Five University of Maine students participated in a recent launch process as a rocket loaded with wireless sensors the students developed in a UMaine lab blasted off in California’s Mojave Desert.
The students, working under UMaine electrical and computer engineering Associate Professor Ali Abedi, collaborated on the NASA-funded project with faculty and student researchers at California State University at Long Beach and Garvey Spacecraft Corporation (GSC), a Long Beach, Calif.-based R&D company that focuses on cost-effective development of advanced space technologies and launch systems.
The UMaine payload, which was integrated into a rocket known as the Prospector 18B, included sets of wireless sensors that detect acceleration in three dimensions to determine the amount of vibration of the rocket before and during liftoff. The vibration levels are crucial because even the most miniscule amount of vibration before launch could throw off a rocket from its intended path and reduce engine performance.
The sensors sent back data to a laptop on the ground during the launch, and also stored data on board the payload when the sensors went out of range of the laptop. Abedi and his students will hand over their data to Cal State Long Beach, GSC and NASA so that those organizations can continue refining their models.
The launch allowed the UMaine researchers real-world experimentation on the sensors.
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