News

2022

June 14, 2022

Space Dynamics Lab Cameras Enable NASA Mission to Discover Volcanic Eruption Reached Space

In a recent study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers used data provided by NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer satellite, or ICON, to conclude that the effects of a volcanic eruption earlier this year reached into space. Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory developed cameras in two of the primary instruments on board ICON and led the payload integration and test activities for NASA.

On Jan. 15, a submarine volcano erupted 40 miles north of the Tongan island of Tongatapu. The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai volcanic eruption was heard from Australia to Alaska. A shock wave from the blast traveled 670 miles per hour into the atmosphere — carrying with it a giant plume of gases, water vapor and dust, according to NASA. Together with data obtained from the European Space Agency’s Swarm satellites, ICON data helped scientists determine that the volcanic eruption’s effects produced winds at up to 450 miles per hour and unusual electric currents in the ionosphere.

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June 1, 2022

Space Dynamics Lab Completes Critical Tests of Pathfinder Model for Constellation of Small Satellites

Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory announced Wednesday that it has completed a series of critical functional and environmental tests of the Protoflight Model satellite for NASA’s Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment mission, known as SunRISE. SunRISE will be a constellation of six small satellites built and tested at SDL.

SunRISE is led by Principal Investigator Justin Kasper at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. It is scheduled to launch as a hosted rideshare with a commercial satellite no earlier than July 2023.

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May 24, 2022

Space Dynamics Lab Elects Retired Space Commander to Board of Directors

Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory announced Tuesday that it has elected retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson to its Board of Directors. Thompson is a distinguished veteran who most recently served as the final commander of the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, headquartered at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California.

“As one of the nation’s most prominent leaders in space and defense, General Thompson will be a vital addition to SDL’s Board of Directors,” said SDL President Jed Hancock, Ph.D. “General Thompson is a highly decorated veteran who has been responsible for some of the most significant space-based solutions for U.S. national security and whose expertise in that domain will serve SDL well.”

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May 17, 2022

Are We Alone in the Cosmos? Space Dynamics Lab to Help Answer the Question

Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory announced Tuesday that it has delivered a critical subsystem to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for integration onto the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. The Cryogenic Thermal Subsystem for the Roman Coronagraph Instrument was delivered to JPL at SDL’s facilities on USU’s Innovation Campus.

SDL designed, built, tested, and delivered the Cryogenic Thermal Subsystem, which includes two space-qualified radiators, two thermal straps, and support structures that will reject heat generated by the detectors of Roman’s sensitive Coronagraph Instrument. One of two instruments on the Roman Space Telescope, the Roman Coronagraph Instrument will demonstrate technology to enable future missions to discover and characterize planets that could sustain life within their star’s habitable zones. Planets within a habitable zone are those within the range of a star where water could exist on the planet’s surface.

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May 10, 2022

Space Dynamics Laboratory-Built Small Satellite Completes Mission Beyond Expectations

A small satellite built and operated by Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory to provide NASA with vital climate information completed its mission and performed more than 22 months beyond its mission requirement. SDL built the HARP CubeSat to carry the Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter payload developed by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, under the direction of Principal Investigator J. Vanderlei Martins.

Designed for a NASA mission lasting 90 days, the HARP CubeSat deployed from the International Space Station into low Earth orbit on Feb. 19, 2020. The spacecraft deorbited recently after two years of operations providing important information about the microphysical properties of cloud water and ice particles.

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May 4, 2022

Space Dynamics Lab Founder, Engineering Professor Emeritus Passes Away

Recently retired Utah State University engineering professor and Space Dynamics Laboratory Founder Doran Baker passed away on Tuesday, May 3.

Baker retired from the university last June after 62 years of service. His work in electrical engineering helped put Utah State on the map as a hub for space research.

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May 2, 2022

Launching Careers: Space Dynamics Lab Celebrates Class of 2022 Graduating Student Employees

Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory announced today that 51 of its student employees will graduate with degrees ranging from engineering to rhetoric during USU’s 135th commencement and college ceremonies on Thursday, May 5, and Friday, May 6, 2022.

More than 150 student employees from USU work together with approximately 1,000 engineers, scientists, technicians and business professionals at SDL while earning their undergraduate and graduate degrees. SDL provides unique opportunities for student employees to work on programs of national significance to help solve technical challenges faced by the military, science community and industry.

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April 26, 2022

Space Dynamics Laboratory Awarded 10-Year Contract for up to $1 Billion

Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory announced that it has received an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory valued at up to $1 billion over the next 10 years.

SDL will support the Air Force Research Laboratory and the United States Space Force with a broad array of tasks that fall under a specific set of SDL’s core competencies, including small satellite, satellite constellation, and sensor system technology research, analysis, integration, test, and evaluation.

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April 21, 2022

Space Dynamics Lab to Support NASA's Solar Sail for Deep Space Missions Demonstration

Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory announced Thursday that it has been awarded a contract to build two space-based radios for NASA’s Solar Cruiser mission. The contract was awarded by Solar Cruiser prime contractor Ball Aerospace, which is providing a small satellite.

Solar Cruiser is a technology demonstration mission sponsored by the NASA Heliophysics Division’s Solar Terrestrial Probes Program that integrates several new technologies aboard the small satellite to validate solar sail propulsion, which uses sunlight to propel a spacecraft. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is developing the Solar Cruiser mission to mature solar sail propulsion technology for future missions.

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