The Aerospace Research & Engineering Systems Institute, Inc. (ARES Institute) is a non-profit educational and scientific organization that promotes space exploration, advanced technology development and STEM education. The organization was founded in 2003 and is a registered tax-exempt organization under Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal
Revenue Code. ARES Institute pursues its mission of research and education by establishing innovative hands-on programs involving students, educational institutions and the general public across the United States.
ARES Institute came to life in 2003 in the wake of the Columbia accident and recognition of the need to increase public support for space exploration as well as STEM education in America’s schools. One of the ways we do this is by creating unique projects utilizing nanosatellite technologies to design and build hardware and experiments that may actually fly in space.
Currently, we are working on a project we have named “LunarSail”. The primary objective of LunarSail is to demonstrate the application of solar sail propulsion and navigation to deliver a nanosatellite from Earth into orbit around the Moon. This initiative will encompass each leg of the organization’s mission by serving as a vehicle for in-space technology development, conducting fundamental scientific research, promoting STEM education and offering the public the opportunity to participate in a mission to send a small spacecraft to the vicinity of the Moon.
The slow journey to the Moon, necessitated by using only a solar sail for propulsion, will enable LunarSail to conduct detailed observations of the space environment on the way to the Moon as well as in lunar orbit. LunarSail will be able to measure the radiation environment, effects of solar storms on spacecraft traveling to the Moon and the micrometeoroid/debris environment of cislunar space. LunarSail will demonstrate the utilization of solar sail technology to propel a spacecraft out of Earth orbit, navigate to a lunar trajectory and utilizing the sail to insert the spacecraft into a targeted orbit around the Moon.
ARES Institute plans to conduct various outreach activities that will involve students and the public in the LunarSail project, including incorporation of crowd-funding methods and operational activities involving the public once the spacecraft has reached the Moon.
We believe that the future of human spaceflight has a direct impact on the potential quality of life on Earth. Both the course space exploration and health of the Earth’s environment are dependent on the development of advanced energy technologies. To this end, we are pursuing an ambitious program to establish a world-class facility to research high-energy plasma and fusion technology for in-space applications (power and propulsion) and uses here on Earth (including terrestrial power and waste remediation).
Our flagship initiative is the “Spacecoast Plasma & High-energy Electrostatics Research & Engineering Laboratory”, also called SPHERELab. Once fully operational, this laboratory facility will conduct research and development in the field of Intertial-Electrostatic Confinement fusion and high-energy plasma science. The lab will research potential applications of plasma and IEC fusion technology for in-space power and propulsion as well as novel terrestrial uses such as semiconductor vapor deposition and hydrocarbon waste remediation. This facility will be made available to academic researchers as well as those from private industry.
Public outreach and engagement is central to ARES Institute’s ongoing mission of promoting space exploration and technology development. To further its mission, we share the excitement of space exploration with the public through our official publication, Zero-G News (http://www.zerognews.com) and robust outreach on social media.