Mechanical engineering professor Andrew Gadsden leads McMaster collaboration with NASA


Affiliate professor Andrew Gadsden and his award-winning group constructed and programmed a robotic telescope mount instrument subsystem for NASA’s air-LUSI challenge to measure moonlight.

By the sunshine of the moon, we would see our personal planet extra clearly.

That’s the aim of NASA’s airborne Lunar Spectral Irradiance, or air-LUSI, challenge, which is sending a telescope into excessive altitude flight to measure mirrored moonlight.

That regular supply of sunshine serves as a calibration reference, serving to researchers enhance the accuracy and consistency of measurements amongst Earth-observing satellites.

Central to the measurement course of is ARTEMIS – the autonomous, robotic, telescope mount instrument subsystem designed, constructed and programmed by McMaster affiliate professor Andrew Gadsden and his group.

“The challenge itself is basically to construct a system to gather gentle from the moon at a really excessive altitude,” explains Gadsden, co-principal investigator on the air-LUSI challenge.

 ARTEMIS setup on again of pickup truck for out of doors testing at NIST facility in Gaithersburg, Maryland, June 2018.

His group was tasked with mounting a telescope to a secure platform on the wing pod of NASA’s ER-2 plane and creating an autonomous system to maintain it pointing on the moon because the airplane flies.

Armed with little greater than the airplane dimensions and the scale of the telescope, which was constructed by the U.S. Nationwide Institute of Requirements and Know-how (NIST), Gadsden and his group designed and machined ARTEMIS to suit into the wing pod.

 Air-LUSI telescope being calibrated by synthetic moon within the ER-2 hangar at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Analysis Heart, California. Credit score: NASA photograph/Ken Ulbrich.

“The info is utilized by the Earth-observing satellites which NASA makes use of primarily for his or her local weather change fashions, so it has a major affect in enhancing our data of our planet,” says Gadsden.Since 2019, the system has flown a number of profitable flights as a part of NASA’s satellite tv for pc calibration and validation efforts. Its most up-to-date knowledge assortment flight was final month. 

“As researchers get a greater understanding of what is truly occurring right here, they will develop extra correct fashions to foretell what is going to occur sooner or later.”

Andrew Gadsden

Funded by NASA, the air-LUSI challenge was launched on the College of Maryland, the place Gadsden beforehand labored. The collaboration additionally entails group members from NIST, NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The worldwide group was not too long ago awarded NASA’s 2021 Robert H. Goddard Award in Science for the event and demonstration of the instrument.

“It is fairly a prestigious award, so we had been fairly blissful to obtain it,” says Gadsden.

Recognition of the deserves of the challenge might assist land a brand new spherical of funding to permit the group to make system enhancements and proceed with knowledge assortment.

He notes that the challenge affords grasp’s college students an amazing coaching alternative in aerospace instrumentation and an opportunity to work with prestigious organizations like NASA and NIST.



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