The purpose of LEOPARDSat1 (Low Earth Orbit Platform for Aerospace Research and Development Satellite One) is twofold. The primary objective of LEOPARDSat1 is to teach undergraduate engineering students at the University of Cincinnati rigorous, in-depth space mission and systems engineering. The secondary objective of LEOPARDSat1 is to study the ability of carbon composite materials to mitigate radiation in space. To achieve these objectives, UC CubeCats will design, integrate, test, and launch a 1U (10 x 10 x 10 cm) CubeSat. A DIY engineering approach to the CubeSat design will be taken to achieve the educational objectives, with as many of the components as possible either built from scratch or purchased as terrestrial commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components and modified to fit the requirements of the mission. To achieve the secondary objectives, a sensor-array payload will measure the amount of radiation mitigated by carbon composite materials. The educational outputs of the mission include students learning a baseline mission and systems engineering process for creating future spacecraft missions, students learning how to work together effectively as a team to achieve a common objective, and students learning how to effectively communicate with internal and external stakeholders through verbal and written modes of communication. The data collected by radiation sensors will provide the space community with information on the viability of using carbon composites for manned, deep-space, and/or orbital missions
The primary objective of LEOPARDSat1 is to provide an educational platform for members of the UC CubeCats, students at the University of Cincinnati, and surrounding community to learn about the design, construction, testing, and launch of space systems.
Materials such as carbon composites can be useful in deep space exploration for their ionizing radiation blocking properties, versatility, lightweight, and flexibility, which allows them to be woven into fabrics. These fabrics can then be used to shield items in scenarios where rigid and costly heavy metals are impractical. To investigate the validity of such materials in spaceflight the secondary objective of LEOPARDSat1 is to study the ability of carbon composite materials to block Alpha, Beta, and Gamma radiation. To investigate this, the satellite will measure the radiation mitigation abilities of several Carbon-Carbon sheets with varying densities of carbon and hydrogen.
Six radiation sensing metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (RADFET) sensors separated into three separate pairs will study the effectiveness of Carbon-Carbon sheets in mitigating radiation. The pairs are as follows:
- Two unshielded RADFET sensors will monitor ionizing radiation that passes through the CubeSat’s aluminum frame to serve as a reference.
- Two RADFET sensors shielded with a density (3 – 1.8 g/cm^3) of Carbon-Carbon sheets will monitor ionizing radiation that passes through the CubeSat frame.
- Two RADFET sensors shielded with a density (3 – 1.8 g/cm^3) of Carbon-Carbon sheets will be coated in a layer of polyethylene of thickness (1.3 – 1.8 g/cm^3).
Materials such as carbon composites can be useful in space exploration for their ionizing radiation blocking properties, versatility, low mass, and flexibility. These properties allow them to be woven into fabrics or coated onto materials and hardware. Radiation is a large problem for orbital and deep-space manned and unmanned missions. A viable lightweight and versatile radiation-mitigation material used to coat spacesuits or spacecraft would help reduce design complexity and mass (and ultimately cost) of manned and unmanned missions to space while reducing risk to the health of astronauts and increasing the survivability of critical hardware. To investigate the validity of such materials in spaceflight, the objective of Project LEOPARD is to study the ability of carbon composite materials to block Alpha, Beta, and Gamma radiation.
Official NASA Release: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-announces-ninth-round-of-candidates-for-cubesat-space-missions
UC Magazine: http://magazine.uc.edu/editors_picks/recent_features/cubecats.html
WCPO Cincinati: https://www.wcpo.com/news/education/higher-education/uc-news/how-university-of-cincinnati-students-are-helping-nasa-get-to-mars
The News Record (UC Newspaper): http://www.newsrecord.org/news/cubecats-satellite-is-a-go-for-launch/article_3058ce2c-23e7-11e8-87a8-f7fc67c39a44.html
NPR WVXU Cincinnati: http://wvxu.org/post/these-uc-students-want-help-nasa-get-mars#stream/0