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Supporting Missions Out Of This World

Stefanie Senkow
December 4, 2018

RadomeThe cranes will converge at the Academy in the coming weeks to install the all-new radome, enclosing a comprehensive satellite ground station, on top of Smith Hall. This device, which is part of the Mobile CubeSat Command and Control (MC3) Ground Station network, will serve as the Coast Guard’s second of two ground stations that can track orbiting spacecraft and offer cadets hands-on research opportunities to propel the Coast Guard’s space initiatives.

“The Academy Science Department partners with various organizations within the MC3 network. These partnerships give us access to satellite data to support student research projects and our space program initiatives,” said Dr. Lorraine Allen, Associate Physics Professor at the Academy. “With the addition of this ground station, not only will we have access to our own data, but given permission, we can download data from our MC3 partners’ satellites.”

“Having this MC3 ground station connects us with a network of expertise in the realm of satellites and satellite data acquisition, which is instrumental in furthering our space initiatives,” said CDR Kyle Young, Permanent Commissioned Teaching Staff.

One of those initiatives is the brand-new Remote Sensing course, which allows cadets to study the theory behind environmental sensing; and investigate image acquisition and data collection in various regions of the electromagnetic spectrum using current satellites and hands-on instrumentation. With the addition of the CGA ground station, the course will offer cadets a unique opportunity to work with homegrown data in its raw form.

“We’ll be able to analyze and interpret data right from our own ground station,” said Professor Brooke Stutzman, Physics Section Chief. “Every step of the process will become intimately available to cadets now that we will have raw data to work with.”

“We eventually hope to build our own cube satellites right here at the Coast Guard Academy in support of Coast Guard operations and educational objectives and, after launch, receive their data via the ground station,” said Dr. Allen.

Everything from using satellites to track ships by name and location, receiving and processing distress signals from the Polar Regions, and examining climate change are all real Coast Guard concerns that can be supported by cadet research done at the Academy. The ground station will pave the way to launch these projects into orbit come spring 2019.