Just in time for moon landing anniversary, Morehead satellite goes on display

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Prof. Grupe holds the Lunar IceCube

MOREHEAD, Ky. (WTVQ)- Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, the Aviation Museum of Kentucky in Lexington has a new exhibit on display, highlighting Morehead State University’s space system engineering programs.

Featured in the exhibit is a model of the Lunar IceCube satellite, designed, built, and tested by MSU students.

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The IceCube satellite will launch in October 2020 as part of NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (Next STEP). It will collect data about water, ice or other resources on the moon.

It is one of 13 CubeSats scheduled to launch in October. Morehead State says CubeSats are no bigger than a loaf of bread.

They will launch on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), which MSU says is the largest, most powerful rocket ever built.

According to Morehead, that same mission will carry the Orion capsule, which NASA hopes will take humans back to the moon for the first time since the Appollo 17 mission in 1972.

Dr. Dirk Grupe, MSU assistant professor of astrophysics and space systems engineering says if Lunar IceCube can find water on the moon, it could help produce rocket fuel there.

“We can use the moon as a gas station so to speak,” he said. “The moon will be a stepping stool to get to Mars eventually,” Grupe said.

Students’ work isn’t over. Grupe says students will help decode the data it sends back.

“Our students will be downloading the data and sending commands for all the 13 Cubesat missions that will go on the SLS in 2020,” Grupe said.

“We are currently in the process of becoming a part of NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN). NASA uses this network for all interplanetary missions, so like New Horizon that went to Pluto in 2015 and even the Voyager missions from the 1970s. We have a 21-meter space tracking antenna here at MSU, which easily can reach the moon to transfer commands and receive the data from the missions. We have a lot of experience being the ground stations for several missions. We have a number of students that get trained in becoming a ground station operator.”

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Veronica Jean Seltzer joins ABC 36 as Anchor/Reporter. On most weekdays, you will see her reporting the news. VJ hails from a small horse farm outside New York City and most recently comes from South Bend, Indiana where she reported for the CBS and Fox affiliates. VJ holds a Master of Science in Journalism degree from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts University. Her passion for journalism runs deep. It began as she studied graffiti as an ancient form of communication in Athens, Greece. While a student journalist in Morocco, she learned her most important journalistic lesson: good stories are about people. VJ loves life in and around Lexington. She feels most at home among horses and a diverse community of fascinating people. She enjoys reporting during the week and on the weekend she strives to bring her neighbors the news that matters most to them. VJ enjoys going to neighborhood events, exploring, horseback riding, skiing, sailing, and good movies. Look for her out and about in the community! VJ invites you to reach out to her with story ideas or just to say hello! Find her on Facebook at Veronica Jean Seltzer ABC 36, tweet her @VJS_ABC36, or email her at VSeltzer@wtvq.com. She looks forward to hearing from you!