University students across the country are embarking on a nation-wide challenge to design and build fully operational research satellites for the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge. With experience in irradiation testing for electronics, TRIUMF has taken on an advisory role to UBC Orbit, a student satellite design team participating in the competition. In November 2014, TRIUMF signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UBC Orbit. TRIUMF, with Dr. Yair Linn serving as the primary liaison, will provide support and resources to the team, as well as facilities for possible radiation testing.
UBC Orbit is a design team at the Vancouver campus of the University of British Columbia composed of over 60 students from a variety of undergraduate programs, primarily engineering. Together, they are building a research satellite to be ready for orbit by 2016 as part of the third Canada-wide satellite design competition.
“UBC Orbit is not only a place for a few smart students, but a team for anyone who loves to learn about space applications,” says UBC Orbit Captain, HyunChang Jang. “UBC Orbit’s vision is to provide an inclusive learning environment for all Orbit members, to explore the field of satellites together and to offer opportunities where members can learn from trial and error and progress together.”
Participating in the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge is an educational activity on a number of levels. Students not only learn how to build and launch an operational science research satellite, but also experience the management processes of a large engineering project and partake in community outreach activities. In addition, TRIUMF’s involvement allows students to learn about active physics research and best practices.
Shortly after the MOU was signed, UBC Orbit came for a tour of TRIUMF’s Proton and Neutron Irradiation Facility (PIF & NIF), guided by coordinator Dr. Mike Trinczek. "TRIUMF’s world class facilities were incredibly impressive to us,” said Sebastian Cline, UBC Orbit Team Manager. “On top of the groundbreaking physics research, it was amazing to see how they also contribute to the fields of medicine and technology on not only a theoretical level but a practical one, too."
Dr. Yair Linn, an Electronics and Firmware Engineer at TRIUMF and an Adjunct Professor in UBC’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, sees the practical benefit of TRIUMF’s participation. “Space,” he says, “is the final frontier, where many physics and astronomy missions are providing priceless scientific data that cannot be obtained on Earth. It is important that TRIUMF be involved in space-based experiments.”
"When I learned last year about the existence of UBC Orbit, I immediately suggested that TRIUMF join in an advisory role,” says Linn. “Support for UBC students on such a wonderful and audacious science and engineering project is what TRIUMF's community outreach mandate is all about. I am very thankful that so many TRIUMF personnel have volunteered their time for this endeavor.”
The Canadian Satellite Design Challenge will judge the satellites and test the top 10 designs in May of 2016.
We wish the UBC Orbit team and all participants the best of luck!
Photos taken during the UBC Orbit tour. Bottom photo UBC Orbit's first prototype satellite.
By Kyla Shauer and Jacqueline Wightman