What is the McMaster Satellite Team?

The McMaster Satellite Exploration team is a group of McMaster University students that is currently designing, fabricating, and planning to launch a small satellite (CubeSat) into low earth orbit in order to study the effects of ionizing radiation on the human body. A project of this magnitude would offer a brand new learning opportunity that very few universities can provide. With support from the Department of Medical Physics & Applied Radiation Sciences, this newly developed project will give McMaster students an opportunity to enhance their academic experiences through experiential learning.  The students on this team are actively participating in every step of the process, from designing, modelling and launching, and this will truly be an enriching educational experience.

This project is led by Dr. Andrei Hanu, a McMaster Science undergraduate and graduate alumnus, who is currently working at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. This connection is a ground breaking link between McMaster University and NASA; the world’s foremost space agency. This will not only allow students to have access to the resources and expertise to execute this experiment but will also expose students to a science network which to date was nonexistent. The McMaster Satellite Exploration will provide students with an enhanced learning opportunity and a unique skillset that will supplement the academic fundamentals provided through their education at McMaster University. 

 

What is the Motivation?

Recent advancements in space technology have resulted in space exploration becoming a rapidly growing field, and the desire for human space exploration is drastically increasing. Previous manned missions include flights to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), such as to the International Space Station (ISS), however upcoming flights are planned to go beyond LEO, such as to asteroids and eventually Mars. A major consideration in such missions is that the space environment is significantly different from that of Earth, especially with respect to the radiation environment. This drastic difference results in concerns regarding radiation dose.

Space radiation is distinct from naturally occurring forms of radiation on Earth, and significant health risks are associated with long term exposure including cancer, cataracts, central nervous system damage, acute radiation sickness, and hereditary effects. Consequently, the fulfillment of the intended exploration goals of each mission must be carefully managed without exceeding an acceptable level of risk from exposure to space radiation. Therefore, there exists a need for radiation detection systems that are able to classify and characterize the radiological hazards present.

The NEUtron DOSimetry & Exploration (NEUDOSE) mission aims to further our understanding of long-term exposure to space radiation by investigating how charged and neutral particles contribute to the human equivalent dose during LEO missions. This project aims to:

The DINO radiation detector system being developed by McMaster NEUDOSE.

The DINO radiation detector system being developed by McMaster NEUDOSE.

  • Develop a Dosimetric Instrument for Near-earth Orbit (DINO) that allows for the discrimination of dose from charged and neutral particles.

  • Map the contribution to in vivo doses from charged and neutral particles in LEO.

  • Provide hands-on training for McMaster University Undergraduate students in small satellite design platforms.

  • Provide opportunities for McMaster University Undergraduate students to gain valuable and employable skills in project design and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) mission management and implementation.

 



    

 

 

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