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Adelaide satellite takes off from Cape Canaveral


A satellite designed and built at the University of Adelaide was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in the early hours of this morning to measure climate change data and communicate it back to Earth.

The CubeSat, named SUSat, was one of three developed in Australia and is part of an international collaborative project called QB50 to launch 50 climate science CubeSats to carry out atmospheric research approximately 400 kilometres directly above earth. The satellites will be released via the International Space Station in the coming months and will remain in orbit for 12 to 18 months.

The CubeSat was developed using a $300,000 Premier’s Research and Industry Fund grant awarded in 2012-13. It will carry two small measuring devices for atmospheric measurement and for communications, in addition to the QB50 climate modelling payload.

Data will be collected from this CubeSat up to three times per day via the University of South Australia’s Institute for Telecommunications’ ground station at Mawson Lakes.

More than 40 undergrad students have been involved in this project across various faculties of the Universities of Adelaide and South Australia including computer science, mechanical engineering and physics. These students will continue to gather information from the CubeSat during its time in orbit, with all data collected available to all partners associated with the QB50 project.

University of Adelaide’s School of Mechanical Engineering Research Fellow Dr Matthew Tetlow said seeing their spacecraft launched to the International Space Station is a fantastic milestone and a testament to the team.

“The whole project has been an invaluable and unique experience for the many students who have worked on it. It’s not everyday student engineers get to help build a satellite to be launched by NASA.”

Image Caption: An Adelaide designed and built climate satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral this morning.

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