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  • Beneath the ice | Scientific American
    Wednesday, November 13, 2019
    To predict how much climate change will raise sea level, researchers are studying ice shelves, where vast expanses of ice meet the ocean. Eric Steig, professor of Earth and space sciences at the UW, is quoted. Read More
  • PNSN records SounderFC Soccer Shakes
    Tuesday, November 12, 2019
    Besides a blog post on the web site several news media picked up our efforts to record the shaking due to SounderFC fans at the MLS Cup finals on Nov. 10, 2019 in Seattle Read More
  • Experts agree more tools are needed to monitor local volcanoes | Skagit Valley Herald
    Tuesday, November 12, 2019
    Mount Baker, in plain sight as a white-capped dome on days when the sky is clear, and Glacier Peak, a somewhat camouflaged mountain in a sea of jagged ridges, are volcanoes that have and could again reshape the Skagit River valley. Steve Malone, professor emeritus of Earth and space sciences at the UW, is quoted. Read More
  • Seismologists record 'soccer shake' during Sounders' MLS championship game | KING 5
    Tuesday, November 12, 2019
    The MLS championship game at Century Link Field gave a special opportunity for researchers from the University of Washington-based Pacific Northwest Seismic Network to see if the Sounders fans could light up a seismograph. Spoiler: They did. Elizabeth Urabn, Steve Malone and Mickey Cassar from the PNSN are quoted. Read More
  • Latest science shows how the 'biggest one' will unfold in the Northwest | KING 5
    Friday, November 8, 2019
    We often think of earthquakes originating from one single spot, spreading out like a bulls-eye. But the Cascadia subduction zone would be more like ripping a sheet. Erin Wirth, a postdoctoral researcher in Earth and space sciences at the UW, is quoted. Read More
  • Cargo spaceship lifts off with satellite made by students in Seattle | GeekWire
    Monday, November 4, 2019
    Northrop Grumman launched a robotic Cygnus cargo capsule to the International Space Station on Saturday, marking one giant leap for a small satellite built by students at the University of Washington and Seattle's Raisbeck Aviation High School. Paige Northway, a graduate student in Earth and space sciences at the UW, is quoted. Read More
  • 'HuskySat-1' docks with International Space Station | KIRO 7
    Monday, November 4, 2019
    Over the weekend the first Washington student-built satellite launched into space, destined for the International Space Station. Read More
  • Washington students to make satellite history with HuskySat-1 | KOMO 4
    Friday, November 1, 2019
    Students are often told words of encouragement, such as "the sky is the limit." These University of Washington students opted to shoot for the stars instead. Read More
  • Phenomenally powerful superbolts follow unusual patterns | Geographical Magazine
    Thursday, October 31, 2019
    An analysis of nine year's worth of lightning data, covering two billion strikes has led to some unusual discoveries about the phenomenally powerful "superbolt." Robert Holzworth, professor of Earth and space sciences at the UW, is quoted. Read More
  • Washington's first student-built satellite preparing for launch
    Thursday, October 31, 2019
    people in lab stand around rectangular box

    Team members Paige Northway, Anika Hidayat, John Correy and Eli Reed (back row, left to right) watch in June as Henry Martin of Nanoracks does a “fit test” to ensure that the satellite fits inside the silver box. The digital clock on the wall counts down the days, minutes and seconds until launch.Dennis Wise/University of Washington


    A University of Washington satellite smaller than a loaf of bread will, if all goes well, launch this weekend on its way to low-Earth orbit. It will be the first student-built satellite from Washington state to go into space.

    HuskySat-1 is one of seven student-built satellites from around the country scheduled to launch at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time Saturday, Nov. 2, from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Virginia coast.

    tall silver rectangle inside glass box that reads "flight hardware"

    HuskySat-1 sits under protection in the UW satellite lab in June, as it prepared to leave on its journey to Virginia and then to low-Earth orbit.Dennis Wise/University of Washington

    “It will be exciting once it’s in orbit,”said Paige Northway, a UW doctoral student in Earth and Space Sciences who has been involved since the project’s inception. “To me, the completion will be when we can get data from the satellite and send instructions back.”

