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  • richardmitnick 3:12 pm on March 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Cubesats, From NASA: "NASA Embraces Small Satellites" Video and text,   

    From NASA: “NASA Embraces Small Satellites” Video and text 

    NASA image
    NASA


    Access mp4 video here .

    The earliest satellites of the Space Age were small. Sputnik, for instance, weighed just 184.3 lbs. America’s first satellite, Explorer 1, was even smaller at only about 30 lbs.

    Over time, satellites grew to accommodate more sensors with greater capabilities, but thanks to miniaturization and new technology capabilities, small is back in vogue.

    NASA is one of many government agencies, universities, and commercial organizations embracing small satellite designs, from tiny CubeSats to micro-satellites. A basic CubeSat has 4 inch sides and weighs just a few pounds!

    A CubeSat can be put into place a number of different ways. It can be a hitchhiker, flying to space onboard a rocket whose main purpose is to launch a full-sized satellite. Or it can be put into orbit from the International Space Station. Astronauts recently used this technique when they deployed the Miniature X-Ray Solar Spectrometer (MinXSS), a CubeSat that studies solar flares.

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    On Feb. 2, 2016, NASA announced which CubeSats will fly on the inaugural flight of the agency’s Space Launch System in late 2018. CubeSats are small satellites, about the size of a cereal box, which provide an inexpensive way to access space. This file photo shows a set of NanoRacks CubeSats in space after their deployment in 2014.
    Credits: NASA

    In 2018, NASA plans to launch the CubeSat to study Solar Particles (CuSP). It will hitch a ride out of Earth orbit during an uncrewed test flight of NASA’s Space Launch System.

    CuSP could serve as a small “space weather buoy.”

    Eric Christian, CuSP’s lead scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland says, “Right now, with our current fleet of large satellites, it’s like we’re trying to understand weather for the entire Pacific Ocean with just a handful of weather stations. We need to collect data from more locations.”

    For certain areas of science, having a larger number of less expensive missions will provide a powerful opportunity to really understand a given environment. Christian says, “If you had, say, 20 CubeSats in different orbits, you could really start to understand the space environment in three dimensions.”

    NASA scientists are taking this approach of using a constellation of sensors to probe the details of a large area with a number of recently launched and upcoming missions.

    The Cyclone Global Navigation Satallite System, or CYGNSS, launched in December 2016. CYGNSS uses eight micro-satellites to measure ocean surface winds in and near the eyes of tropical cyclones, typhoons, and hurricanes to learn about their rapid intensification. These micro-satellites each weigh about 65 lbs, larger than a CubeSat but still very small compared to traditional satellite designs.

    Additionally, the first four selections from the In-Space Validation of Earth Science Technologies (InVEST) program recently began launching. The goal of the InVEST program is to validate new technologies in space prior to use in a science mission.

    RAVAN, the first of the InVEST CubeSats, was launched in November 2016 to demonstrate a new way to measure radiation reflected by Earth. The next three InVEST missions to launch, HARP, IceCube, and MiRaTA, will demonstrate technologies that may pave the way for future satellites to measure clouds and aerosols suspended in Earth’s atmosphere, probe the role of icy clouds in climate change, and collect atmospheric temperature, water vapor, and cloud ice data through remote sensing, respectively.

    NASA’s Science Mission Directorate is looking to develop scientific CubeSats that cut across all NASA Science through the SMD CubeSat Initiative Program.

    Andrea Martin, communications specialist for NASA’s Earth Science Technology Office, believes this is just the beginning. She says, “CubeSats could be flown in formation, known as constellations, with quick revisit times to better capture the dynamic processes of Earth. Multiple CubeSats can also take complementary measurements unachievable by a single larger mission.” She envisions big things ahead for these little satellites.

    For more news about CubeSats and other cutting edge technologies both big and small, stay tuned to science.nasa.gov.

    See the full article here .

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    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:38 pm on March 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Cubesats, NANOSwarm,   

    From Universe Today: “Are You Ready For The NanoSWARM?” 

    universe-today

    Universe Today

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    CubeSats NODes 1 & 2 and STMSat-1 are deployed from the International Space Station during Expedition 47. Image: NASA

    14 Mar , 2017
    Evan Gough

    We’re accustomed to the ‘large craft’ approach to exploring our Solar System. Probes like the Voyagers, the Mariners, and the Pioneers have written their place in the history of space exploration. Missions like Cassini and Juno are carrying on that work. But advances in technology mean that Nanosats and Cubesats might write the next chapter in the exploration of our Solar System.

    Nanosats and Cubesats are different than the probes of the past. They’re much smaller and cheaper, and they offer some flexibility in our approach to exploring the Solar System. A Nanosat is defined as a satellite with a mass between 1 and 10 kg. A CubeSat is made up of multiple cubes of roughly 10cm³ (10cm x 10cm x 11.35cm). Together, they hold the promise of rapidly expanding our understanding of the Solar System in a much more flexible way.

