ME Plays Integral Role in Space Time Capsule Creation, CubeSat

Actual time capsule next to satellite where it will be launched
Actual time capsule next to satellite where it will be launched

University of Michigan (U-M) Mechanical Engineering (ME) graduate student Eishaan Gakhar has been leading the U-M Multidisciplinary Design Project (MDP) team in the development of CubeSat, a space time capsule. CubeSat was created to provide Michigan students, faculty, staff, and alumni 100 years in the future a diverse perspective of the world in 2017 through stories told by the Michigan community.

3D printed replica of the time capsule
3D printed replica of the time capsule

“The goal of the project was to leave a lasting legacy of the University of Michigan,” says Gakhar. “[CubeSat] allowed me to be part of history in the making; through this project, I was able to take part in the bicentennial celebrations at the University and make history by being part of the team that would send the first ever time capsule into space."

CubeSat is part of the Demonstration of Systems for Michigan Bicentennial Archive (DSM-BARC) which will be launched into geosynchronous orbit later this year. It will weigh a maximum of 2 kg with 2 mm thick walls to shield it from radiation as it passes the Van Allen Belts in orbit. High-resolution photos of campus and student life, as well as 1000 interviews collected from U-M students, faculty, staff and alumni, will be etched onto silicon wafers.

“We decided to etch the interviews on a silicon wafer so the data could be stored in space for 100 years without any damage...any electronically stored data would not survive the space radiation environment for 100 years,” says MDP team member and CLASP alum Hashmita Koka.

In addition, CubeSat will carry synthetic DNA samples as an experiment to determine its viability as a long-term storage method for information.

The team is looking forward to launching the mission in late 2018.