P20101: 3u Cubesat Flight Control
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Project Summary Project Information

Lightning Talk Project Overview Video here: YouTube Video Link

CubeSats are small form factor satellites based on standard specifications introduced in 1999. They are used in all space sectors, primarily in research. The low risk, low cost, and methods of transport to orbit as secondary payloads to larger missions makes them well suited for universities and research institutions interested in furthering space exploration, science, and technology development. RIT’s own student organization, SPEX (space exploration), has been developing and proposing CubeSat missions for several years. The main payload for this mission is a Solar Sail.

Solar sails are a method of "fuel-less" propulsion in that the effective propellant are photons. Solar sails are a very popular topic of research currently due to the possibility of constant propulsion over a long-term mission, a good example of this is the Starshot mission that is currently under investigation by multiple universities and institutions. Standard solar sailing works on the specular reflection of photons. There is a quantum mechanical equation called "the Energy-Momentum equivalence" which relates the momentum and mass of a particle to its energy. In equation form,

E2 = p2 c2 + m2 c4

Where p is the momentum, c is the speed of light, and m is the mass of the particle. As stated above, a photon does not have mass thus this equation reduces to the common form,

E = p c

This equation shows that photons have momentum and when they hit another object they will transfer their momentum to that object based off their incident angle.

The addition of diffractive elements on the solar sail will enable a controlled photon reflection angle. The primary scientific objective is to prove that diffractive solar sails are effective in practice. The way this will be implemented is by adding small elements of diffractive elements on the perimeter of the sail to induce a torque around the longitudinal axis of the CubeSat (that is, the axis normal to the smallest cross-section of the structure). Then the CubeSat will use on-board accelerometers to measure the resultant torque and compare that signal to a simulated (theoretical) signal which will show the team whether or not the diffractive was effective.

The previous team, P19101, redesigned the solar sail deployment system and started to build an electrical system. The goal of this year's development is to get the sail fully deployed, design an ADCS to determine the cubesat's position and adjust the sail, and integrate a communication system to send a downlink to an RIT ground station. We will also work on designing an experiment to show if the solar sail is changing the cubesat's orbit, and writing a mission plan.

For an updated project description, click on the following link for the Project Readiness Package and the 1-Page Project Summary.

Project Name
3U CubeSat: Solar Sail
Project Number
P20101
Project Family
P19101, P18101
Start Term
2191 (Fall 2019)
End Term
2195 (Spring 2020)
Faculty Guide
Art North, ajnddm@rit.edu
Primary Customer
RIT SPEX, NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC)
Faculty Champion
Dr. Mihail Barbosu, mxbsma@rit.edu
Faculty Stakeholder
Dr. Grover Swartzlander
Collaborating MSD Project
P20151: LASSO

## Team Members

Back Left to Right: Amber, Jarrett, James, Charles, Front Left to Right: Sarah, Nick

Member Role Discipline Contact
Amber Dubill Principle Investigator ME ald4035@rit.edu
James Emerson Parkus Systems Engineer ME jep7631@rit.edu
Sarah Wittenauer Facilitator and CAD ME sw3583@rit.edu
Charles Nystrom Flight Software Engineer EE can2066@rit.edu
Jarrett Wehle Electronics Design, Purchasing, Ice Rink EE jtw9947@rit.edu

## Work Breakdown: By Phase

MSD I & II MSD I MSD II

Customer Handoff & Final Project Documentation (Verification & Validation)

## Work Breakdown: By Topic

Project Management Design Tools Design Documentation Implementation Validation Presentation & Dissemination

## Acknowledgements

• Thank you to RIT Space Exploration, SPEX, for providing the team with access to their CubeSat development kit.
• Thank you to the Construct at RIT for providing parts, tools, and other Makerspace services.
• Thank you to Dr. Barbosu and Dr. Swartzlander for supporting the project with guidance and advice.
• Thank you to Art North for the continuing support and amazing work as the project's faculty guide.