The University at Buffalo Nanosatellite Laboratory is a student-run organization that constructs satellites as part of several government-sponsored satellite programs. Our mission is to educate and inspire students to become pioneers and leaders in the fields of satellite design and space situational awareness research. We aim to innovate nanosatellite development for all generations to come.
GLADOS, our oldest satellite, is a 6U cubesat that will be launched to low earth orbit to gather light data on space debris in geostationary orbit. This light data can be used to classify space debris, as well as to characterize the size, shape, and material properties of space debris. Military and commercial industries rely on space assets such as GPS and communication satellites for their day-to- day operations. However,the exponential increase in space debris over the years poses a risk to these assets. Space debris colliding with satellites has already proven catastrophic: in 2013 a Russian satellite named BLITS was destroyed after colliding with leftover debris from a purposefully-destroyed Chinese satellite. Data gathered from GLADOS can be used to protect this space infrastructure and improve Space Situational Awareness (SSA)
Work on GLADOS started in 2011 for the Air Force Research Laboratory’s University Nanosatellite Program 7, but wasn’t selected for Phase-B funding until AFRL UNP-8 in 2015. It uses two cameras to accomplish its mission. The cameras observe visible wavelengths. Also, GLADOS has undergone many revisions during its lifetime, and its development cycle helped UBNL gain the knowledge necessary to grow into the multi-satellite lab it is today. Currently, GLADOS is working towards several important system level tests for its PIR. These tests will rigorously evaluate of all the components and software of the satellite. The results of these tests will prove that all the pieces of the satellite can work together as a system to accomplish GLADOS’s mission. Delivery of GLADOS to the Air Force is currently scheduled for mid 2024, with an anticipated launch in 2025.
Polarimetric Observer Light Analyzing Research (POLAR) is UBNL’s newest satellite. the students will investigate space debris, a growing issue in Earth’s orbit. POLAR is a 6U Nanosatellite that will be launched to LEO to gather polarimetric data from glinting LEO satellites. Payload is a novel type of polarimeter with zero moving parts and can take instantaneous snapshots of polarimetric data.
The Payload is a novel type of polarimeter with zero moving parts and can take instantaneous snapshots of polarimetric data. This data can increase Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and help protect important space assets from space debris. Polar is still in its preliminary design stage.
Short Cycle Lab (SCL)
The UBNL Short Cycle Lab, or “SCL” provides students with the opportunity to build experience on multi-disciplinary short-term projects related to satellites and nanosatellites. The aim of the lab is to introduce students to the tools and skills of UBNL, the systems engineering process, and satellite basics. These projects are ideal for onboarding new UBNL members and assuring that they have the skills necessary to contribute to nanosatellite missions. SCL also helps students to become acquainted with the lab and its members without being thrown directly onto difficult and advanced subsystem projects. Plus, it’s fun, unique, and a great way to learn.
With each cycle we grow and adapt to changes in technology and education. We welcome all skill and class levels. Some projects the SCL has worked on are: high altitude balloon payloads, satellite antenna deployment burn-wire mechanism, a mobile ground station, an altimeter study, and a satellite ground station.
Please reach out to Zackary Malmberg (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Thomas Blum (email@example.com) for information!