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Grad Student to Build Camera for Space Mission

GLENDALE, Ariz., Feb. 1, 2013 — An infrared and visible light camera system developed by a third-year graduate student at Arizona State University will launch on a space satellite to guide its trajectory and take images of a solar sail as it opens.

Michael Veto, a geology doctoral student at the university’s School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE), will build the camera system, a key part of the Prox-1 satellite payload. The Prox-1, which won the seventh University Nanosat Program (UNP) competition, is sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Air Force Research Laboratory.


Arizona State University graduate student Michael Veto has begun work on an infrared and visible camera system that will fly as part of the Prox-1 satellite payload. The infrared part of the camera (in breadboard form) lies to the left of the laptop. Courtesy of Arizona State University.

The Prox-1 mission is designed by Georgia Institute of Technology students under the guidance of professor David Spencer, within Georgia Tech’s Center for Space Systems. It will demonstrate automated trajectory control in low-Earth orbit relative to a deployed subsatellite, or cubesat.

The flight plan calls for Prox-1 to release this smaller spacecraft, which is a version of The Planetary Society’s LightSail solar sail spacecraft. (A solar sail uses the pressure of sunlight for low-thrust propulsion.) The images from Veto’s camera will guide Prox-1’s trajectory to fly in formation with the LightSail spacecraft. The device also will take images of the LightSail solar sail as it opens.

Prox-1 not only will demonstrate automated proximity operations, but will also provide first-time flight validation of advanced sun sensor technology, a small satellite propulsion system and a lightweight thermal imager.

As the winner of the UNP competition, the Prox-1 mission will receive an Air Force launch slot as a secondary payload, plus additional development funding over the next two years. The Prox-1 team will complete spacecraft integration and testing, working toward a launch in 2015.

In addition to contributions from the US Air Force, the Prox-1 team has been supported by the Georgia Space Grant Consortium, The Aerospace Corporation, Raytheon Vision Systems and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

For more information, visit: www.asu.edu



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