Students from Universidad del Valle de Mexico Campus Saltillo launched the "Phoenix I" satellite into space to measure the Earth's electromagnetic field and collect weather data to support an analysis of global warming and pollution. The information will be shared with the Institute of Geophysics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
The Phoenix I satellite is a meteorological balloon developed by Mechatronics Engineering students from UVM Campus Saltillo, Edgar Serrano, Edgar Herrera, Luis Romero, José Alfredo Rodríguez and their professor Arturo Guzman, coordinator of Engineering at Campus Saltillo. They were supported by Luis Arellano, a member of the Astronomical Society of Saltillo.
Phoenix I reached an altitude of 4,500 meters and the balloon reached an internal temperature of 40 degrees Celsius. It was in flight for 53 minutes until it exploded and fell. It is estimated that Phoenix I fell near the Monterrey-Saltillo highway between Santa Catarina and Cadereita.
"This achievement is very important for the Engineering program at Campus UVM Saltillo. What we wanted to demonstrate to our students was that in Mexico you can do things, Mexico has enough technology to develop a satellite. We can technologically create something useful for UNAM’s Institute of Geophysics.”
"We also wanted to get the eyes of the Mexican Space Agency on the region of Saltillo and UVM. Our students have confirmed that they have talent to develop aerospace technology," said Arturo Guzman, the engineering coordinator at Campus Saltillo.
This student achievement reached such magnitude that Eduardo Guizar, the engineer who built the robot wheels for the "Curiosity" that is still in operation on Mars and a contributor to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), widely praised those who participated in the launch of the Phoenix I.
"On the launch day, Eduardo Guizar from NASA congratulated us for the great effort we undertook and recognized what it means to have launched a satellite with those characteristics. We made several recommendations and observations. Based on these, I can say that we have the materials for the Phoenix II," said the Campus Saltillo teacher.
Phoenix I is made of latex, has a diameter of 20 and a height of 25 centimeters, a weight of 782 grams and consisted of a magnetometer, which was responsible for providing the data for the Institute of Geophysics at UNAM. In addition to the magnetometer, the satellite had an accelerometer and a gyroscope. The accelerometer measures the Earth's gravitational force on each of its axes in the Cartesian plane, ie, in X, Y and Z. The gyroscope measures the angular velocities, as in each of the axes X, Y, Z.
The team used transmitters which can work at distances of up to 30 kilometers. They also needed an antenna on the ground to deal with the height. Luis Arellano was in charge of the logistics for the satellite launch.
The Universidad del Valle de Mexico is the fourth institution of higher education to launch a satellite into space. "Maybe the only difference, in relation to the other universities is that we are the first university in the region, and most importantly, we have expert advice, so to speak, from NASA," concluded Guzman.
This article has been translated into English to be shared on the Laureate International Universities website.