Spacey Satellite Labs
In college, I worked with a group of friends and faculty to build the University of Georgia’s first satellite lab. We spent hours calculating equations, writing grant proposals, and writing code for our simulations. We also made a cool website.
Our lab received grants from both NASA and the Air Force to build small satellites, and the lab today is now over 54 people. Here's a video that tells the story well.
Applying for Grants
We were only 10 students scattered across majors, but we needed to provide proof of concepts in our grant proposals in order to get funding. This experience really taught me the value of diving head first into new territory.
The lab specializes in cube satellites: low-cost satellites only a few centimeters wide and tall. In the early days, I helped study Stucture from Motion techniques; SfM is essentially making a 3D structure out of multiple 2D images.
I worked with the Software team to experiment with opencv-a computer vision library- and ran experiments on the best way to process images.
Our first mission is to take pictures across a wide range of spectral bands of coastal Georgia. We want to monitor current status and productivity. For this satellite, I researched optimal data transmission techniques and wrote some of the code that processed the images. SPOC has been chosen for NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative and will be launched either 2018, 2019, or 2020.
Our second mission, funded by the Air Force, is a satellite also focused on capturing image data of Earth, but it would eventually become an on-demand imagery request service. This satellite relied more heavily on real-time Structure from Motion, which would need efficient data compression and transmission techniques. I regularly participated in meetings with members of the Air Force to discuss concepts, equations, etc. MOCI-the name of the satellite-is still under review with the Air Force Research Labs, so there is not a current launch date.