Team RockSat to launch experiment on NASA rocket

June 19, 2012, 2:56 pm

Team RockSat, a team of six engineering students from NNU, will launch two experiments inside a rocket payload as part of NASA and the Colorado Space Grant Consortium’s RockSat program Thursday, June 21 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. After the payload is recovered, the team will compare the before and after samples of each experiment.

The first experiment will test the superhydrophobic material developed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Laboratory and used in Team Super-Hydro’s Microgravity University: Systems Engineering Educational Discovery (SEED) program. This experiment gives Team RockSat the opportunity to test the material in a high-vibration, high-acceleration environment to determine the feasibility of using the material on future space missions.

“Essentially, the material consists of tiny glass cones that cause water to ball up and roll off. We are testing if the high forces and vibration of a rocket flight would damage the surface so that it wouldn’t repel water effectively,” Ben Gordon, sophomore team member from Oakridge, Ore., shared.

The second experiment partners the RockSat team with company engineers at American Semiconductor Inc. to test radiation-hardened chips. “Sometimes chips have errors when processing data. These errors can increase when radiation is present (like in space). We are hoping that these new chips will have fewer errors compared to regular chips,” Ben continued.

Developed in partnership with NASA and the Colorado Space Grant Consortium, the RockSat program guides faculty and students from across the United States through the construction of a rocket payload before launching the rocket composed of payloads from various universities. Participants built a computer board and a scientific experiment (Geiger Counter), programmed the system, and mechanically integrated it into the RockSat payload canister at a workshop last summer.

Follow the team here.

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