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Editorial: UNM reaches into space with satellite technology

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The University of New Mexico is blazing a new trail into space, one that could position the university as a leading space research institution.

This summer, the university’s Configurable Space Microsystems Innovations & Applications Center will send a 4-inch cube beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Called Trailblazer, the satellite will conduct new research while gathering radiation levels to be analyzed by mechanical and electrical engineering students. New technologies Trailblazer will employ include plug-and-play architecture, meaning all of its parts are integrated with and controlled by its central computer system, and having its electronic parts printed from a 3-D printer.

The satellite was designed and built with the help of about 25 UNM students under the guidance of chief research engineer Brian Zufelt. The 3-D parts for Trailblazer were created by the University of Texas at El Paso.

The project was started in 2011, and a $40,000 Air Force Research Laboratory grant paid for the parts. NASA will cover the costs of launching the tiny satellite from one of its rockets.

If the mission is successful, it could attract more funding and federal grants for the state’s flagship university and earn it a place in the space research galaxy.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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