With the help of NASA, a team of Cal Poly Pomona students is about to launch a miniature satellite designed to monitor and identify wildfires from miles away.
Bronco Ember’s small satellite can automatically detect, monitor and log coordinates and send those to fire agencies.
The University’s Bronco Space Club is one of three teams and is the only postgraduate program to earn $ 500,000 in the first NASA Tech Challenge.
Using an infrared camera, the students developed a special satellite CubeSat, a satellite that made up about half a loaf of bread and trained artificial intelligence to detect if something was burning from a distance.
It includes a 3-pound satellite camera and other devices that fit into a small container the size of a “thin shoe box”, according to a report by Kalo Poly Pomona News.
Following this week’s weather delay, Bronco Ember is scheduled to launch an eight-hour balloon in Sequoia Waterfall, South Dakota, on July 4 for an eight-hour high-altitude balloon. NASA is flying team members early next week.
The team announced that the team would launch a small fire after the plane was launched, sending small fires to any pending fire.
Christian Rodriguez, a 25-year-old graduate of Cal Poly Pomona, said the project is a long-term night-long month, exploring regular course work and winning logistics routes.
“This was truly an incredible learning experience for myself, for everyone,” Rodriguez, the project’s chief investigator, said by telephone this week. “They (NASA) believe in us, we believe in ourselves and now we want to fly next week.”
It all started last summer to address the realities of the student group where they live – with NASA advocating a wildfire throughout Southern California.
“We ask ourselves, ‘What should we do?’ “We’re in southern California and there are a lot of wildfires, so maybe we need to build a home fire extinguisher,” Rodriguez said in a conversation with team members. “That’s when the light bulb went on.”
After winning the competition and winning the first $ 200,000 in October, the team had just 10 months left to show and finish the NASA satellite.
Rodriguez, who lives in Northern California, moved to Pomona to work with other teammates. Rodriguez was 70% in attendance at this time, so some students are still working from home, making it difficult to explore everyone’s program.
During the Bronco Ember test, the team set fire to a controlled campus on a hill in the Diamond Bar. There the team saw a flash of light from their camera, which looked like a fire from a distance.
“After that, we knew how unique this project would be and what it all meant to come together,” said 21-year-old senior executive Zachary Guinness.
“Everyone knows the person who was directly affected by the fire, so the team worked together to give students a chance to touch their community,” he said.
For Rodriguez, he hopes the project’s small satellite technology will help inspire other projects and create more real-world solutions, such as wildfires.
“We hope it will be the beginning of something big,” Rodriguez said. “Heaven is really a limit.”
The members of the Bronco Ember team, including Rodriguez and Gains, are:
- The control team died Julian García (leader), Enrique Navas and Michael Kuch
- Techniques Scott Scott Johnson (Leader), Chess Peltier (Co-Leader), Jonathan Camillery, Nick Schechuk, Federico Perez and Juan Carlos Masias
- Electronics Tyler Borman (Lead) and Derek Night
- Software Dead Max Wilder Smith (Lead), Tang Nguyen (co-leader) and Clayton Clark
- Systems Free Katie Ruiz (Leader), Ethan Lo, Joshua Sepeda, Tyler Kovax and Granville Goza
- Integration and experimentation with Jacqueline Lamas (leader) and Matthew McGuugal