NASA Selects Arkansas' First CubeSat

Adam Huang, University of Arkansas
University Relations

Adam Huang, University of Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas’ first CubeSat, a small satellite selected by NASA for space education and research, will observe the Earth’s climate and measure the composition and concentration of atmospheric gases.

In February, NASA announced the selection of ArkSat-1 as one of 34 satellites from 19 states and the District of Columbia that will be launched into space between 2018 and 2020. ArkSat-1 is being developed by Adam Huang, associate professor of mechanical engineering, and Josh Pennington, doctoral student in the Microelectronics and Photonics program, in the Engineered Micro/Nano-Systems Laboratory. They will deliver the satellite to NASA for launch in 2020.

From space, ArkSat-1 — a 10-centimeter, or nearly 4-inch, cube that is almost twice the size of a Rubik’s Cube — will point a calibrated light toward Earth. Terrestrial telescopes instrumented with spectrophotometers will track this light and measure the composition and concentration of various atmospheric gases.

ArkSat-1 will be the same size at this CubeSat developed by NASA.

“This could help build a stronger understanding of the complex dynamics that occur in the atmosphere and give us insight into how different geographical locales affect the atmosphere around those areas,” Pennington said. “For instance, how much more methane is in the air around large agricultural areas? How much more concentrated is carbon dioxide in cities than the countryside?”

ARKSat-1 will also demonstrate a deorbit technology being developed at the U of A’s Engineered Micro/Nano-Systems Laboratory by Morgan Roddy, also a doctoral student in the Microelectronics-Photonics program. Roddy’s deorbiter, which recently won second place in a student design competition at the University Nanosatellite Engineering Consortium’s Global Meeting in Varna, Bulgaria, is designed to reduce space debris from small satellites. The deorbiter inflates a thin-membrane balloon that increases drag on a satellite, slowing its reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere and causing the satellite to disintegrate.

“Which means that, if everything works correctly, the CubeSat will quickly burn up in Earth's atmosphere,” Pennington said.

The U of A team – composed of Huang, Pennington and Roddy as well as John Lee, doctoral student in mechanical engineering, and undergraduate students – plan to complete ARKSat-1 by the end of 2019. It will then be turned over to NASA for integration onto a rocket. Pennington said it will likely take from 3 to 6 months for a launch opportunity. The researchers expect the mission to last three months.

The U of A researchers are collaborating with other universities and organizations in Arkansas on the project. Huang is the primary investigator. Co-investigators include Larry Roe, associate professor of mechanical engineering and the director of the Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences at the U of A; Vincent Chevrier, assistant research professor at the Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences; Ed Wilson and Charles Wu at Harding University; Yupo Chan at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock; and Constance Meadors at Pulaski Technical College. Development of ARKSat-1 is funded by the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium.

Initially developed by academia in the early-2000s for promoting space technology education, CubeSats gained popularity after the Department of Defense, NASA and the National Science Foundation began providing CubeSat-based research funding in the late-2000s. Today, they are the standard satellite technology, providing space access to both traditional and non-traditional participants in technology and missions.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

Contacts

Adam Huang, associate professor, mechanical engineering
College of Engineering
479-575-4054, phuang@uark.edu

Josh Pennington, doctoral student, microelectronics and photonics
College of Engineering
479-575-4246, jspennin@uark.edu

Matt McGowan, science and research communications officer
University Relations
479-575-4246, dmcgowa@uark.edu

Headlines

'Interpreting Kigali, Rwanda' Wins Award From Design Research Group

The book Interpreting Kigali, Rwanda was published by the University of Arkansas Press in collaboration with the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design.

Projects Led by Fay Jones School Faculty Selected for New York Events in May and Into Summer

Visiting professor Cory Olsen’s interior design class and two faculty members — Jessica Colangelo and Charles Sharpless — will have projects on display in New York.

Fifth Annual Play Therapy Conference to Feature Keynote Speaker Bonnie Badenoch

The keynote speaker for the Play Therapy Conference will speak about the play can help heal trauma. The conference will be June 21-22.

Human Development and Family Sciences Students Help Parents Interact With Their Children

U of A students from the School of Human Environmental Sciences recently connected with families in Fayetteville Public Schools to help parents better interact with their children.

Board of Trustees Approves Changes to U of A Tuition and Fees

A 2.5% increase in tuition will go into effect for the fall 2019 semester.

Newswire Daily