CubeSat Team participates in 2017 SmallSat Conference

CubeSat Team at SmallSat Conference

Members from the U of M CubeSat Team attending the SmallSat Confernce in Logan, Utah. Team members from left to right: Sam Drehmel, Tim Kukowski, Abigail Valero, Runsheng (Vincent) Ma, and Prof. Demoz Gebre-Egziabher.

Small Satellites – Big Data was the driving force behind the 2017 SmallSat Conference held August 5-10 in Logan, Utah. Students, industrial professionals, and aerospace educators alike joined together to discuss the future of small satellites and their ability to enable big data applications. With over 2500 attendees and 175 exhibitors, the SmallSat conference is the largest international conference of its kind, having grown in recent years due to the rapid growth in the small satellite market.

From exhibits to keynote speakers to competitions, the conference offered no shortage of activities for aerospace professionals to participate in. The University of Minnesota CubeSat Team, along with teams from 9 other universities, attended the Program Management Review (PMR2) meetings held by the University Nanosatellite Program (UNP) at the SmallSat Conference. The UNP is designed to give students a hands-on experience designing, building, and launching CubeSats. This review meeting marks the half way point in the development of their CubeSat. The U of M team is now racing to complete a fully functional laboratory model of their CubeSat by January.


An Engineering Unit (prototype) of EXACT--University of Minnesota’s CubeSat being launched to help better understand solar flares.

University of Minnesota CubeSat team members Stephanie Wegner, Lindsay Taylor, Evan Majd, and Ryan Thomas presented a paper about their senior design project entitled, "Methodology for Software-in-the-Loop Testing of Low Cost Attitude Determination Systems." The students work will be used for the attitude determination and control system (ADCS) of two CubeSats being built by the University of Minnesota. The first CubeSat known as EXACT will fly a novel X-ray detector (spectrometer). Data collected from the detector will help better understand the physics of solar flares. The second CubeSat known as SOCRATES will test a novel sensor for navigation in deep space mission. 

The CubeSat program is a collaboration between UMN CSE’s School of Physics and Astronomy and Department of Aerospace Engineering. In addition to those departments, students and mentors from the Departments of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering also participate. Prof. Lindsay Glesener is the PI for EXACT and Prof. Demoz Gebre-Egziabher is the PI for SOCRATES.