CubeSats are small, relatively inexpensive satellites orbiting the earth every 128 minutes at an attitude of 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles). Although the barriers to space are lowering with decreasing costs and increasing launch opportunities, getting a cubesat into orbit is still a multi-year effort costing $50,000 to $100,000 USD.
Although an aspirational goal, this is often beyond the means of most schools. However, there are strategies to start incorporating cubesats into the classroom at a fraction of the cost and time:
Functional, but not space-worthy cubesats provide the experiences of designing, building, programming, and deploying a cubesat. These can be built from scratch or assembled from a kit for as little as $500 USD. In addition to demonstrating cubesat functionality and principles of operation, these are also platforms for scientific experimentation that can be carried aloft by a weather balloon to explore the stratosphere, set adrift in the ocean (or lake or river) to record current and water chemistry, or mounted stationary to measure urban air quality.
For a list of currently available cubesat simulator kits, see: https://fredricraab.wordpress.com/cubesat-simulators/
Currently there are hundreds of educational cubesats orbiting overhead, continuously steaming data down to earth. At any given time, several are visible in the sky over your head. The majority are transmitting data and images unencrypted on amateur radio frequencies that can be received with simple, homebuilt antennas and inexpensive software defined radios (SDRs).
Lab Notes: LoRa Activities and Experiments
Balloon & High Powered Rocket Launches
Cubesat simulators can be carried aloft by helium balloons or high powered rockets. Such launches subject the cubesat to forces and environmental stress similar to those a cubesat experiences during launch and in orbit.
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Write Your Code Like NASA Does
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Packet received from Norby LoRa cubesat
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Decoding LoRa Cubesats
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94 CTE Mission CubeSat proposals received
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Use of the ISM band (by LoRa) from space in the SatNOGS forum
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Cubes in Space registration opens Nov 6, 2020
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2020 Virtual AMSAT Space Symposium – Saturday Oct 17
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Proceedings from Small Satellite Conference Available Online
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XinaBox – Modular Components
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