CubeSat Centrifuge Terrarium

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Human civilization faces several potential man-made and natural catastrophes that threaten to wipe out Earth’s rich biodiversity. The Svalbard Seed Vault in Norway was constructed to store plant seeds vital for world’s food supply. It, however, faces the dangers of flooding from rising sea levels/melting of the North Pole due to accelerated climate change. A proposed future alternative would be to store Earth’s rich biodiversity in the form of DNA, eggs, sperm, and specialized cells under cryogenic conditions in the Moon’s lava tubes. However, to practically unfreeze and prepare the biodiversity for reintroduction to Earth will likely require a series of space-based terrariums located between Earth and the Moon. The proposed project is to conceptualize, design and build a prototype space-based terrarium inside a 3U Centrifuge CubeSat with a total mass of 4 kg and a total volume of 3000 cm3. It is to operate in Low Earth Orbit for 1-2 years. A team of students will perform systems design, design of mechanical, electrical, thermal, GNC (Guidance Navigation, Control), and science-payload design. The prototype end-product is a working prototype with stand-in COTS components for the spacecraft hardware. The proposed prototype-space-based terrarium is intended to test technologies and operational capability in preparation for the design of a larger, more capable terrarium intended to be placed in the Earth-Moon-Sun L2 Lagrange point. This L2 terrarium is meant to be self-sustaining for 30-50 years.

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