Taylor Satellite (TSAT) is a student-developed 2 Unit (4 by 4 by 8 inch) nanosatellite participating in NASA’s ELANA-5 (Educational Launch of Nanosatellites) program and is scheduled to launch in late March 2014. TSAT will investigate the low-altitude ionosphere (120-350 km) in the Extremely Low Earth Orbit (ELEO) satellite region. This relatively uncharted region is difficult to measure because satellite lifetimes are short in this region and data transfer is delayed using conventional ground stations. These difficulties have prevented many in-situ ionospheric measurements from being made. Though rockets passing through this region have taken some measurements, the region remains relatively unexplored. Thus, TSAT will fly an instrument suite that will collect data to study the effects of ionospheric phenomena most likely caused by the plasma environment within the region.
In order to best explore this unknown region, TSAT houses detectors for energetic particle study, a Langmuir probe (plasma probe) for determining electron density and temperature, and a 3-axis magnetometer which determines pointing direction and produces VLF wave measurements.
To address the issue of ground communication with delayed data transfer, TSAT utilizes for the first time a Globalstar Satellite-to-Satellite communications modem. This means that TSAT will directly communicate with the Globalstar Satellite Network. Each Globalstar satellite will transmit any data it receives to its own ground station. The data will then be sent via Internet to Taylor University servers.
TSAT resulted from an educational based program at Taylor University that enables undergraduate students to work on meaningful projects with real world application. Many of the students that have worked on TSAT have since graduated from Taylor. Contributing students include Dan McClure, David Lew, Matt Orvis, Adam Kilmer, Jacob Baranowski, Paul Kuehl, Seth Foote, Kevin Seifert, and Natalie Ramm. TSAT developed under the guidance of Dr. Hank Voss and Professor Jeff Dailey. Each student, under faculty advising, takes full responsibility of his or her subsystem. Throughout the design and development process, students learn valuable skills, team work, and experience the end-to-end engineering process.