News

2018

SDL-Designed Polar Scout Small Satellites Launched to Test Search and Rescue Technology

December 6, 2018 – Space Dynamics Laboratory

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the successful launch of it’ Space Dynamics Laboratory-designed Polar Scout small satellites aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket into a sun synchronous orbit. The two Polar Scout satellites, known as Kodiak and Yukon, lifted off at 11:34 a.m. MST on Tuesday, December 3, 2018 from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA. Preliminary telemetry indicates the satellites are healthy and operating as designed.

Space Scientists From Utah Instrumental In Capturing Asteroid Images

December 4, 2018 – Utah Public Radio

After a two-year chase, a NASA spacecraft arrived Monday at the ancient asteroid Bennu, becoming its first visitor in billions of years. A group of Utah scientists at the Space Dynamics Lab in Logan are monitoring the mission.

Spacecraft Equipped with SDL-Provided Detector Assemblies for Cameras Arrives at Asteroid

December 3, 2018 – Space Dynamics Laboratory

NASA announced today that its Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer, known as OSIRIS-REx, has rendezvoused with the asteroid Bennu. Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory provided the detector assemblies for the OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite, called OCAMS, instruments.

NASA spacecraft arrives at ancient asteroid, its 1st visitor

December 3, 2018 – KSL

After a two-year chase, a NASA spacecraft arrived Monday at the ancient asteroid Bennu, its first visitor in billions of years.

SDL celebrates OSIRIS-REx approach to near-Earth asteroid

December 3, 2018 – HJNews

After more than two years, a spacecraft equipped with cameras built by USU’s Space Dynamics Lab has just about reached a near-Earth asteroid, a major milestone in NASA’s first-ever mission to scoop up a sample of the object and return it to Earth.

Former acting NASA administrator joins SDL board

November 26, 2018 – HJNews

Located on USU’s Innovation Campus in North Logan, SDL contracts with an array of customers, including NASA, to provide a range of engineering and technological solutions that are created and tested before being launched into space. For example, in 2016, SDL was part of a multi-institutional effort with NASA to use instruments to study the ionosphere.

Former NASA administrator to serve on Utah State University lab’s board

November 26, 2018 – Deseret News

LOGAN — Utah State University's Space Dynamics Laboratory recently appointed four new members to its board of trustees, including Robert Lightfoot Jr., former acting administrator for NASA.

BENNUVAL! Stories of Science and Space

November 23, 2018 – Tucson Weekly

Traveling since Sept. 2016, OSIRIS-REx is arriving at Bennu, the carbonaceous astroid it was sent to collect a sample from two years ago. To laud its mission, the UA College of Humanities is launching with BENNUVAL!, an "out-of-this-world family-friendly variety show."

Space Dynamics Lab Taps Former NASA Chief, Three USU Leaders for Board

November 20, 2018 – USU

Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) recently appointed four new members to its Board of Trustees, including Robert Lightfoot, Jr., former Acting Administrator for NASA; Laurens (Larry) H. Smith, USU’s Interim Vice President for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies; Ken White, USU Vice President and Dean of the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences; and Neil Abercrombie, USU Vice President for Government Relations.

The Most Luminous Galaxy Is Eating Its Neighbors

November 15, 2018 – NASA

Discovered by NASA's space-based Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) in 2015, the galaxy, called WISE J224607.55-052634.9, is by no means the largest or most massive galaxy we know of, but it radiates at 350 trillion times the luminosity of the Sun. If all galaxies were positioned an equal distance from us, WISE J224607.55-052634.9 (or W2246-0526 for short) would be the brightest.

Cosmic Detective Work: Why We Care About Space Rocks

November 7, 2018 – NASA

The entire history of human existence is a tiny blip in our solar system's 4.5-billion-year history. No one was around to see planets forming and undergoing dramatic changes before settling in their present configuration. In order to understand what came before us -- before life on Earth and before Earth itself -- scientists need to hunt for clues to that mysterious distant past.

NASA's OSIRIS-REx extends Bennu

November 4, 2018 – News Beezer

This set of 16 images shows the steady approach of the OSIRIS REx spacecraft to the asteroid Bennu in the latter half of October 2018. From October 12-29, the long-range PolyCam camera took an optical one day Navigation screen on except on 16 and 17 October, when PolyCam was not intended for taking pictures.

First images of asteroid Bennu obtained by the NASA OSIRIS-REx spacecraft

November 3, 2018 – astrobio

After two years travelling through space, the NASA OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has started to obtain images of the mission target, primitive asteroid Bennu. As part of the Scientific Team of this mission, researchers from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), Javier Licandro and Julia de León have already started to work in the calibration of this images in preparation for the ones that will be obtained in December 2018 using color filters.

