Sonoma State University has received a $200,000 award from NASA to design, build and launch its second tiny satellite, this time to perform global monitoring of vegetation from space.
SSU students are working with students from Santa Clara University to build the satellite, a 4-inch cube called EdgeCube, within the next two years. The idea came from Sonoma State Geography Professor Matthew Clark, a co-investigator on the experiment, and is based on his research using remote sensing of the Earth.
"A diverse group of students has been recruited across Sonoma State departments of Physics, Computer Science, Engineering, Geography and Business," says Lynn Cominsky, chair of the Physics and Astronomy Department and Principal Investigator of the EdgeCube team. "Each student is paired with a volunteer faculty mentor in his or her major."
The funding will be used to pay student interns and to purchase the parts needed to build the satellite. NASA will also cover launch and flight costs, which can reach upwards of $80,000.
Retired UC Berkeley research physicist Dr. Garrett Jernigan is the scientific and technical lead for this project. He also led Sonoma State's first CubeSat project, launched in 2013. That satellite, called T-LogoQube, weighed one pound and was successful in measuring Earth's magnetic field and other data.
There are 47 universities nationwide -- and just two from California -- receiving an award from the $8 million Undergraduate Student Instrument Project. According to NASA, the project "seeks to build science, technical, leadership and project skills among undergraduate students by offering them real-world experience in developing and flying science or technology experiments that are relevant to NASA's missions."
The 47 selected projects will fly on suborbital and orbital vehicle platforms, such as CubeSats, aircraft, sounding rockets, balloons and other commercial platforms.