Education Post #1: Who’s UBC Orbit, and what do we do?

Well, O Reader, I’m glad you asked! We’re a team of students at the University of British Columbia in lovely Canada. We formed in 2009 so we could compete in the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge, a competition where teams of students design and build satellites (more on that later). We’re made up mostly of Engineering students from a variety of disciplines, but over the years we’ve been around we’ve had student members from Earth & Ocean Sciences to Business to Physics! Everyone’s been welcome to contribute however they could, and we’re proud to say everyone who’s been a part of the team has made their mark.

 

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Some of the UBC Orbit Team, past and present.

So, what’s the Canadian Satellite Design Challange (CSDC)? It’s a competition for teams from Canadian universities. They’re competing over the course of two years to design and build a satellite using freely available (also known as off-the-shelf) parts. The important part is to create a worthy payload for the satellite to carry into space; we’re very proud of ours! Our payload is an antenna that can be used to calibrate a huge radiotelescope array. The radiotelescope is part of the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (also known as CHIME). The purpose of CHIME is to exploit a phenomenon known as redshift to allow us to determine the distribution of neutral hydrogen of over half the sky! This will provide us with invaluable information to allow us to study the early expansion of the universe. The calibration provided by our satellite allows the CHIME team to make their data even more accurate, improving its scientific worth.

We’re coming up on the end of the competition now (final testing is at the end of September!) and it has been a blast so far. However, the team is far from finished! We’ve still got a ton going on, from technology development, outreach programs to local schools, and gearing up for the next iteration of the competition; it’ll be starting soon after this one ends. Come by again soon and check us out! Feel free to drop us a line on our ‘Contact Us‘ page.

Keep watching the skies,

– The Orbit Team

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