Professor Emeritus Bo Gustafson was until May 16th 2011 a tenured full Professor in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Florida. Gustafson was also Director for the university’s Laboratory for Astrophysics where his team runs the famous Scaled Electromagnetic Scattering Laboratory and developed space instrumentation for NASA and more recently for ESA’s Rosetta mission. Gustafson stepped down to free more time for research and development of high tech solutions for the developing world. These include space applications in the form of clusters of small satellites and space probes. He continues his theoretical, numerical and experimental studies of the interaction of EM radiation with matter as well as non-gravitational dynamics of solids in space and the kinetics of dusty plasmas.
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) named asteroid 4275 BoGustafson in recognition of the now well known aggregate model for cometary matter and other primitive solids in space that Gustafson developed based on theory and experiments in EM interaction. He then developed and built a microwave scattering laboratory at the University of Florida in 1994-95. The laboratory which is recognized to remain one of the two leading facilities of its kind to date, was first to measure all elements of the light scattering matrix in a bistatic geometry. Gustafson and his team achieved several breakthroughs including the development and experimental verification of a theoretical solution to the interaction of an arbitrary cluster of spherical particles with EM radiation, a generalization of the classical Mie-theory for single spheres. The solution is an exact analytical formulation in classical electrodynamics. Gustafson also pioneered computer modeling of the dynamics of bodies influenced by radiation (electromagnetic and corpuscular), interaction with the solar wind plasma and other non gravitational forces plaguing the motion of small natural cosmic bodies as well as artificial satellites and space probes.
Over the last decade and a half Gustafson’s activities have expanded to the development of an FPGA based geodetic quality GPS/GLONASS L1/L2 -GNSS receiver now manufactured and marketed by DataGrid Inc., a company Gustafson founded in 1999. Gustafson through his company has also developed hardware, software and procedures for land administration and national scale resource management. The World Bank has after six years of testing sanctioned DataGrid’s system as the only system so far approved for systematic demarcation of land in their and the UN Human habitat’s strategy in the New Millennium known as poverty mitigation through improved land tenure security. DataGrid’s system is based on the use of navigation satellites (GPS, GLONASS, and in the future Compass, Galileo, etc…) but Gustafson is working to expand its procedures to help meet WB and UN goals using more cost effective and less labor intensive methods. DataGrid is expected to propose a set of 30 satellite clusters each consisting of a 70 to 100 kg class mother satellite and ten 3 to 10 kg small satellites. These Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites have lifetimes of the order of 3 to 4 years and therefore need to be replaced at the rate of 1 to 2 satellites per week. This and other small satellite applications that DataGrid or its collaborators work on has brought Gustafson and his collaborators to develop technical, commercial and financial means of supporting a satellite production of the magnitude of one satellite per day.
DataGrid’s collaborators in this endeavor are the University of Florida, the Spanish Space Agency INTA, the NASA- Kennedy Space Center, and the State of Florida Space board. DataGrid has through this collaboration access to free space platforms for a demonstration flight (the OPTUS 3U cubesat by INTA and likely a 70 kg class small satellite also by INTA, both satellite platforms have flight heritage) and subsidized launches from the NASA-KSC. DataGrid’s precision GPS receivers with centimeter to sub-centimeter accuracy are an enabling technology for satellite clusters and allow the generation of synthetic antenna appartures. Still needed is payload finalization, payload space hardening and software development (proposal submitted to the Swedish Space Board) in a second collaboration with Gutec AB in Sweden and the Institute for Space Physics (ISF) in Uppsala/Kiruna, Sweden.
Also in collaboration with Gutec AB, the ISF and the University in Padua, Italy, Gustafson and his company DataGrid are working on primarily space related applications of the recently discovered Orbital Angular Momentum (OAM) of light and other electromagnetic radiation. The team demonstrated the ability to transmit radio and TV broadcasts using this new technique in June 2011.