CubeSat Functionality and Microgravity Testing Platform: Aerodynamics

Giffin, Barbara
This project aims to develop a new process of providing a microgravity environment for CubeSat testing. This is a collaboration among many senior design groups. An aerobody will be dropped from 100,000 ft from a weather balloon with CubeSats, electrical equipment, and reaction wheels inside. This will provide about 20 seconds of microgravity, in a cheaper, more economically feasible way. My team's purpose is to lower drag coefficients on the aerobody in order to improve microgravity, resulting in a higher quality product. In addition, other aerodynamic properties of the aerobody such as location of the center of pressure, restoring moments, and boundary layer effects have been determined in order to assist other teams. In order to determine the optimal aerobody design, the drag on the original design has been compared to drag on various aerobody designs. Testing was performed using the mezzanine wind tunnel, and includes experimentally quantifying drag and observing boundary layer effects through smoke trail testing, as well as analytically determining the center of pressure and restoring moments. Restoring moments of the aerobody will greatly impact the Controls team's design, including how many wheels need to be implemented and the motor size needed. Through these various tests and calculations, improvements will be made to the aerobody design in order to lower drag coefficients on the body, thereby improving the overall quality of the microgravity and the product.
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