Recently launched satellites offer USU research opportunities
Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 00:10
Satellites will provide research opportunities for USU students, according to professor Jan Sojka, who led a discussion with faculty and students Thursday.
Three Polar Orbiting Passive Atmosphere Calibration Sphere satellites, or POPACS, were recently deployed in an experiment donated to USU by Gilbert and Phyllis Moore.
“They will provide over 10 years of hands-on research for any of our students,” Sojka said.
The satellites were launched into a polar orbit Sept. 29 by the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The purpose of the satellites is to measure changes in the density of the upper atmosphere due to solar activity, Sojka said.
“By monitoring (their) position, we can see every orbital storm,” he said.
The Department of Defense will be tracking these satellites with technology most people do not know about, Sojka said.
POPACS is comprised of three spheres, weighing 1, 1.5 and 2 kilograms, respectively, named Phyllis, Gilbert and Moore.
Sojka pulled out three yellow foam balls with the names written on them and tossed them to the listeners.
“The challenge will be taking out telescopes with cameras and taking pictures of satellites,” Sojka said.
He said the satellites are not visible to the human eye.
The department of physics is in the process of ordering another telescope for this purpose and don’t have any cameras yet, he said.