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“To say that our rights are actually privileges is to say that someone, presumably some level of government, has the power and the right to grant or deny those privileges. That premise is completely backwards. In the U.S. at least, government exists expressly by the consent of the governed, and our federal and individual state constitutions are expressly written to limit the power of the government, not the citizens. It is the nature of government to constantly try to push the limits of its power, as sure as it is the nature of fish to swim or dogs to bark, which is exactly why it is in all of our interests to push back. Regulations are written by people who for whatever reason believe they have the power and the right to tell other people how they should live their lives. Often this is to force inconsiderate people to respect the rights and autonomy of their neighbors, but it would seem to me that just as often it is by inconsiderate and dominating people to try to force others to live their lives according to the regulator’s ideas of what is good for them. A third reason, often behind onerous zoning laws, is blatant self-interest at the expense of those without the political power to resist. I would encourage those who value their freedom to make their own decisions about their life to push back, never accepting the false premise that they live by the permission of any other individual or group or government.”
-Brian Kraut, fighting Jacksonville FL for the right to construct a homebuilt aircraft on his own property. (www.jaxairplane.com)


Filed under: Project-archive — mgrusin at 3:45 pm on Monday, September 7, 2009

DANDE, the Drag and Atmospheric Neutral Density Explorer, was CoSGC’s entry in the Air Force Research Laboratory’s University Nanosat 5 (UN5) competition. DANDE went from a proposal in late 2006, to flight hardware and a fully-realized mission concept in 2009, and won first place at the competition’s conclusion, earning it a government-sponsored flight sometime in the next few years.

DANDE’s mission is to perform in-situ studies of the neutral thermosphere, a region of the tenuous upper atmosphere which is too high for aircraft to study, and too low for most spacecraft to enter. This region is highly variable, and coupled to both solar activity and lower weather patterns in ways which are not clearly understood. The winds, weather, and variability of this region have serious effects on spacecraft maneuvering and lifetimes, and is an important area of study.

DANDE will study this area using two unique instruments. The first is an accelerometer suite (ACC) which will be used to measure spacecraft acceleration and deceleration due to local variations in density and in-track winds. The accelerometer suite uses six radially-mounted commercial-grade accelerometers, and a unique data-processing scheme which takes advantage of the spacecraft’s spin, to measure nano-g accelerations using relatively inexpensive micro-g components.

The other on-board instrument is the Neutral Mass Spectrometer (NMS), a miniature instrument which can measure the atomic composition of the local neutral atmosphere. This instrument includes a unique “imaging” capability which can measure this composition across a 16-pixel fan, allowing the determination of not only the composition of the local atmosphere but also the presence of any cross-track winds. These two instruments will allow DANDE to produce an accurate profile of the composition and weather effects of the neutral thermosphere it will pass through on its brief 100-day mission, hopefully leading to improved atmospheric drag models in the future.

I served as lead systems engineer on the DANDE project.  This unique mission required a unique architecture.  To produce an accurate drag profile, the spacecraft needed to be as spherical as possible. This requirement created numerous design challenges, including conforming photovoltaic panels and flush-mounted antennas to the spherical structure.  Solutions were found to all of these issues, and on many occasions weaknesses were turned into strengths. The judges at the UN5 competition commended the DANDE team on their requirements management, well-integrated design, professional build quality, and strong science mission relevance, especially for a student project.

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