    HuskySat-1’s last moments on Earth will be broadcast live on NASA TV. The satellites are hitching a ride on the Cygnus cargo spacecraft, whose first stop will be the International Space Station to resupply astronauts and swap out materials. In early 2020 the spacecraft will leave the station and fly up to an altitude of about 310 miles (500 kilometers), where a NASA engineer will eject the student-build satellites.

    purple wings on device marked "W"

    An earlier model of the satellite, shown here in the lab, had solar panels on wings that unfold. The final model has solar panels attached on three sides to provide electrical power.Dennis Wise/University of Washington

    The UW creation is a type of CubeSat, a small satellite that measures exactly 10 centimeters (about 3 inches) along each side. HuskySat-1 is a “three-unit” system, meaning it’s the shape of a stack of three CubeSat-sized blocks. These miniature satellites were first created as a way for engineering students to test software with smaller, cheaper devices they could build from start to finish in a few years. But the devices are growing in popularity, with Planet and other companies now using nanosatellites for commercial ventures.

    NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative helps students and nonprofit groups launch these instrument systems into space. The Washington State University satellite, CougSat-1, is scheduled to launch in October 2020.

    The UW satellite weighs just under 7 pounds (3.14 kilograms) and took five years to design and build. Undergraduate and graduate students from aeronautics and astronautics, mechanical engineering, computer engineering, Earth and space sciences, physics and other departments spent hundreds of hours building the system in the Husky Satellite Lab.

    Its trip into low-Earth orbit is organized by Nanoracks, a Texas company that, like Spaceflight Industries of Seattle and other businesses, coordinates smaller groups to provide access to launch vehicles.

    After extensive testing and final checkouts this summer, Northway hand-delivered the satellite in September to the Nanoracks facility in Houston, where it was placed into the box that will carry it to space.

    “These students have gained firsthand experience on what is required to build and launch a satellite, and aerospace companies have already snapped up many of them,” said Robert Winglee, a professor of Earth and space sciences and the team’s faculty adviser as director of the UW Advanced Propulsion Lab. “Meanwhile, the UW is making its first steps to a continuing hardware presence in space. What more could you wish for?”

    Three antennas installed on the roof of Johnson Hall will allow students to get information like position and altitude and send instructions to the satellite as it passes overhead. A camera built in collaboration with students at Raisbeck Aviation High School in Tukwila, Washington, will send back grainy, black-and-white photos of Earth. Students will also be able to control the satellite’s camera and thruster remotely.

    “A lot of information is taught in classes, but only in a hands-on environment can you experience things like design, integration of subsystems, project management and documentation,” said team member Anika Hidayat, a senior in mechanical engineering.

    HuskySat-1 will orbit at an angle of 51.6 degrees, traveling between 51.6 degrees north and south, at an altitude of 310 miles (500 kilometers) and at more than 4 miles (7 kilometers) per second. Once the students locate their satellite they will be able to predict its travel path.

    map of globe with wavy white lines

    White lines show the satellite’s projected travel path, orbiting at an angle of 51.6 degrees from the equator. The antennas at the UW will be able to communicate with HuskySat-1 when it flies inside the red circle.Paige Northway/University of Washington

    Some of the student-built parts will still be in test mode. A custom-built thruster uses sparks to vaporize small amounts of solid sulfur as a propellant. The thruster will fire about 100 times as the satellite passes over Seattle, only enough thrust to provide a slight nudge. A high-bandwidth communications system built by former graduate student Paul Sturmer, now at Blue Origin, transmits at 24 Gigahertz, allowing the satellite to quickly send reams of data. That system will send down a test packet from space.

    “Usually people buy most of the satellite and build one part of it. We built all the parts,” Northway said. “It was a pretty serious undertaking.”

    Space odyssey: UW, WSU students building tiny, Kleenex-size satellites” Seattle Times - May 2017

    Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT) page

    HuskySat-1 in the international nanosats database

    The UW group will control HuskySat-1 for three months. In the spring it will transfer ownership and responsibility to AMSAT, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, which provided the main communication system. The satellite will begin to lose altitude in about three years and will burn up as it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere. (NASA requires that all such objects deorbit within 25 years.)

    HuskySat-1 grew out of a special topics course in the UW Department of Earth & Space Sciences. In 2016 members formed a registered student organization, the Husky Satellite Lab at UW.

    “Being involved with this has taught me a lot,” said current team captain John Correy, a UW graduate student in aeronautics and astronautics. “But beyond that, it’s just validation that I’m in the right industry.”

    As the Husky Satellite Lab wraps up this half-decade-long effort it plans to next tackle a NanoLab project-- a partly prebuilt system that can be adapted to conduct experiments in microgravity -- for travel aboard a Blue Origin vehicle. Students plan to complete that project by spring of 2020.

    HuskySat-1 was supported by a NASA Undergraduate Student Instrument Project award, which funded the satellite’s development and launch with a private space contractor. The team also was supported by NASA, the Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium, the UW and several companies that provided equipment for the satellite and antenna.

    For more information, contact Northway at or Winglee at Learn more at

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