BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - UB's School of Engineering is abuzz with excitement. NASA has approved the launch of a project students are working on that will help keep track of space junk.
UB students are designing a satellite with two cameras and a lot of high-tech hardware packed into a metal box. The project is called GLADOS and is designed to track thousands of bits of space junk.
Prof. John Crassidis said, "Recently there was a piece of space junk that hit a Russian satellite - that we now have tracked - and realize it changed its orbit, and it has changed how it is spinning. So this stuff is already happening."
Crassidis says GLADOS started out as a project for the Air Force and evolved into something more far flung.
NASA is tracking as many as 20,000 space objects circling the Earth but scientists estimate debris from space junk numbers in the hundreds of thousands. That space junk could, one day, curtail the use of satellites within the atmosphere.
UB engineering senior Andrew Dianetti said, "It is a great opportunity, and really, more than that, it gives you the opportunity to learn something that you are not going to learn in the classroom, and gain some skills that I think you can use in the real world."
The GLADOS project has so far cost about $300,000 for the hardware with another $150,000 yet to go. Once NASA gives the word, the 40 students working on the project will have about 18 months to prepare for blast off.
Dianetti said they never dreamed NASA would go along with the GLADOS. He got the word early in the morning, last month.
"And I rolled over and grabbed my phone, and started checking my e-mails, and I think I thought I was dreaming," he recalled.
NASA has not given UB a definite date for blast off, but Crassidis, who once worked for NASA, predicts GLADOS could get its day in the sun sometime in the year 2015.
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