This week in Another Wavelength, we chat with Junior, B.S., student Walter Rahmer. Walter is advised by Professor Chris Walker at Steward Observatory.
Where are you from?
I was born in Chile, but I moved to the US when I was very young. I grew up for the first half of my life in the Pasadena, California area and the second half of my life in Tucson.
What brought you to study optics?
My dad works in the engineering side of Astronomy, so I've been exposed to optics from an early age. I originally came to the university studying ECE, but I made the switch to OSE after taking 201. The possibilities in this college just seem so endless, I sometimes worry that I have too many interests.
Who is your hero in science?
My hero in science has to be Carl Sagan. Not only did he make notable contributions to his field, his method of communicating somehow portrayed the beautiful complexity of the universe in a manner simple enough for everyone to understand. I want to follow in his footsteps for my generation.
Describe your research in 20 words or fewer.
I am on the team building CatSat, a briefcase sized satellite that, in the near future, will orbit the Earth.
Describe your research in 200 words or fewer.
CatSat is a 6 unit cubesat, about the size of a briefcase, that will perform research and demonstrate technologies in Earth orbit. The WSPR antenna on the satellite will receive radio signals from the Earth's surface and study how they are altered by the ionosphere. The inflatable antenna will demonstrate a new way to downlink data at high speed. The AstroSDR will demonstrate an advanced system to manage multiple radio frequencies. These are just a few examples of what CatSat will be up to. My position on the team is Integrations and Testing Engineer. Over the past few months, I have been working to integrate the satellite's systems and verify their proper function. When issues arise, I have worked with the team to develop solutions, whether that be software updates, hardware modifications, or even new circuitry. My work has been incredibly varied, covering just about all aspects of the spacecraft. The launch date is approaching, and the team and I are so excited to see our work pay off.
Name three neat facts about you.
- I speak fluent Spanish, but it's not the same Spanish you normally hear around here.
- I got to see the real Curiosity rover in the clean room on a 3rd grade field trip.
- I once slept for 36 hours straight after an all-nighter.