Cameras Designed in Utah Help NASA Satellite Approach Asteroid

October 24, 2018 – KSL TV

LOGAN, Utah – It’s taken two years, and well over a billion miles, but NASA’s Osiris-REx satellite is inching closer to the asteroid, Bennu, now at only around 2,000 miles away. The landmark in the mission is exciting for engineers and researchers at Space Dynamics Laboratory, located on the Innovation Campus, at Utah State University, because specialized cameras designed there, will now help the spacecraft safely enter the asteroid’s orbit.

Big Primes Squeezing into a Smallsat World

October 22, 2018 – Satellite Today

Smallsats are capturing significant industry and mainstream media attention, with some positioning smallsats as the future of the industry. The smallsat market certainly presents a growing opportunity, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 15 percent and launch forecasts exceeding 4,500 1-500 kilogram satellites through 2025.

NASA's OSIRIS-REx Checks for Collision Hazards As It Nears Asteroid Bennu

October 22, 2018 – SPACE.com

After a huge team of engineers has spent years building a $800 million spacecraft, you want to be sure the craft doesn't bang into anything before it even gets a chance to start work in earnest.

The evolution of the SmallSat industry

October 11, 2018 – HOBBYSPACE

Small satellites, which typically refers to spacecraft in the kilogram to a few hundred kilograms range, have become in the past few years a large and growing part of what is happening in space. Smallsats have actually been around since the start of the Space Age. Just a few years after Sputnik reached orbit, the first amateur satellite reached orbit as well. (See A Brief History of AMSAT.) Note that “amateur” here refers primarily to the involvement of the amateur radio community and the use of amateur radio bands for communications with the satellites.

NASA's asteroid chaser gets first glimpse of potentially hazardous target

October 9, 2018 – MSN – CNET

Officially beginning "Asteroid Operations" in August, NASA's asteroid chasing spacecraft is slowing itself down for its arrival at asteroid Bennu on Dec. 3. In the meantime, NASA has provided a "tale of the tape" for its approach -- a series of images stitched together that documents OSIRIS-REx's approach.

NASA's Jim Bridenstine: America needs to be first, even in space

October 1, 2018 – MSN – The Examiner

Trump's NASA chief wants America to be first, regardless of whether you're talking about going back to the moon, going to Mars, or finding life on some distant world.
"And to the extent that life is found on a world that is not our own, it should be NASA that discovers it. It should be the United States of America, and not somebody else," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in an interview with the Washington Examiner.

CubeSat designers choose radiation-hardened NAND Flash memory from DDC for NASA BioSentinel space project

Septmeber 21, 2018 – Military Aerospace

BOHEMIA, N.Y. – Space flight computer experts at the Space Dynamics Laboratory at Utah State University in North Logan, Utah, needed radiation-hardened high-density NAND Flash memory for the Pearl single-board computer they designed for the NASA BioSentinel CubeSat spacecraft. They found their solution from Data Device Corp. (DDC) in Bohemia, N.Y.

NASA Probe Captures First Image of 1,600-Foot Wide Potentially Hazardous Asteroid Bennu

August 28, 2018 – Newsweek

NASA has released the first image to be captured by its OSIRIS-REx space probe of the “potentially hazardous” asteroid Bennu. The photo was taken from a distance of around 1.4 million miles on August 17 using the spacecraft’s PolyCam instrument—one of three on-board visible light cameras.

NASA Team Demonstrates "Science on a Shoestring" with Greenhouse Gas-Measuring Instrument

August 17, 2018 – Space Daily

A novel instrument that has already proven its mettle on field campaigns will attempt to measure atmospheric greenhouse gases from an occultation-viewing, low-Earth-orbiting CubeSat mission called Mini-Carb early next year - marking the first time this type of instrument has flown in space.

Defense bill to transfer federal land for USU space dynamics research

August 14, 2018 – KSL

WASHINGTON — The defense spending bill President Donald Trump signed Monday includes a provision to transfer Forest Service land to Utah State University for space research.
The legislation will convey 80 acres in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest to the Utah State University Research Foundation. The university’s Space Dynamics Laboratory, NASA and other organization have used the land since 1966.

Smallsat developers focus on improving reliability

August 8, 2018 – Space News

LOGAN, Utah — As cubesats and other smallsats transition from technology demonstration and student projects to operational missions supporting a growing array of applications, companies large and small are working to improve their reliability. Those efforts, outlined in a session of the AIAA/Utah State University Conference on Small Satellites here Aug. 7, reflect as much the philosophical differences of the companies involved as the specific technical issues that affect satellite reliability.

