Unmanned Systems Research Institute
Extended High Altitude Balloon
Balloons offer a unique method to explore both Earth and other planets in our solar system. On Earth, standard meteorological balloons can deliver small scientific payloads to the stratosphere for a few tens of minutes, but achieving multi-hour level flight in this region is more difficult. An OSU team of students is working with NASA JPL and Sandia National Laboratories to develop and test solar-powered hot air balloons that can maintain a nearly constant altitude in the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere as long as the sun is above the horizon. These are being used for both weather and geological observations carrying packages of meteorological and infrasonic sensors aloft, but also serve as a test platform to demonstrate interplanetary mission capabilities
Hybrid Space Communication
Connecting the Earth and Moon
A space communication network suitable for planned lunar missions requires a hybrid approach, incorporating both RF and optical communication elements within a smart networking framework. OSU's theoretical and experimental effort integrates RF and optical communication systems for small satellites (smallSats) and will design an encompassing network architecture that leverages this combination among Earth stations, a LEO smallSats constellation, the Lunar Gateway, and Moon explorers. The Hybrid Space Communication is a joint project between the ECE and MAE departments at Oklahoma State University.
Improving the Detection of Radiation Particles
A successful 2018 project with NASA is providing the foundation for an improved radiation detector. Physicist Dr. Eric Benton and graduate students in his lab developed a tissue equivalent radiation dosimeter that flew on the International Space Station. They found it produced predictable, reliable data, noting changes in radiation exposure as the space station passed over the poles or went through the South Atlantic Anomaly where the radiation belt dips close to earth.