The University of Adelaide revisits space exploration

University of Adelaide satellite launched into space

A University of Adelaide-built satellite was launched into space early on Wednesday morning aboard the Atlas V rocket bound for the International Space Station.

The satellite called 'CubeSat' is the product of four years of hard work by about 50 University of Adelaide students and a dozen staff led by Research Fellow Dr Matthew Tetlow. It will play a key role in a project to explore the upper reaches of the atmosphere.

Adelaide's 'CubeSat' is one of an international network of 50 miniaturized satellites to be launched as part of the project. In about a month, the CubeSats will be deployed from the International Space Station into the thermosphere, a layer of atmosphere from about 95km to 500km, where they will take different measurements to understand its relationship to other layers of the atmosphere and how that affects our climate.

Dr Tetlow said about the launch: "This is incredibly exciting to see our spacecraft launched to the International Space Station and know that it will play an important part in this research. It’s 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."

Dr Tetlow also explained why nanosatellites could be the way of the future for space research: "With the miniaturisation of electronics, it’s now possible to put the same amount of research equipment of a full-sized satellite into something that’s about the size of a loaf of bread. The CubeSat can do the same work that a large satellite does at a much reduced cost."

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