GLADOS, our oldest satellite, is a 6U cubesat that will be launched to low earth orbit to gather light data on space debris in geostationary orbit. This light data can be used to classify space debris, as well as to characterize the size, shape, and material properties of space debris. Military and commercial industries rely on space assets such as GPS and communication satellites for their day-to- day operations. However,the exponential increase in space debris over the years poses a risk to these assets. Space debris colliding with satellites has already proven catastrophic: in 2013 a Russian satellite named BLITS was destroyed after colliding with leftover debris from a purposefully-destroyed Chinese satellite. Data gathered from GLADOS can be used to protect this space infrastructure and improve Space Situational Awareness (SSA)
Work on GLADOS started in 2011 for the Air Force Research Laboratory’s University Nanosatellite Program 7, but wasn’t selected for Phase-B funding until AFRL UNP-8 in 2015. It uses two cameras to accomplish its mission, one observing the visible wavelengths, and the other observing the near-IR wavelengths. GLADOS has undergone many revisions during its lifetime, and its development cycle helped UBNL gain the knowledge necessary to grow into the multi-satellite lab it is today. Currently, GLADOS is working towards several important system level tests for its PIR. These tests will rigorously evaluate of all the components and software of the satellite. The results of these tests will prove that all the pieces of the satellite can work together as a system to accomplish GLADOS’s mission. Delivery of GLADOS to the Air Force is currently scheduled for mid 2020, with an anticipated launch in early 2021.