​SERC explores various new concepts in small and nanosatellite build and design.  Advanced payload integration and deployment from nanosatellites in LEO, digital design tool to autocode generation of onboard software, use of nanosats as parasitic ride-alongs with larger spacecraft, and advanced rendezvous and proximity operations techniques are some of the areas of research.

Nanosat Projects

CAERUS:  USC's first satellite was a 1U Cubesat that became part of a 3U integrated onto the Northrop Grumman Mayflower Mission, launched in 2010.  Caerus was the primary communication subsystem that supported the 3U and featured a new quad monopole deployable antenna designed and developed by the SERC team.


AENEAS:  USC's second flight, Aeneas, modified a 3U (30x10x10cm) National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)-specified Colony I Cubesat bus to address a research thrust of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  Aeneas was launched in June 2012 and is still operational today. Aeneas primary payload demonstrated tracking cargo containers over the open ocean with a 1-watt WiFi-like transceiver. This was in support of a DHS effort for open ocean cargo tracking, designed by the primary payload provider iControl Inc.  SERC advancements on the Cubeat included a custom-built deployable 0.5m mesh antenna, and an increase of the attitude control and power generation capabilities of the Colony I bus over the original specifications.

Aeneas telemetry information is located here:  Aeneas_Telemetry

Video Simulation of Aeneas

ENDOR:  This project was a full CDR design of a Cubesat with a deployable 20cm inflatable sphere.  The goal was to understand the interaction between a 2-body problem in LEO, and the extent of influence that a sphere that is larger than the original Cubesat body would have on its attitude control, stability, thermal and RF shading, and life on orbit.  This project was in conjunction with students from Huntington Beach High School, Santa Monica College and Dept of Astronautical Engineering at USC.

DODONA:  The third and current nanosatellite project for SERC and USC will fly various payloads and demonstrate various control and communications techniques.  A new B-Dot control algorithm will be demonstrated for minimum power control using torque rods, a rotating multi-packetized beacon transmission source will prove backup to the primary communications system, and data store and forward software will be demonstrated for non-consistent ground contacts.  The Cubesat bus is a MISC-2, a sister of the Aeneas design and will use the same flower petal configuration for primary solar array power. Some upgrades to this bus versus Aeneas include:

- Upgraded multi-packet beacon signals that rotate through constantly all data parameters during powered portion of orbit.

- New payload electronics card (PEC) that has new power convertors and switches for custom control of the payload bay.

- New transmitter with higher downlink performance.

- Upgraded software for brownout and low power modes.

- New thermal blanket on sun face of satellite for thermal balance of electronic boards.

Delivery of the bus expected March 2019 for further integration and testing, and projected launch is mid-late 2019.  Flight development team photo from left to right, In clean room are Rahul Rughani, Justin Du Plessis, Sophia Bernstein and Denis Healy, Kneeling outside is Lizvette Villafana, Gedi Minster, Piyush Patil, David Barnhart, and standing are Jeremy Allam, Michal Moruzzi, Rebecca Rogers, Kyle Clarke and Sri Narayanan.


Photo-1: Flight development team,  Photo-2: Satellite on vertical stand with two arrays deployed, Photo-3: Rahul, Rebecca, Kyle and Gedi


Photo 4: Becca/Sophia tying the deployment cables, Photo 5: Piyush and Sri debugging electronics, Photo 6:  Lizvette and Kyle testing the Reaction Wheels, Photo 7: Justin testing the magnetometer, and Photo 8: Michael debugging the telemetry stream code.