Asteroid Sample-Return Spacecraft Are Approaching Their Targets

August 1, 2018 – Scientific American

If all goes according to plan, two spacecraft will commence close encounters of the curious kind with two separate asteroids by the end of August. Their goal: to retrieve samples that may contain organic materials dating back to the solar system’s birth. These building blocks may be key to understanding the origins of the planets and of life on Earth—and could also make future space prospectors very rich.

The Mission to Sample a Comet Going 84,000 Miles Per Hour—and Return

July 26, 2018 – Bloomberg

Steve Squyres was feeling restless. It was late fall 2013, and the semester was wrapping up at Cornell, where he’d been a professor for more than 25 years. As head of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover mission, he’d just marked 10 years tracking Spirit and Opportunity, two six-wheeled robots that went to the red planet. They’d been designed to roam the surface for just 90 days, scratching and drilling into rocks and examining soil in search of evidence of water. Nearly a decade later, Opportunity was still rumbling along. Squyres wasn’t bored by its persistence, but there wasn’t much left for him to do.

Successful Second Deep Space Maneuver for OSIRIS-REx Confirmed

July 3, 2018 – NASA

New tracking data confirms that NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully completed its second Deep Space Maneuver (DSM-2) on June 28. The thruster burn put the spacecraft on course for a series of asteroid approach maneuvers to be executed this fall that will culminate with the spacecraft’s scheduled arrival at asteroid Bennu on Dec. 3.

US stepping up Earth's protection from asteroids, comets

June 20, 2018 – PHYS.org

The U.S. government is stepping up efforts to protect the planet from incoming asteroids that could wipe out entire regions or even continents.
The National Science and Technology Council released a report Wednesday calling for improved asteroid detection, tracking and deflection. NASA is participating, along with federal emergency and White House officials.

NEOWISE Thermal Data Reveal Surface Properties of Asteroids

June 3, 2018 – Sci Tech Daily

Nearly all asteroids are so far away and so small that the astronomical community only knows them as moving points of light. The rare exceptions are asteroids that have been visited by spacecraft, a small number of large asteroids resolved by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope or large ground-based telescopes, or those that have come close enough for radar imaging.

Coast Guard will test cubesats to monitor Arctic

May 11, 2018 – Next Big Future

These satellites, or “cubesats,” are capable of detecting transmissions from emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs), which are carried on board vessels to broadcast their position if in distress. The Coast Guard will deploy the cubesats in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s Polar Scout program, the Air Force Operationally Responsive Space Office, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Coast Guard Preparing To Launch Its First Satellites

April 30, 2018 – Parabolic Arc

WASHINGTON (U.S. Coast Guard PR) — Two small satellites, scheduled for launch in 2018, will provide the Coast Guard with the opportunity to test the effectiveness of satellite communications in supporting Arctic search and rescue missions.

New NASA Space Sensors To Address Key Earth Science Questions

February 11, 2018 – Aero News Network

The Polar Radiant Energy in the Far Infrared Experiment (PREFIRE) will fly a pair of small CubeSat satellites to probe a little-studied portion of the radiant energy emitted by Earth for clues about Arctic warming, sea ice loss, and ice-sheet melting. Tristan L'Ecuyuer of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is the principal investigator.

New NASA instruments aim to answer atmospheric unknowns

February 9, 2018 – Astronomy

NASA has just selected proposals for innovative research projects that aim to answer two unknown atmospheric questions: Does mineral dust have a warming or cooling effect on Earth’s atmosphere, and why is the Arctic warming more quickly than other areas of the planet?

NASA Picks Research Proposals to Study Arctic Warming, Mineral Dust Effects on Atmosphere

February 6, 2018 – Executive Gov

NASA has chosen two research projects to build space instruments that will study Arctic warming and the effects of mineral dust on the atmosphere.

Space Dynamics Lab to Develop Test, Flight Units for NASA’s Ocean Color Measurement Instrument

January 24, 2018 – Executive Biz

Space Dynamics Laboratory has been awarded a potential 26-month, $8.1 million contract to produce engineering test and flight units for an optical spectometer being developed at NASA‘s Goddard Space Flight Center.

NASA Awards Ocean Color Instrument (OCI) Short Wave Infra-Red (SWIR) Aft Optics Box (AOB)

January 23, 2018 – Forward Geek

GREENBELT, Md., Jan. 23, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ NASA has awarded a contract to Utah State University Research Foundation, Space Dynamics Laboratory of North Logan, Utah, to provide the design, development, fabrication, assembly, acceptance testing and delivery of the Engineering Test Unit and Flight Units of the Ocean Color Instrument (OCI) Short Wave Infra-Red (SWIR) Aft Optics Box (AOB).