LOWELL, MASS. >> NASA has awarded $200,000 to a team of 53 students from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell to design and construct a miniature satellite that will be launched into orbit.

UMass-Lowell officials say the "SPACE HAUC" satellite will blast off in 2018 to embark on a yearlong mission circling earth. The solar-powered satellite, named for the university's River Hawk mascot, will orbit earth every 90 minutes at 17,000 mph to test its ability to collect and transmit research data.

The funding is part of NASA'S Undergraduate Student Institute Project, which seeks to involve students in projects related to NASA missions.

Assistant professor Timothy Cook says this project is not one where faculty completes the work behind closed doors. Instead, the students will be writing the code and building the satellite themselves.