University of Kansas Engineering students took second place at the first NearSat Competition in June. The event, sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Astronautical Society, the National Space Grant Consortia and several industry leaders, was held near Plaster City, Calif.
Students from universities across the country were invited to design, build and launch a space-type system as part of the competition. These systems, known as NearSats, could include a BalloonSat a payload carried to burst altitude by a weather balloon and then allowed to float through descent by parachute or a CanSat a small soda-can size payload carried aloft by high-power rockets. Design specifications and competition details were announced in August, 2004 and all student teams were given two semesters to complete a CanSat project.
A high-power rocket is a nonmetallic amateur rocket that uses commercial solid-propellant rocket motors, similar to model rockets but much more powerful. The CanSat payload the students designed had to determine its maximum altitude, range distance from deployment to landing, the direction of travel using any combination of sensors, and measure temperature to +/- 1 degree Centigrade at least once every 10 seconds during flight. The team that could best determine altitude, range, and direction received the most points for the flight portion of the competition. Students also were called upon to submit written reports and make an oral presentation.
The seven-member University of Kansas team included students in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. For their effort, the KU team returned to Kansas with a check for $1,500 and a plaque. Faculty sponsor for the KU students was Trevor Sorensen, associate professor of aerospace engineering.
NearSat is expected to become a recurring event. The 2005-2006 event will take place at NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
KU Students who took part in the event were: