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2019 CubeSat Astronomy Workshop


Friday, April 26, 2019

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California



In 1999, California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) and Stanford University proposed designing, building, and operating standardized miniature satellites they called CubeSats as an educational tool for teaching students about spacecraft hardware, electronics, programming, and operation. The basic 1U CubeSat is 10 cm on a side, while a 3U CubeSat is 10x10x30 cm. This standardization not only allowed multiple CubeSats to be deployed from spring-loaded boxes as excess cargo, but encouraged the development and manufacture of miniature power, communications, computer, and orientation modules that fit together in a CubeSat. 


Originally, most CubeSats were designed by students and faculty, but commercially designed and operated CubeSats are now in the majority, such as the many downward-pointing 3U telescopes built and operated by PLANET, a Silicon Valley tech startup. It’s not hard to envision many upward-pointing CubeSat telescopes designed, built, and utilized by students and faculty for astronomical research. A few have already been launched, and, as suggested by Arizona State University astronomer Evgenya Shkolnik by the title of her recent (attached) paper, we are “On the verge of an astronomy CubeSat revolution.” 


The time is ripe to bring together the nascent CubeSat Astronomy community-of-practice which consists of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics students and faculty, and supporting government agencies, foundations, and commercial firms. Each year, for the past 15 years, Cal Poly has hosted the CubeSat Developer’s Workshop, and in 2019, it will be immediately followed by the first CubeSat Astronomy Workshop. All are welcome. 

  • Introduction: Big picture overviews of CubeSats, space telescopes, astronomical research, and student scientific research, engineering development, and educational opportunities.

  • Science: Scientific research opportunities for CubeSat space telescopes in wavelengths from ultraviolet to RF. Precision time-series photometry and spectroscopy.  Partnering with large space and ground telescopes such as TESS, LSST, and LIGO.

  • Education: Student educational opportunities for scientific research and engineering development, including co-authoring published papers and giving presentations at conferences and workshops.

  • In Orbit: CubeSat telescopes and astrophysical experiments already in orbit such as ASTERIA, PicSat, HaloSat.

  • Future Projects: Projects still in development or the conceptual stage such as SPARCS and CUTE.

  • Community: Building the CubeSat Astronomy community and planning for the future. Small working group discussions that report to the entire workshop. Written workshop summary communique.  



  • 6:00 pm: Pre-Workshop Dinner at Beda's Biergarten

FRIDAY, APRIL 26, 2019

Click on links for downloadable presentations

Contact Co-organizers at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Charles VanSteenwyk,, 805.503.5067

Russell Genet,, 805.438.3305

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