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AEM spotlight:

U's entry into Nanosat-4 finishes strong, students begin next round

Paul Dye

The University's entry into Nanosat-5, "Goldeneye," has an updated website, available here.

At the University, students are utilizing GPS for more than navigating the innumerable one-ways of downtown Minneapolis.

Members of Minnesat, the University of Minnesota’s entry in the student-driven Nanosatellite program, recently competed in the final stages of Nanosat-4, which marked Minnesota’s first jaunt into the world of microsatellites.

The Nanosat project is a competition among colleges nationwide – the winners of which will get to launch their satellite into space, thanks to the United States Air Force. This year’s top honors went to Cornell’s CUSat (

Minnesat allows GPS attitude determination in space, cheaply and efficiently.

Minnesat student project director Jason Mintz said the project was exciting because students constructed a working satellite from scratch, and because industry is actually taking interest in the outcome.

“We have a very simple, scientifically-relevant and exciting experiment from a scientific standpoint that a lot of people are interested in seeing,” he said.
Students and faculty are now looking to next year, and the next round: Nanosat-5. Minnesota's entry has been dubbed "Goldeneye."

“The concept for Nanosat-5 is called ‘GPS Bistatic Radar’ and the idea is to look at GPS signal reflected off other objects to determine their position and motion,” said Minnesat Adviser Demoz Gebre-Egziabher.

Gebre-Egziabher, a McKnight Land-Grant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics, said both the current and future Minnesat projects could have positive implications for industry.

“The science mission we are proposing has the implication of making the ability to detect other objects near a satellite inexpensive,” he said. “It will be an efficient way to equip satellites with the ability to detect objects in orbit.”

The project has also created capacity in the department for more satellite research – and teaching.

Goldeneye is seeking interested students for the next phase.

“We need students that are first and foremost interested in spacecraft design and operation,” Gebre-Egziabher said. “Secondly, they must be willing to get their hands ‘dirty;’ they must be willing and want to build things - mostly electronic hardware.”

Mintz, an aerospace senior, said hands-on experience in Minnesat has helped “tremendously” with job interviews.

“This gave me a unique experience – you’re not just doing the paper design on something, but you build it, troubleshoot it, and find out what went wrong and what works. It’s terrific experience that a lot of students don’t get a chance to have.”

For more information about the Goldeneye project contact Prof. Gebre-Egziabher (gebre(AT) or Student Project Manager Ellie Field at field0140 (AT), or visit Goldeneye's newly-launched website.

Last Modified: Wednesday, 22-Aug-2012 11:40:56 CDT -- this is in International Standard Date and Time Notation