Ohio State’s first satellite prepares for launch

Its name may playfully give homage to a 1980s video arcade game, but the technology on board The Ohio State University’s first satellite -- the CubeRRT -- could be vital for Earth science missions into the future. It is scheduled for launch May 20.

Project leader Joel Johnson, professor and chair of electrical and computer engineering (ECE) at Ohio State, said the CubeSat Radiometer Radio Frequency Interference Technology Validation mission (CubeRRT) contains advanced sensors for observing Earth’s environment from space.

The Ohio State team named the CubeRRT satellite after “Q*bert,” one of the most popular video arcade games of the 1980s.

The technology on board is designed to solve a major problem for researchers by breaking through noisy radio transmissions that can interfere with efforts to detect from space what’s happening on Earth.

Johnson explained that Earth emits natural microwave frequencies, which scientists study with sensors called radiometers. The data from these sensors helps determine soil moisture, sea temperature, sea ice coverage, weather and much more.

Editor’s Notes:

Live launch coverage will begin at 4:30 a.m. Sunday May 20 on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Joel Johnson will participate in a prelaunch briefing at 1 p.m. Saturday May 19 which can be viewed on NASA Television and the agency’s website.