Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Small satellites and especially CubeSats are becoming more widely used to study the space environment. The Ionosphere is one region of particular interest, more specifically the altitude region of 85 km to 600 km. Small satellites are particularly useful for studying this region of the Earth’s atmosphere since the effects of aerodynamic drag on a CubeSat are much less than those on a larger more traditional satellite, thus the lifespan of a CubeSat in this region is much longer. In order to observe the electric field in space, the electric potential between various points needs to be measured. These measurements are most effectively taken when the sensors are located several meters from one another. A deployment mechanism is needed in order to position the sensors at these distances. A miniature wire boom deployment system was developed by Utah State University and the Space Dynamics Laboratory in Logan, Utah which accomplishes this task. The deployment system is capable of deploying sensors up to 5 meters in 4 directions using a piezoelectric motor controlled mechanism. This system conforms to all CubeSat specifications and is modular so it can be integrated into any CubeSat application. Recently this miniature wire boom deployment system was integrated into the two satellites of the DICE program.