A Space-Based Solution to Improve Roadway Safety and Efficiency in Virginia: Real-Time Winter Weather Data for Navigation; The Impact of Satellite Data Retrieval on the Space Debris Crisis

Cummings, Mici, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Rogers, Hannah, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Goyne, Chris, EN-Mech/Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia

This thesis portfolio explores issues that relate to satellite development. The technical portion of this paper is about developing a new solution to obtain weather data in order to decrease roadway disasters. By researching the different areas of satellite development, the team was able to plan for a new satellite that can better detect climate conditions. Several functional teams were constructed in order to research these elements. Through the collaboration between the program management; communications; software and avionics; power, thermal, and environment; attitude determination and control system and orbits (ADACS); structures and integration; and instruments teams, this project came together to create a viable solution for the customer, The Mitre Corporation (MITRE).

The STS paper considers the implications of satellite data retrieval through discussing the space debris crisis and methods of solving it. Since there are hundreds of thousands of satellite and spacecraft debris pieces in Earth’s orbit, it is becoming increasingly imperative that a solution be found to ameliorate this problem. Several solutions are considered, namely recycling satellites in-orbit and utilizing reusable spacecraft. Because this orbital debris issue has developed so drastically over the past decades since space exploration and satellite development began, the recyclable spacecraft concept could serve as a deterrent for future debris accumulation.

Weather conditions strongly affect the safety of the roadway system, particularly snow and rain. Since drivers do not always take precautions when it comes to road conditions, there is a higher chance of accidents during inclement or even slightly less ideal weather. Considering the importance of satellites toward the purpose of roadway safety, determining the effect the launch of satellites into space has on the future of space endeavors is essential. Since weather data attainment is useful for society to function, it is important to contemplate the long-term implications of utilizing ephemeral products. Researching this topic further to discover initiatives being taken to ameliorate disastrous prospects could prove ground-breaking.

This project brings attention to an issue many people do not consider: space debris. While many humans may fantasize about future space exploration initiatives and possible life outside of Earth, most do not think about the social impact of this development. Space exploration is, of course, important for humankind’s development. Therefore, in order to maintain and even increase the current space travel and research projects, the orbital debris crisis must be handled. The space debris conglomeration surrounding Earth impacts spacecraft launches, since crashes can happen if mission control is not especially careful. Therefore, there are many factors to consider when launching a spacecraft, certainly if humans are aboard the craft. By continuing the conversation of space advancement and debris decrement, future innovations can be developed to support the future safety of space travel.

The technical and STS portions of this paper work together to view satellite use from two angles. The technical portion involves building a satellite to prevent roadway disasters, while the STS portion discusses how an influx of satellite and spacecraft systems could be detrimental for future civilization. Researching and developing these topics simultaneously invokes the question: when are satellites necessary? When do the benefits of putting a satellite into orbit outweigh the rewards of keeping Earth’s orbit free of debris?

BS (Bachelor of Science)
space debris, satellite data, technological fix, wicked problem framing

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering
Technical Advisor: Christopher Goyne
STS Advisor: Hannah Rogers
Technical Team Members: Arianna Asquini, Isaac Burkhalter, Xavier Castillo-Vieria, Andrew Curtin, Andrianna Daniels, Ian Davis, Luke Dennis, Cooper Dzema, Kyle Ebanks, Shane Eilers, Graham Fitzgerald, Kevin Fletcher, Rikia Freeman, Raeann Giannattasio, Brandon Ghany, Jalen Granville, Alex Griffin, Allen Lang, Dorothea LeBeau, Dominic Pinnisi, Colin Purcell, Bailey Roe, Khamal-Karim Saunders, Anisha Sharma, Jimmy Smith, Pranav Sridhar, Elias Topp, Nana-Ayana Tyree, Anish Vegesna, Ethan Vicario, Avery Walker, Ian Wnorowski, Victor Yang

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