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ASU student builds camera for satellite

Third-year graduate student Michael Veto is working on an infrared camera that will be put to work in space. (Photo by Bob McClay/KTAR)

TEMPE -- An ASU student is working on something that's headed out of this world.

Third-year graduate student Michael Veto is working on an infrared camera that will be put to work in space. He was chosen to build the camera for the Prox-1 satellite that's expected to be launched in a couple of years.

"Our nano-satellite will eject a smaller satellite called a cube-sat," Veto said. "We are kind of like the mother ship. The smaller satellite is going to come out, and there we're going to use the infrared camera to detect it. This will all be going on while the satellites are in earth orbit."

The second satellite is called the Lightsail Solar Sail Spacecraft. Veto has already built a prototype of the camera that is about the size of a shoe box. The prototype will track the Solar Sail through the heat it generates as it orbits the earth.

"The camera will easily be able to see it," said Veto. That's because of all of the heat the satellite will be emitting. "it will be kind of like a light bulb floating around, and our camera's going to be able to detect it."

The Prox-1 mission was designed by students at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and is supported by the Air Force and Raytheon Vision Systems, among others.

Veto says the Air Force wants to have the entire satellite built within the next 18 months. That means he has a deadline to meet.

"I have roughly about eight to 10 months to get a final product to the rest of the team that's going to start bolting it on, hooking up the connections, working with the software and stuff," Veto said.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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