Students’ success as SunbYte III will be carried as part of NASA’s 2019 HASP flights.

Project SunbYte’s third generation is proving successful. It has secured a place on the 2019 flight season of NASA’s HASP, and becomes the only UK or European project on the platform this year.

SunbYte III has been accepted on to the 2019 flight of NASA’s HASP (High Altitude Student Platform). HASP is a zero pressure balloon platform, supported by NASA and Louisiana Space Consortium, that flies once a year from New Mexico, USA. HASP can carry up to twelve student payloads to an altitude of around 36 kilometres with flight durations of over 10 hours.

Project SunbYte is the University of Sheffield’s student-run project, aimed at imaging the Sun. SunbYte III has been built entirely by students and has been partly fabricated in iForge, the student makerspace in the Diamond. Following on from the previous generations, SunbYte III aims to improve the sun-tracking, image collection systems and to obtain full disk images of the sun in the H-alpha spectral line (656.28 nm).

Roisin Clear, a masters student in Automatic Controls and Systems Engineering, has been working on Project SunbYte. She says: “Taking images in the far-red part of the spectrum will allow us to see detail that would be lost in a full-spectrum image. Hopefully the resulting images will be of interest to those exploring space weather and solar physics."

Dr Viktor Fedun (ACSE) added: "This project is part of Sheffield Space Initiative (SSI), http://ssi.group.shef.ac.uk/. This is an excellent opportunity for us to create new sustainable networks between the University of Sheffield, world-wide universities, and the satellite and aerospace industry. Working on the SunbYte project trains STEM students to work together with our researchers and alumni, gaining real life experience in finding design solutions to actual aerospace challenges."

The level of competition to be on board HASP 2019 was very high, and SunbYte III has become the UK’s only payload on this flight. SunbYte is a true interdisciplinary achievement, involving students from a range of departments across the faculties of Engineering and Science, including students in ACSE. Students will assemble and test SunbYte III ahead of integration with the HASP gondola in July, in preparation for the planned launch in September.

SynbYte is part of the University of Sheffield’s Sheffield Space Initiative (SSI) extra-curricular activities involving students from across a range of departments. The SSI activities accelerates and enhance the impact of the space related research carried out at the University of Sheffield and enable us to transfer knowledge and skills thereby increasing the impact of the university and our research. The SSI already has a proven track record in promoting its expertise in student-led research projects and collaborating with universities across the globe. The SSI is supported by FoE, ACSE, SoMaS, Alumni Fund, IPE, IET, RS Components UK and IMecE.