Pathfinder for Autonomous Navigation team members perform tests on spacecraft batteries

NASA To Send 2 Satellites Into Space Designed By Cornell Lab

There’s something about outer space that naturally captures our imagination. From little kids dreaming about becoming astronauts, to full grown adults gazing up at the majesty of the stars, the final frontier timelessly inspires us all. Despite this seemingly natural fascination, few could ever hope to get there because of the exorbitant costs often associated with space flight missions. However, with the advent of 3D printing and work from Space Systems Design Studio – the research lab of Prof. Mason Peck, mechanical and aerospace engineering – this reality is sure to change in the near future. This past March, NASA selected 11 research groups from across the country to partake in their CubeSat launch initiative, which was a project designed to encourage the development of “CubeSats,” or “nano-satellites.” According to NASA, a typical CubeSat unit measures 4×4 inches, and weighs roughly three pounds.

A computer-generated image of Cassini entering Saturn's atmosphere.

To Infinity and Beyond: Cornell Astronomers Bid Farewell to Cassini

After 20 years, NASA’s Cassini mission ended with the spacecraft’s spectacular plunge into Saturn. To the very end, Cassini had its antenna pointed back at Earth to relay information about the planet’s atmosphere. Over the years, many Cornell astronomers had the opportunity to work closely on the project and have plenty of memories to share. Among them is Prof. Joseph Burns, astronomy, who is a member of Cassini’s imaging teams.

“Were it not for Saturn’s fleet of 62 satellites, the cloud of dust orbiting Saturn would assume the form of a circular disk in the equatorial plane, rather than discrete rings”, Burns said. “Cassini taught us that in order to understand the behavior of planetary ring systems, we need to observe them continuously over an extended period of time.