Projecto VeRDE: Vehicle for Collecting Space Debris

Projecto VeRDE: Vehicle for Collecting Space Debris

This is a BRL-CAD community profile, a perspective vignette, from within our user community regarding a student project where BRL-CAD was used for an interesting academic purpose. It's a science project from three young ladies who, in the span of just a couple months, went from knowing pretty much nothing about modeling and BRL-CAD to creating a CAD model of their concept with rendered images and animations. Raquel, Marta, and Teresa used BRL-CAD for their project to model and visualize a spacecraft they designed.

Projecto VeRDE: Vehicle for Collecting Space Debris

  • Students: Raquel Albuquerque, Marta Camões, and Teresa Leal
  • Teacher: Professor Luís
  • School: Escola Secundária José Gomes Ferreira

The project is named “Projecto VeRDE”. Translating to English may sound strange as "Green Project", but in Portuguese 'VeRDE' is the abbreviation of “Veículo de Recolha de Detritos Espaciais." In English, this is a "Vehicle for Collecting Space Debris".

The idea behind the project is that planet Earth is surrounded by space junk that endangers astronauts and represents a very expensive risk to space infrastructures like the International Space Station (ISS), the Hubble Space Telescope, and other functioning satellites. The goal of this spacecraft is 1) to reduce the amount of space debris in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and 2) to construct a “space truck” using environmentally friendly components and electronic systems that already exist in satellites and space shuttles.

These three high-school teenagers worked on creating a representation of their concept within the BRL-CAD solid modeling system. Without any prior knowledge of BRL-CAD, but after going through the available introductory tutorials (even though they were in English), they were able to create a 3d model concept prototype with material shader properties defined. They then used BRL-CAD tools to render images and animation frames producing a 360 degree spinning visualization.

At a science fair in 2009 among more than 100 other projects, Raquel, Marta, and Teresa received an honorable mention for their efforts at the Electrical Museum in Lisbon, Portugal. For more information, a 360 spinning animation, pictures, and additional information, visit the BRL-CAD wiki and image gallery.