Project

Climate CubeSat Co-building Outreach Program (C3)

NASA

The Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative is driven by an effort to democratize the future of space exploration. As such, we are committed to the development of meaningful community engagement endeavors related to achieving an open and hackable "New Space Age."

 Beginning in Spring 2018, in an aim to fulfill NASA’s vision of 50 CubeSats from 50 States in 5 Yearswe launched our Climate CubeSat Co-building Outreach Program (C3), in which we mentor 20 Boston-area high school students through designing, building, testing, and launching a cubesat that makes climate science and earth-observation measurements. 

The program is themed around Climate Science and Remote Sensing; the payloads are designed and developed as part of a communal, participatory satellite constellation that takes numerous atmospheric (greenhouse gas) measurements. Student groups can either build CubeSats to support the citizen-science constellation or low-cost ground stations to support the active measurements as CubeSats fly over. A third means of involvement centers on the open data set to be released as measurements are taken, off… View full description

The Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative is driven by an effort to democratize the future of space exploration. As such, we are committed to the development of meaningful community engagement endeavors related to achieving an open and hackable "New Space Age."

 Beginning in Spring 2018, in an aim to fulfill NASA’s vision of 50 CubeSats from 50 States in 5 Yearswe launched our Climate CubeSat Co-building Outreach Program (C3), in which we mentor 20 Boston-area high school students through designing, building, testing, and launching a cubesat that makes climate science and earth-observation measurements. 

The program is themed around Climate Science and Remote Sensing; the payloads are designed and developed as part of a communal, participatory satellite constellation that takes numerous atmospheric (greenhouse gas) measurements. Student groups can either build CubeSats to support the citizen-science constellation or low-cost ground stations to support the active measurements as CubeSats fly over. A third means of involvement centers on the open data set to be released as measurements are taken, offering an inclusive and easily scalable means of participating in the program: become part of the data analysis community effort as this global data set is gathered and reviewed. 

We view this three-part citizen science program (build a CubeSat; build a ground station; analyze the open data) as a critical opportunity to engage a broader and younger population in climate science discussions and awareness of climate change.

Our local program (the beta test for expanding nationally and globally) currently supports 20 high school students, focusing on under-represented minorities and young women. The students are supported throughout the program with background knowledge curriculum sessions, an open journaling and learning exchange platform, technical mentorship for design and building tasks, part kits, testing and launch support, and training for post-flight data analysis. We are actively building out this program to scale nationally via high schools, public libraries, and maker spaces across the nation (and soon internationally!).

 The expanded program will include:

  • thoughtful and efficiently distributed curriculum development, 
  • extensive open-source build guidelines (e.g., instructables) and part lists,
  •  a unified platform for data storage and analysis, 
  • an online community via PubPub for sharing knowledge and curriculum,
  • and access to free or reduced-cost launch opportunities. 

As young students are empowered to build their own cubesats and collect and analyze their own data, they will both be participating in something larger than themselves and learning about the health and future of our planet.

C3 collaborators: 

MIT Media Lab Learning Initiative, & PLIX Library Network
MIT Lincoln Laboratory, 
MIT Beaverworks,
MIT AeroAstro STAR Lab, 
Clay Center Amateur Radio Club,
J.D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics & Science,