The Interstellar Microgravity Experiment (TIME)
Be part of sending Berkeley to space in 2017! Help us fund a hands-on, student-based research experiment to enable the future of space exploration.
Who We Are
Space Technologies @ California (STAC) is a group of passionate scientists who want to push the frontier of space research and the space industry. We are not a typical engineering club that focuses on a set competition but rather we focus on making strides in innovating the field of space research! Our innovation in space technologies is a multi-campus effort with UC Santa Barbara.
Figure 1. STAC in Action!
The Interstellar Microgravity Experiments (TIME) are a group of experiments that we would like to test in outer-space to further aerospace research at Berkeley and around the nation. TIME details how being in a low-gravity environment - like space - will affect lifeforms, optics, and physical mechanics.
We recently won the Blue Origin Payload Competition at Dent:Space. This means that we will send a mini enclosure in to space for free through Blue Origin’s New Shepard Spacecraft.
Figure 2: Blue Origin New Shepard Spacecraft
The launch will create a microgravity, outer-space environment for our payload, where we will conduct various experiments, including: (1) observing life’s ability to survive in microgravity by re-animating roundworms, (2) testing laser communications and using lasers to remove space debris, and (3) testing the mechanics of robotic motors.
Figure 3: Our Payload Prototype
Figure 4: STAC Build Day
Figure 5: Timeline
Figure 6: Budget Breakdown*
*The extra $5,000 that we plan to raise from our stretch goal will be used to pay for the payload delivery to Blue Origin in late Fall 2017. Blue Origin requires that we deliver the payload 2 weeks before the launch, however, the payload needs to delivered the day of the launch to keep the roundworms alive. In order for the company to accommodate us, they need a $5,000 same-day integration fee. Any extra funding we receive beyond our stretch goal will be used to sponsor two other projects that STAC has been working on: a Cube Satellite that we plan to launch into space and high altitude balloon testing.
We will be working closely with UC Santa Barbara and their NASA Space-grant funded group, the Deepspace Laboratory. We have also started collaborating with the Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL) here at Berkeley in order to design, test, and build our experiments.
During the design and implementation stages of our project, we have been working with Berkeley’s engineering department, biology department, and Jacobs Institute for Design.
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Details of TIME
C. elegans & Roundworms
C. elegans have been prominently used in spaceflight research. Recently, it was shown that C. elegans also have the ability to undergo suspended animation after being exposed to cooling agents. Specifically, they have been said to withstand .6 Mrad and can be suspended for up to 10-15 years.
To test their ability to be the first specimen to be included on the maiden interstellar voyage, our project would involve suspending the C. elegans into an immobile state, and re-animating them once they are in space to see how they react. Moreover, The two C. elegans groups would each have a paired control group on earth in our labs.
Laser Communication and Ablation
The UCSB DeepSpace Laboratory has already written papers on the applications of laser communications in space. Alongside their researchers, we will send some of their laser communication electronics into low-gravity to see if the transmission is affected in any way. Our stretch goal is to include a small vacuum with an asteroid-like sample or space-debris sample to image the plume exhaust from laser ablation to compare the effect with what we see in the lab in gravity on Earth.
Based off of previous studies on how friction and gravity influence mechanics, we will build mini robotic arm, along with an information encoder, to experimentally see how being in a low-gravity environment influences the mechanics behind robotic movement.
The issue with robotic manipulators on earth is the requirement for high torques to compensate for gravity. Motors must constantly fight the static forces due to gravity, which takes up the majority of the power input. Robots in close contact with humans must be safe and so cannot have high gear trains.
We would like to test the possibilities for brushless direct drive robotic manipulators for human related tasks in space. These measurements we can collect are critical for the design of assistive robots in space for automation, which could greatly impact the future of human space exploration.
Thank you for your support!
To find out more about us, visit us at stac.berkeley.edu or www.facebook.com/stacBerkeley. You can also email us at email@example.com.