The fall semester Brown Bag Seminar Series features graduate students providing presentations on their current research and recent internships. This series continues on Wednesday, October 21st, featuring grad student Chris Follette presenting “Open Source Balloon Tracking and the Development of a Robotic Rover to Assist Human Planetary Exploration”.
This series of presentations will be held in the Space Studies Library at noon. Lunch will be served. All funded grad students are expected to attend.
About the topic: During the summer of 2015 I had the opportunity to work on the high altitude ballooning program with Dr. Fevig and Caitlin Nolby of UND Space Studies. Throughout the course of the summer we worked on various projects, but my primary focus was developing a new balloon tracking suite consisting of open-source software and much less expensive hardware. Historically, tracking the balloons while in flight required expensive amateur radios capable of decoding packet radio, specifically APRS, and memory intensive tracking software. The new method I created this summer uses any amateur radio with a speaker output and any laptop with a USB port. Using this new tracking method anyone can join in the excitement of tracking high altitude balloons for a fraction of the cost.
I will also discuss my thesis project; research and development of a planetary robotic rover that will improve communications and safety of astronauts while exploring the moon or Mars. This rover, named MACHO (MArs Compliment to Humanity rOver) will enable long distance communication using audio and video, specifically an amateur radio repeater and an amateur video transmitter. Also, the rover will be robust enough to carry supplies and/or samples for the astronauts, lessening their burden while in their EVA suits.
About the presenter: Chris Follette is a second year Space Studies graduate student. He is a Crookston, Minnesota native and received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from North Dakota State University. His experience with the Society of Automotive Engineers Mini Baja competition during his time at NDSU has proved invaluable while designing MACHO. During the summer of 2014 he was an intern with Honeybee Robotics in Pasadena, CA. While at Honeybee, Chris worked with a highly skilled team of engineers in a face paced, intense environment. During this time he worked on many prototypes that would be tested at NASA or used in the private sector. Back at UND, Chris is a graduate research assistant for Dr. de Leon and Dr. Fevig.
For information on the Brown Bag Seminar Series, please contact Space Studies faculty member Dr. Vadim Rygalov.