Overclock My Satellite
The Draper group teamed up with engineers at the Naval Postgraduate School, in Monterey, Calif. And in 2010, we carried out our promise to make the NASA observation satellite scan the sky faster than even its mission controllers thought possible. By operating spacecraft beyond their purported limits, we can extend their life and usefulness without installing new hardware and driving up costs. So how do we achieve this clever hack? Ultimately, we overclock a satellite by uploading a set of precise steering instructions from the ground to its onboard flight computer, essentially overriding its automated route. But that's the easy part. The real challenge is figuring out what those instructions should be, which requires solving mathematical puzzles known as optimal control problems.