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"Innovation, the size of a loaf of bread"

Designed, built, and operated by ASU students

Welcome to ASU's newest innitiative into space

Project Phoenix

In what has developed to become a historically-defining project for both the university and the scientific community, a team of thirty-five interdisciplinary undergraduate students from Arizona State University are working to fully design, develop, and lead a mission which will issue in a wider knowledge of environmental awareness and urban development to ultimately improve communities for the betterment of the whole. While Phoenix is happily supported by the ASU NASA Space Grant Organization, the efforts of the undergraduate team are largely comprised of outside volunteer time alone, and consist of the dedication put forth in addition to a focus in academics, university research, and employment. 

Through interdisciplinary efforts which span disciplines in science, journalism, design, and engineering, the student team of the mission, entitled Phoenix, aims to utilize the ever-growing application of CubeSat technology to study thermal images of cities within the United States. Through these efforts, the team aims to define how urban sprawl, or the relationships between population density and city area, impacts the Urban Heat Island (UHI) Effect to lend to an increase in the surface temperature of cities.

While our efforts are no small feat, the Phoenix team is comprised of a dedicated collection of individuals who are all striving diligently toward successfully completing Phoenix's four core mission objectives:

  1. Provide a platform for undergraduate students at ASU to further their education in designing, developing, and implementing a comprehensive mission outline in relation to the space industry
  2. Understand the properties that create and enhance Urban Heat Islands and how these are a harm to the community
  3. Foster community development toward a more sustainable urban environment for future generations
  4. Educate K-12 students on the significant of UHIs, opportunities in STEM fields, and innovations within the space industry

Studying Urban Heat Islands

The Phoenix project will utilize a 3U CubeSat architecture along with the incorporation of FLIR’s Tau2 640 IR camera to promote the study of the UHI Effect in LEO. Over the course of an 18 month mission development and one year mission life span, the Phoenix project ultimately marries the disciplines of science and engineering in a way that allows students at the undergraduate level to create a lasting impact on both their community and others throughout the US while simultaneously gaining an extensive background in their fields of study.

Increasing our awareness and understanding of UHIs becomes especially essential as we examine the detriments which these pose on the health of the environment and the individual. Through raising the temperature of the environment, UHIs serve to impair the quality of air and water, increase the amount of heat exhaustion seen among the public, and consequently raise the amount spent on energy bills each year as the earth’s climate continues to climb, making our impact all the more significant with each passing year.

As a 2015 study by Forbes Magazine presented Phoenix as being the 11th fastest most growing city in the US, the Phoenix team therefore plans to encourage and promote a mass effort of mitigation practices across the state of Arizona throughout the mission lifetime in order to create an archetype for mitigating UHIs which other cities can eventually follow.

The End Ideals

In addition to encouraging a healthy development of the environment, the Phoenix mission carries with it a desire to foster public engagement and promote the education of the next generation of scientists and innovators. Through outreach efforts in public schools and city libraries, ASU events, and the Arizona Science Center, the student team will directly involve the public in the mission as a way to promote careers in STEM education and within the space industry as well as begin to help build a more sustainable urban structure for the future.

In addition, the Phoenix team sees the mission as a way to promote an understanding of the level of accessibility to space as well as foster a deeper understanding of the applications and benefits which research within the space industry can have on impacting the everyday environment of the average individual. The aim in this regard is to expand the mindset that space is something that has become more readily accessible, deferring the average mentality from the idea that space is something which is far away and seemingly impossible to comprehend. 
In achieving our goals, we hope to ultimately demonstrate to the public the significant level of opportunity that is available to students. It is the idea that it only takes drive, guidance, support, and one single idea in order to make a difference in the lives of others–no matter what this idea may be.