Your Window Into Los Alamos National Laboratory
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CubeSats are miniature, short-lived satellites traditionally launched into low earth orbit, though this summer a pair was deployed on a mission to Mars aboard the stationary lander, InSight. Originally designed in 1999 by professors at Stanford and Cal Poly, their initial purpose was enabling students to construct and operate artificial satellites within the constrained time frame and humble budgets of a graduate degree program. Since then, CubeSats have become increasingly popular with universities, the military, for commercial projects, and even among individual hobbyists with a penchant for satellite technology and a budget to match. With over 800 of these tiny to toaster-sized gadgets currently circling our planet and many more set to launch in the near future, identifying unique CubeSats in the Earth-orbiting crowd has become increasingly challenging for those operating them. Whether in orbit to collect scientific weather data, test space hardware, or for personal artistic projects like Trevor Paglen’s Orbital Reflector, the ability to locate and track a single CubeSat can mean the success or failure of its mission.
At Los Alamos, researchers have developed tiny laser trackers to address this burgeoning dilemma. Created by the Lab’s Intelligence and Space Research Division, the Extremely Low Resource Optical Identifier or “ELROI” uses identification codes embedded in pulses of light to identify these small-scale satellites. For more information on these electronic “license plates,” join us Monday, October 15th at UnQuarked in Los Alamos for a conversation with Rebecca about ELROI, one of the Lab’s latest innovations.
All ages are welcome to attend.
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