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Solar Panel Deployment

February 17, 2021 (edited February 23, 2021)

satellitesHow to remove satellites from orbit on command—that is the question a team of mechanical and electrical engineering cadets at the Coast Guard Academy are trying to answer. Hayden Carter, Zachary Gordon, Christopher Rosselot and Grayson Wheeler share a preview of their capstone project.

Solar Panel Deployment

Creating a simple and efficient solution for solar panel deployment. Hayden Carter, Zachary Gordon, Christopher Rosselot and Grayson Wheeler share a preview of their capstone project.

Briefly describe your project.

Our project involves designing, testing, and building a low-energy mechanism to deploy and later retract four Solar Panels installed on a CubeSat when their life cycle ends.

Why is there a need for a project/research like this?

Our design introduces a multifaceted approach to combining multiple outputs into a single system. We are repurposing the solar panels as a device to increase drag and act as a small ‘parachute’ for the satellite. The team’s goal is to allow both deployment and decommissioning to be accomplished through a mechanism that is optimized to minimize increase in weight, usage of space, and cost. Upon proving success, our team hopes to create a template product that could be used as an industry standard for commercialized usage in nanosatellites.

How can this project benefit the Coast Guard?

With increasing global movement into space, it is important for the Coast Guard to stay on the front line of advancing technology in order to carry out its 11 missions. Our mechanism has potential to improve future Coast Guard operations that rely on nanosatellites. Possible uses include satellite imagery in the arctic to collect data on the density and location of ice, and building internal communications networks.

What does the future hold for a project like this?

Our project can be modified in the future to independently control the angle at which each panel is set, and possibly be programmed to hold each panel at an optimal angle to catch the sun.

See what Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering projects could await you.