First open-source satellite project puts citizen science sensors in space.

By June 17th, 2012 at 8:39 am | Comment

What would you do if you had one week to control a research satellite?

That probably depends on who you are. Amateur photographers might want to take time-lapse photos of the moon to frame in series in their living room. University researchers might want to measure levels of ozone variation on earth across earth’s latitudes. A high school teacher might want to set up the ultimate class project to challenge their students to be real scientists. There might even be someone brave enough to beam down a cosmic marriage proposal!

The great news is that all of these possibilities can become realities with the ArduSat Project.

When I first heard of the ambitious nature of the project I was admittedly a little weary. But, after seeing the amount of initial support and the details of how the project will be funded and carried out, I now believe that the ArduSat Project is an amazingly unique and innovative way for the public to become involved in actual space exploration.

A partnership between Nanosatisfi, SciStarter, Science Cheerleader, and Discover Magazine is helping to launch the effort, gain initial support, and get the word out.

Image of the ArduSat Online Control Center where you can view the location and current camera views in real-time.

Image of the ArduSat Online Control Center where you can view the location and current camera views in real-time.

The ArduSat (Arduino Satellite) utilizes state of the art Arduino Processors to process data from over 25 sensors, all housed within a 10cm x 10cm x 10cm CubeSat miniature satellite. Participants will be able to collaborate with others to formulate, test, and ultimately deploy publicly designed applications to run experiments.

What makes this all possible is a unique funding plan set up through the project’s Kickstarter Campaign. The campaign site also has all the information you will need to get started with the project. As with any Kickstarter project, based on the amount you pledge, you are rewarded with increasingly enticing awards. Rewards start at very reasonable pledge amounts and include chances to have satellite photos sent right to your email inbox, development packages to design advanced Arduino based applications, and reserved satellite time to run experiments.

The Kickstarter campaign ends July 15th and has a goal of $35,000 – so hurry and reserve your spot! Plus, Discover is running a contest until July 6th, to determine the application with the most innovative use of ArduSat. The grand prize is the $1,500 advanced sensor package and a full week to run your experiment. All you have to do to enter is join the campaign at the $1 level! This is an outstanding opportunity to challenge your science class, friends, and fellow space buffs to come together and be handsomely rewarded for inventive ideas.

The possibilities with this project are truly endless, allowing citizen scientists all over the world a amazing opportunity to engage in space exploration. So let your imagination run wild and get involved!

Be sure to follow all the action on Twitter with @scistarter, @discovermag, and @nanosatisfi.