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For Students: BudSat

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Who are we?

We are a student lead group facilitated by Budmouth college who are working together to produce a functioning satellite.

The team is comprised of:
Tom Hinde - Project leader
Robin Brook - Head of engineering
Alex Freeman - Project coordinator
Ethan Purnell - Producer and editor of written material
Matt Pawsey - Head of programming

Our goals:
Our primary goal is to build an orbiting, functional CubeSat, which carries out a real, useful scientific experiment, the detection of primary cosmic rays. Our secondary goal is to be able to inspire other organisations such as schools and amateur radio clubs, by making our data downloadable from space by anyone, and available on a public database accessible to anyone.

What is a CubeSat?
A CubeSat is a small satellite which is 10cm x 10cm x 10cm, and which may have a mass of no less than 1.33kg. When launched into Low Earth Orbit, they usually remain in orbit for a period of around six months, after which they burn up in the Earth's atmosphere.

Cosmic Rays:
Cosmic rays are extremely high energy particles (between the order of 0.1GeV to 3x1011 GeV for each particle). The average kinetic energy for a cosmic ray is around 0.3 GeV. If the particle in question is a proton, the expected velocity is 63% of the speed of light. However, for the extremely high energy particles, this velocity can be 100 - 0.5x10-21 % of the speed of light. These high energy particles are emitted mainly from supernova shocks, but also from other shockwaves, electric fields in spinning pulsars, and the rearrangements of large magnetic fields. They can also come from the Sun and heliosphere termination shock. Some also seem to originate from other galaxies.
Detecting Cosmic Rays To detect primary cosmic rays directly, each individual particle has to be slowed down, so that it decays. When the particle decays, decay of that particle causes a photon to be emitted. The number of photons emitted is related to both the scintillation material and the particles' energies. The scintillation material will have a fixed number of photons which it emits per keV.
Using a photomultiplier of some kind, the photon emission is amplified, so it can be detected by a high-resolution photon detector. This is what records the high energy particle.

To communicate with the satellite, we will need to establish a two-way radio link with the satellite. This will be via a UHF and a VHF link and will enable anyone with amateur radio equipment to downlink the data. The downlink data will include the experimental data, alongside GPS coordinates. The uplink will take commands directly to the satellite, such as requesting a transmission, or to override a function being run by the main program.
To be able to communicate using radio frequencies, we will need to request a radio licence from Ofcom. The licence is given to the satellite in order to send and receive data as a secondary user on an allocated "amateur" band of frequencies. This licence permits users who hold their own radio licence to communicate with the satellite provided the communication is not interfering with the primary frequency holder. In the event of our satellite interfering with the primary user, the satellite transmissions will be turned off temporarily until the issue is solved; with the aid of a beacon the satellite may be switched back on.