January 21, 2023

UA students prepare to put their own cubesat into space

The cereal box-sized "CatSat" will transmit data to UA's Biosphere 2.

UA Cubesats NASA illustration of cubesats in orbit.
NASA/JPL

A group of University of Arizona students are putting the final touches on a cubesat set to be launched into space this year.

Cubesats are about the size of a small microwave oven. The UA "CatSat" will give students hands-on experience developing and running a space mission. UA astronomy professor Chris Walker says the students took their proposal to NASA four years ago.

“Probably around 40 students over the years have been working on it and our current cadre of students is about ten," Walker explained. "They are very motivated students, excellent students, from all different departments of the University, different levels.”

Walker notes graduating students mentor newcomers to the program semester-by-semester. They put the finishing touches on the satellite last month. One instrument aboard the cubesat will detect and measure ham radio transmissions and downlink them to a receiver at the UA’s Biosphere 2 facility.

The CatSat will ride into space aboard a smaller, privately-owned rocket. Its launch date has yet to be finalized.

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