Ardusat lets students to launch experiments in space and collect data from an orbiting satellite.
Ask any classroom of kids what they want to be when they grow up, and undoubtedly a few imaginative youngsters will answer emphatically with “astronaut!” With that lofty goal in mind, Salt Lake City-based startup Ardusat has partnered with satellite-based data provider Spire to launch a program that would bring space exploration to the classroom, allowing students to use programmable sensors onto satellites. And sure, while satellites may conjure up images of bus-sized contraptions, many of those now going into orbit are nearly the size of a softball.
As previously reported on Bits & Pieces, Ardusat is a first-of-its-kind open satellite platform that enables students to easily design and run applications, games and experiments in space, while also steering onboard cameras to take pictures. Since being first successfully launched back in August 2013 and transferred onto the ISS, Ardusat has already found its way into more than 40 schools that incorporate its space kits. What’s more, the company recently attained $1 million in seed funding from Space Florida, Fresco Capital, Spire and other undisclosed investors, and hopes to use the money to expand its program.
Ardusat is designed to give ordinary people the chance to easily program and control over 25 different integrated sensors including spectrometers, barometers, magnetometers, radiation measurement devices, gyroscopes, accelerometers and thermometers. Aside from those, each kit contains an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), a breadboard, LEDs, jumper wires, resistors and a USB cable.
The space kits mimic the function and size of actual satellites that are currently overhead. Once students complete their project inside the classroom, Ardusat tests their codes and sends the so-called “CubeSat” to one of the actual satellites. These CubeSats then orbit the Earth at nearly five miles per second, collecting a variety of data that students can actually use.
While a classroom full of space kits may cost over $2,500, the curriculum and the online resources are available for free. Beyond that, an individual unit, which designed for three to five students working together, will only set you back $150. Interested in learning more? Head over to their official page here.