NASA is linking up with The Gator Nation.

Three UF faculty members will work with the space program’s Langley Research Center on a project involving small satellites and star trackers.

UF mechanical and aerospace engineering professors Norman Fitz-Coy and John Conklin will work on the project with Steve Eikenberry, a UF astronomy professor.

Fitz-Coy said the collaboration was requested in April, and the research goals include gaining a better understanding of navigation for the satellites and improving technology.

He said the navigation studies have been an ongoing topic of research.

NASA scientists will also create software for the star tracker system.

Conklin said they want to build bridges between universities and NASA centers.

“The idea is that we can pull expertise from both institutions to develop new technology,” he said.

NASA is giving the project $200,000 over the next two years, according to a news release.

Fourth-year astronomy graduate student Deno Stelter, 27, said the program is important as far as monitoring space.

“If we could use small star trackers it would prolong the lifetimes of these missions,” he said.

Stelter said he is happy UF is getting more federal funding for space research.

Second-year astronomy graduate student Tahlia De Maio, 24, said working on smaller-budget satellites is a good step forward, considering current funds.

A version of this story ran on page 8 on 8/30/2013 under the headline "NASA partners with UF for $200,000 research project"

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