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URA Archive
Scholars 2009 - 2010

James Gerity

James Gerity(pictured) and Tyler Schmitz
“Cloud-CubeSat: Designing a Picosatellite”
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Vanderlei Martins
Expected Graduation Date: May 2011


At this time, measurements of cloud structure (vapor content, etc.)  are difficult to obtain. Generally, these data are collected during  in situ aircraft experiments, which typically last several hours.  The snapshot they provide is therefore incomplete; the structure of  the cloud has changed by the time the measurements are complete. The  goal of the Cloud-CubeSat project is to design and create a  picosatellite (10x10x30cm, 3kg) to take these measurements from orbit  around the Earth, using Cal Poly's CubeSat satellite standard as a  base. Unlike previous CubeSats, this satellite has very specific  pointing requirements, necessitating a sophisticated attitude control  system. Such systems, although frequently implemented on larger  satellites, are virtually unproven on the scale of a CubeSat. Using  hardware and algorithms designed by engineering students at Olin  College, our goal is to assemble a prototype of Cloud-CubeSat and construct a testbed to investigate the problem of three-axis stability.