Santa Clara University students are running mission operations for two NASA satellites that have launched into space. The satellites that were aboard a Minotaur IV rocket blasted off from Kodiak Island, Alaska, on Nov. 19.
The students will operate Organism/Organic Exposure to Orbital Stresses nanosatellite, known as O/OREOS, for NASA for a year and then for several more years for educational and engineering experiments at SCU. The goal of the O/OREOS mission is to be able to conduct low-cost astrobiology science experiments on autonomous nanosatellites in space. Scientists will apply the knowledge they gain from O/OREOS to plan future experiments in the space environment to study how exposure to space changes organic molecules and biology. These experiments will help answer questions about the origin, evolution, and distribution of life in the universe.
O/OREOS includes a novel de-orbit device that was designed by an SCU graduate student. The device accelerates its de-orbit, which has been an issue in trying reduce the amount of junk in space.
The SCU team will also operate NanoSail-D2, which is a solar sail that could potentially change spacecraft travel and the way NASA brings down old satellites, thereby cleaning up space junk. The NanoSail-D2 will eject from the Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite, or FASTSAT. This will test the ability to deploy an enormous but fragile spacecraft from extremely small and compact structures. When fully deployed, the NanoSail-D2 has a surface area of more than 100 square feet and is made of a material that’s no thicker than single-ply tissue paper. Read more