Slugs in Space: A small-satellite for HF communications and particle physics research

Team Lead: Sarah Mitchell
Additional Team Members: Gabriel Barbosa, Harley Berman, Jesus Bobadilla, Kelby Gan, Olyad Kebede, Natalie King, Alex Martinez, Lucas McKeever, James Michael, Zee Moffatt, Spencer Neuschmid, Thomas Nijssen, Devin Riley, Luis Rivera, Galen Savidge, Aaron Slagle, Nicholas Tordoff
In the amateur radio community, satellites provide a way for two ground stations to make long distance contacts with each other that would not be possible without extra assistance. Current satellites in orbit primarily operate on the VHF and UHF frequency bands (between 30MHz - 2GHz). Very few of these satellites operate in the HF, or High Frequency band, between 3-30MHz. SlugSat’s goal is to tackle this problem by launching a satellite that carrying a linear transponder to allow long distance access across this underutilized radio band. Extra access to the HF band would be vital in any emergency communication scenario in which the typical VHF and UHF bands could not be accessed, due to poor atmospheric conditions, damaged or broken equipment, or other failures. In addition to an HF linear transponder, SlugSat has also partnered with the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP) to carry a secondary payload, a scientific experiment. This experiment will conduct new research by detecting low-energy terrestrial gamma ray flashes, or TGFs. These TGFs occur above thunderstorms or individual lightning strikes, when large volumes of electrons are launched upward into the atmosphere and collide together to create these gamma flashes. SlugSat will be the vessel to carry this experiment into orbit. If successful, SlugSat may lay the foundation for an ongoing space program here at UCSC and provide a gateway for students into the aerospace industry. Our program could expand its user base to bring space access to all of UCSC and even the greater community.

Funding from IDEA Hub will be used to buy and test prototyping components for the various subsystems of the satellite, including the HF linear transponder and the integration of the science payload.

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