The WeissSat-1 is a small nanosatellite form factor measuring 10cm on a side with a mass of approximately 1.33kg. A CubeSat with dimensions of 10cm X 10cm X 10cm is referred to as a 1U. Multiples of this satellite (2U, 3U,6U, etc.) are also commonly flown into space.
WeissSat-1 utilizes dual microcontrollers. The PIC microcontroller transmits 20 data packets that communicate sensor data to the CubeSat bus processor. Packets 6-18 correlate directly to the payload, and send bytes containing data on the flashes of red and green fluorescence from each bacteria. Data will be sent in hexadecimal format with 8 bits to each byte, and 20 bytes per transmission. To ensure data is successfully received by the GlobalStar Network, it will be stored in non volatile memory, and resent throughout the satellite’s lifetime.
CubeSats were intended originally for education and created by Stanford’s Bob Twiggs and Cal-Poly’s Jordi Suari-Puig (History, 2017). They developed both the CubeSat and its accompanying deployment mechanism, the P-POD.
Where a large communication satellite may span twenty plus years from design to end of its life, these small spacecrafts allow STEM university students to build, test, and fly them within four years. In the past fifteen years CubeSats have emerged as disruptive technology, and once where only nations could place satellites into orbit, now a motivated middle school, The Weiss School, will do so.
The original plan
The plan was multi-pronged and depended on early third-party validation, measurable early student successes, and building a strong sense of team and loyalty.
The experiential elements would consist of both hands-on work at the school and traveling to the University of Florida (UF) to attend workshops. At UF the WCDT met with the undergraduate and graduate engineering students from the Small Satellite Design Club. Optimal attitudes and behaviors in the younger students are more easily developed by working closely with those already in the field.