The excitement of March Madness college basketball kicks off this week but some students at the University of Michigan are getting hyped for the development of a futuristic, space time capsule. To celebrate the school's 200th year, student members of the Michigan Bicentennial Archive want to launch a time capsule satellite into space. The idea is to fire a small satellite called a CubeSat into space that contains silicon data chips. Those chips, according to students, will be encoded with over 1,000 interviews from UM staff, students and alumni, and even test how synthetic DNA would fare floating around in space for the next 100 years. Engineering students say this is a chance to really stretch their imaginations and apply their knowledge to get the project off the ground. Thankfully, Michigan released a very detailed YouTube video explaining this amazing technology.
Michigan students began the time capsule space launch quest in 2015 as a way to honor the school's past, but also to use their engineering skills to think way outside the box. Aerospace Engineer student Hashima Koka leads the team of 40 students across about 20 majors under the Michigan Engineering Multidisciplinary Design Program. Koka says, "When I found out about this project, I thought it would be interesting to be able to apply what I'm learning. With the university celebrating its bicentennial, I thought it would be great to be part of something with this celebration."
The students are faced with some big challenges in the project, like how to track the satellite for a century and how to launch it into the right spot so it can remain intact in orbit for 100 years. The team hopes to launch two CubeSats, the first late this year will be a test launch of a smaller version of the real thing. Hopefully, the team can take a break from their work to catch their squad's big basketball game against Oklahoma State this Friday!