University of Colorado
College of Engineering & Applied Science
Aerospace Engineering Sciences
Department Update | Spring 2013

The CASTOR student team included, from left to right, Melissa Honaker, Shane Ahrens, Maxwell Knarr, Mark Coffman, and Jack Mills.
NASA selects CU-Boulder CubeSat for launch
A 2011-12 senior design project by aerospace engineering students has become the basis for a new CubeSat selected by NASA for future launch.

The new CubeSat, called the High Latitude Ionospheric Thermospheric Experiment, or HiLITE, will be a collaboration between the aerospace department and two small Boulder-based companies, Blue Canyon Technologies and ASTRA, which are supported by the Air Force to help develop CubeSat hardware.

Associate Prof. Scott Palo says the HiLITE bus will build upon the CubeSat for Atmospheric Studies in Orbit and Re-entry (CASTOR), which was developed as a senior project by students Shane Ahrens, Jacob Cook, Maxwell Knarr, Denver Powell, Mark Coffman, Melissa Honaker, Jack Mills, and Jonathon Stark. A new student team will be selected later this semester to move the project forward.

HiLITE's mission will be to measure atmospheric density, which impacts satellite positioning, and other space weather conditions.

NASA selected HiLITE as one of 24 satellites in the fourth round of its CubeSat Launch Initiative, to fly as auxiliary payloads aboard rocket missions scheduled for 2014, 2015 and 2016. CubeSats measure about 4 inches on each side, are about 1 quart in volume, and can weigh less than 3 pounds.
Alum Works to Redirect Asteroids
The work of a recent AES graduate is aimed at diverting disasters such as the one that occurred last month when a meteoroid exploded in the Earth's atmosphere above Russia, causing widespread injury and property damage.

Employed at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL), Chris Dong (MS '08) recently was part of a five-person team working with the European Space Agency (ESA) on an exciting concept to measure the effectiveness of crashing a vehicle into an asteroid to change its orbit. Chris was the lead mission design analyst for the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART).

DART is part of the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment study, a collaboration between ESA and JHU/APL that is unique in that it merges both scientific discovery and planetary defense strategies into one single mission. The study seeks to provide insight on the physical properties and dynamic behavior of a binary asteroid system and to measure the effectiveness of an asteroid impact risk mitigation strategy. The target of the mission is the near-Earth binary asteroid Didymos (1996 GT).

DART will provide a kinetic impactor vehicle to impact and deflect the secondary body of the Didymos system, while ESA's Asteroid Impact Monitoring rendezvous spacecraft observes and measures the change in orbit of the secondary body around the primary body caused by DART. A change in orbital velocity of over 60 millimeters per second is needed for the secondary body to escape the gravitational influence of the primary one.

"This impact will be fractions of a millimeter per second," says Chris, "so fears of the secondary's orbit becoming Earth-bound should be allayed." (Photo credit: European Space Agency)

>> See ESA's official AIDA page for more details
CU AES at the National Space Symposium
We are pleased to announce that the Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics will be hosting a booth this year at the National Space Symposium, April 8-11 at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs.

We expect the symposium - the premier gathering of space professionals - to draw more than 9,000 people from around the world, including speakers, attendees, exhibitors, educators, and students. The symposium will offer presentations and panels covering all aspects of space, plus special events and presentations of prestigious Space Foundation awards. Additional information and registration details can be found at

The University of Colorado will be stationed in the main hall of the Lockheed Martin Exhibit Center in booth #506. If you are attending the symposium, please stop by our booth. We would love to catch up with you!
Note from the Chair, Penny Axelrad
This is
turning out to
be a busy
and exciting
semester for
AES. We are
in the midst
of four faculty
searches in the areas of astrodynamics, controls, fluids, and bioastronautics with excellent candidates visiting campus weekly. The competition for new faculty is tough - many aerospace departments across the country are actively recruiting. The strength of our department faculty and students, and our potential future opportunities, will definitely be a plus in making successful hires over the next few months.

The other big activity is the launch of the CU-Boulder AeroSpace Ventures Initiative, which brings together cutting-edge aerospace engineering and science research across campus (AES, LASP, ATOC, APS and others) with leading industry partners to develop new instruments, vehicles, systems, and methods to observe, measure, and better understand earth and space, and to broadly educate tomorrow's highly-skilled aerospace workforce.

We will have more information about AeroSpace Ventures at the CU-Boulder booth at the National Space Symposium in April. Please stop by if you are there!

Upcoming Events
April 19: Senior/Graduate Design Symposium

April 8-11: National Space Symposium

May 3: Graduating Student Breakfast

See local and regional college alumni events >

Honors & Awards
Prof. George Born will receive the College of Engineering and Applied Science's 2013 Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award (Special Category) in April.

Assistant Prof. Mahmoud Hussein won a 2013 NSF CAREER award for his proposal "Nonlinear, Dissipative Mechanics of Phononic Materials: An Integrated Research and Education Plan."

Associate Prof. Scott Palo was selected as a principal investigator for the fourth round of NASA CubeSat Missions.

Prof. Daniel Scheeres won the American Astronautical Society's 2012 Dirk Brouwer Award.

Prof. Jeff Thayer served on a Jan. 28 panel on "Space Technology Policy: Exploring Options" co-hosted by the American Chemical Society's Science & Congress Project and the American Geophysical Union in Washington, D.C.

Junior Christopher Nie was selected for the 2013 NASA Student Ambassador Program (advisor: D. Klaus)

DayStar (2011-2012 senior project) won the SpaceX Grand Prize and $1,000 at the 2013 American Astronomical Society Guidance, Navigation & Control Conference in Breckenridge, Colo. (advisors: S. Palo and H. Schaub).

The Hyperion Green Aircraft team continued its winning streak with the "Best Paper Award" given by the AIAA Design Engineering Technical Committee (2013) (advisor: J. Koster).

Sarah Melssen, CCAR Research Manager, received the College of Engineering and Applied Science Commitment to Excellence Award in December 2012.

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Aerospace Engineering Sciences
College of Engineering and Applied Science | P: 303-492-6417 | F: 303-492-7881
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