The students of Ecole Lacombe Composite High School’s United Robotics of Lacombe club have been aiding the University of Alberta with an exciting project. Together they have been working to complete a space satellite which will be able to monitor the province for forest fires.
“We're working with the University of Alberta. They came up with the idea first and they started a club that's trying to put the ideas in motion. They have actually put a satellite called Exalta 1 into Earth’s orbit. Now, we're helping them out with the construction of Exalta 2, which will do the same thing,” said Grade 11 Student Levi Sulzle.
The students are working to develop a 3D replica of the satellite based on the information the University of Alberta provides.
“Right now, they're working on a 90 degrees lens that connects to the camera. This satellite’s perspective is only 30 centimeters by 10 centimeters by 10 centimeters. It's extremely small. That's three units in space. This makes it a lot easier to build constellations, and it's really sustainable,” said Sulzle.
The camera uses infrared to detect fires from space.
“We're going to be working on detecting a live fire with this with this camera. It will detect the infrared data that will coming off the fire and then send it to your control room. Then, we can use that data and analyze this for future use,” explained Sulzle.
Levi never expected to be working on something like this during his time in high school.
“It's definitely really cool to see you that a high school student can do something as big as a satellite in space,” added Sulzle.
If the program continues to be offered at the school, the students may have a chance at attending the satellite launch day in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The Exalta 2 was meant to launch in January of 2022 but because of the pandemic they are a little behind schedule and will be launching in September of 2022. Currently they are conducting vibration and crewing tests to see if the satellite can withstand the extreme temperatures of space.
The students involved in United Robotics of Lacombe are very thankful for the mentors and sponsors who have helped them along the way.