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The Small Satellite Conference returns to Logan for its 36th annual meeting

A cube-shaped metal box with partially visible innards against a view of Earth from space
Steve Jurvetson
CubeSats like this one from NASA are one type of small satellite

Scientists, engineers and other leaders in the field of space technology convened in Logan this week for the 36th Annual Small Satellite Conference. Marianne Sidwell, conference administrator, said the small satellite conference has grown since its first meeting.

“The first conference was in 1987. And it was started by several professors at Utah State University, … so, it probably had 50 people, the first year, and this year we're looking at over 3200 people,” Sidwell said.

Today, small satellites are increasingly used by academics, military organizations, and businesses to obtain information about the space environment and Earth. They also provide images from Earth’s orbit. Most of the attendees at this year’s SmallSat conference represent businesses, said Sidwell.

“And that's more than 50% of our attendance. Probably 20%, 25% is academia, professors and students. And then the rest is kind of broken up with military government entities and others,” Sidwell said.

Sidwell said over 40 countries are represented at this year’s conference. In 2020, when the SmallSat conference was held entirely virtually, around 80 countries were represented.

“So we know the interest is worldwide, and there's a lot of interest in our conference. But yeah, this year now coming back live, we weren't sure how it was going to go, with two years off — but it's, it's amazing. We're just thrilled,” Sidwell said.

As the conference grows, it continues to be held each year in Logan.

“And that's not necessarily the most convenient place to hold a conference. But it's very important to our local community, both economically and it brings attention to the space programs at Utah State University and at Space Dynamics Lab,” Sidwell said.

The conference showcasing innovations in space technology concludes today. For more information about SmallSat, visit

Caroline Long is a science reporter at UPR. She is curious about the natural world and passionate about communicating her findings with others. As a PhD student in Biology at Utah State University, she spends most of her time in the lab or at the coyote facility, studying social behavior. In her free time, she enjoys making art, listening to music, and hiking.