MIT STAR Laboratory
Space Telecommunications, Astronomy and Radiation Laboratory

The STAR Laboratory, part of the Space Systems Lab, develops instruments and platforms for observing weather systems on Earth and extraterrestrial planets, and for measuring space weather, the flow of highly energetic particles that originate from our Sun. STAR Lab specializes in weather sensors, space weather (radiation) sensors, and communications systems, precision attitude control systems, and technology demonstrations using shoebox-sized spacecraft known as CubeSats. Weather sensors currently include passive microwave radiometers and Global Positioning System radio occultation receivers. Radiation work includes developing scintillators for CubeSats, characterization of radiation sensitivity of common CubeSat electronic components, and development of self-aware algorithms for spacecraft telemetry anomaly detection and performance monitoring. STAR Lab research also focuses on the challenging problem of how to efficiently get collected data from small satellite platforms back down to the ground using high data rate laser communications systems with advanced and miniaturized pointing and tracking capability. STAR Lab research helps us to understand weather systems on Earth and other planets, helps us to predict and prepare for Solar storms, and improves our ability to get data from small space platforms to the data centers and users on the ground.