First Adler CubeSat Workshop: “From small things, Mama…”

CubeSat workshop attendees get the project off the ground.

“… big things one day come.”

The line from the Bruce Springsteen song, made famous by Dave Edmunds, naturally comes to mind when something like our modest “1st Adler CubeSat Development Workshop” takes place as it did a week ago Saturday. It was well-attended, especially considering the weather, and we feel it was a great success as a starting point for our goal of making Adler the first planetarium with a presence in space, and doing it in a way that’s accessible to nearly anyone who wants to help with or learn from the process. To keep this thing going, we need to follow up on the tasks we identified in our working groups and I’ll get to that,

but first… let’s talk about Me!

Since this is my first blog post, I should introduce myself: I joined the Far Horizons Project staff as Engineer about a year ago, transferring from Adler’s Zooniverse organization when my post-doc as Project Scientist for SETILive ended. I came to Adler two years ago with a brand new Ph.D. in Astronomy from University of Wisconsin, Madison which I obtained after leaving a long career in Electrical Engineering working in radio systems design and development and then getting a M.S. in Physics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Here at Adler, and specifically in the Far Horizons program, I can indulge the full range of interests represented by these three disciplines, and do it in my long-time home and all-time favorite city – Chicago.

CubeSat Workshop Followup

Twenty four people attended the workshop. Given the poor weather conditions, this was a pretty good turnout. My rule of thumb for a decent party with RSVP’s is about 75% attendance with good weather conditions (my number is 50%, but enough said about that). We got about 50% with winter storm warnings and such – not bad! Seven of us were Adler Staff and the rest included Far Horizons Volunteers, college students, college faculty and members of Chicago’s Pumping Station One maker community. After some introductory remarks by Adler”s Ken Walczak and Dr. Geza Gyuk, Dr. Ron Lisowski of the Illinois Institute of Technology provided his perspective based on a teaching career in astronautics, which included working with Air Force Academy cadets in CubeSat launch projects. Ken and I then provided a quick overview of the Far Horizons program and then the real work began.

Dr. Andrew Kruger of Writght College pitches his mission idea.

Many of the attendees then made 5 minute pitches of ideas for mission science or engineering goals to start the process of narrowing things down to a compelling and feasible mission goal. We then broke up into four working groups to figure out what to do next to get things rolling. These teams dealt with Engineering,  System/Program Management,  ELaNa Proposal Development, and Mission Goals.

Our plan was to get the collaboration infrastructure for these teams up within a week of the workshop and although a few days late, we will soon send all the attendees information on how to join circles on our Google+ page, which will serve as our publicly visible social presence for high-level discussion. We’ll also have google groups which will allow each team to collaborate on the nuts-and-bolts work needed to reach the goals we established at the workshop.

The public Google+ page will let the world keep tabs on what we’re doing and the private google groups are where we’ll work together to make it happen. There, we will also work out how to put it “out there” as the first open-source open-access space exploration project built from the ground up by citizen engineers and citizen scientists.

Permanent link to this article:

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: