FGCU professor, researchers work to send satellite into space

Being the first launch from American soil since 2011, the SpaceX launch reignited America’s interest in space exploration.

A little closer to home at FGCU, students are working hard on a satellite that has the potential to be launched into space. Students and professors are also studying space to better understand what’s out there and how to make their satellite more successful.

“We’re looking at stars that are different than the sun. There are stars that are a lot more massive than sun,” said Dr. Derek Buzasi, a professor of physics and astronomy at FGCU.

And Dr. Buzasi has been using his research while teaming up with NASA and the University of California, Berkeley to create a smaller satellite that has the potential to be launched into space.

“There’s been a drive in the last decade or so to make small satellites that can be made in an economical and rapid way,” said Dr. Oswald Siegmund, a research physicist at University of California, Berkeley.

Both are excited that NASA selected their proposal, along with seven others. “Of the eight institutions that were selected, this is the only that isn’t sort of a nationally-known research institution,” Dr. Buzasi said.

The planned satellite is about the size of a microwave. “More of these small satellites is very conducive, certainly to the ground level at the universities, to student education and development,” Dr. Siegmund said.

But despite the size, it could have a much larger impact on the future of space exploration. “So the idea here is to send up a spacecraft to go observe these stars, several hundred of them over the course of a couple of years and do asteroseismology to kind of understand how the stars are made,” said Dr. Buzasi.

Plus, he’s just happy his students get to be a part of something like this. Dr. Buzasi added, “Even if we only make the first stage, this is an opportunity for our students to be involved in something.”

The design is only the beginning of the journey. After a year of study, the team has to present a formal design and cost study to NASA. The team is slated to find out by 2024 if its satellite ha been selected.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Drew Hill
Do you see a typo or an error? Let us know.