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    A cubesat structure, made by ClydeSpace, 1U in size. Credit: Wikipedia Commons/Svobodat

    NASA has been working on smaller satellites for a few years, and the work is starting to bear some serious fruit. A group of scientists at JPL predicts that by 2020 there will be 10 deep space CubeSats exploring our Solar System, and by 2030 there will be 100 of them. NASA, as usual, is developing NanoSat and CubeSat technologies, but so are private companies like Scotland’s Clyde Space.

    INSPIRE and MarCO

    NASA has built 2 Interplanetary NanoSpacecraft Pathfinder In Relevant Environment (INSPIRE) CubeSats to be launched in 2017. They will demonstrate what NASA calls the “revolutionary capability of deep space CubeSats.” They’ll be placed in earth-escape orbit to show that they can withstand the rigors of space, and can operate, navigate, and communicate effectively.

    Following in INSPIRE’s footsteps will be the Mars Cube One (MarCO) CubeSats. MarCO will demonstrate one of the most attractive aspects of CubeSats and NanoSats: their ability to hitch a ride with larger missions and to augment the capabilities of those missions.

    In 2018, NASA plans to send a stationary lander to Mars, called Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight). The MarCO CubeSats will be along for the ride, and will act as communications relays, though they aren’t needed for mission success. They will be the first CubeSats to be sent into deep space.


    So what are some specific targets for this new class of small probes? The applications for NanoSats and CubeSats are abundant.

    Other NanoSat and CubeSat Missions

    NASA’s Europa Clipper Mission, planned for the 2020’s, will likely have CubeSats along for the ride as it scrutinizes Europa for conditions favorable for life. NASA has contracted 10 academic institutes to study CubeSats that would allow the mission to get closer to Europa’s frozen surface.

    The ESA’s AIM asteroid probe will launch in 2020 to study a binary asteroid system called the Didymos system. AIM will consist of the main spacecraft, a small lander, and at least two CubeSats. The CubeSats will act as part of a deep space communications network.

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    ESA’s Asteroid Impact Mission is joined by two triple-unit CubeSats to observe the impact of the NASA-led Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology (DART) probe with the secondary Didymos asteroid, planned for late 2022. Image: ESA

    The challenging environment of Venus is also another world where CubeSats and NanoSats can play a prominent role. Many missions make use of a gravity assist from Venus as they head to their main objective. The small size of NanoSats means that one or more of them could be released at Venus. The thick atmosphere at Venus gives us a chance to demonstrate aerocapture and to place NanoSats in orbit around our neighbor planet. These NanoSats could take study the Venusian atmosphere and send the results back to Earth.

    NanoSWARM

    But the proposed NanoSWARM might be the most effective demonstration of the power of NanoSats yet. The NanoSWARM mission would have a fleet of small satellites sent to the Moon with a specific set of objectives. Unlike other missions, where NanoSats and CubeSats would be part of a mission centered around larger payloads, NanoSWARM would be only small satellites.

    NanoSWARM is a forward thinking mission that is so far only a concept. It would be a fleet of CubeSats orbiting the Moon and addressing questions around planetary magnetism, surface water on airless bodies, space weathering, and the physics of small-scale magnetospheres. NanoSWARM would target features on the Moon called “swirls“, which are high-albedo features correlated with strong magnetic fields and low surficial water. NanoSWARM CubeSats will make the first near-surface measurements of solar wind flux and magnetic fields at swirls.

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    This is an image of the Reiner Gamma lunar swirl from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
    Credits: NASA LRO WAC science team

    NanoSWARM would have a mission architecture referred to as “mother with many children.” The mother ship would release two sets of CubeSats. One set would be released with impact trajectories and would gather data on magnetism and proton fluxes right up until impact. A second set would orbit the Moon to measure neutron fluxes. NanoSWARM’s results would tell us a lot about the geophysics, volatile distribution, and plasma physics of other bodies, including terrestrial planets and asteroids.

    Space enthusiasts know that the Voyager probes had less computing power than our mobile phones. It’s common knowledge that our electronics are getting smaller and smaller. We’re also getting better at all the other technologies necessary for CubeSats and NanoSats, like batteries, solar arrays, and electrospray thrusters. As this trend continues, expect nanosatellites and cubesats to play a larger and more prominent role in space exploration.

    And get ready for the NanoSTORM.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 2:44 pm on January 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Algeria, AlSat Nano, , , Cubesats,   

    From UK Space: “First colour image for joint UK and Algerian CubeSat” 

    UK Space Agency

    UK Space Agency

    9 January 2017

    AlSat Nano, a UK-Algeria CubeSat mission, has captured its first full colour image following its launch in September 2016.

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    Image taken from space of the Arkhangelsk Oblast region, on the North West coast of Russia. Credit: Alsat Nano mission, Open University, December 2016.

    The image was taken by the Open University C3D2 instrument’s wide field camera on 3rd December, 2016, over the Arkhangelsk Oblast region, on the North West coast of Russia. It was captured under twilight conditions at dawn, showing the coastline to the right, and a brief winter sunrise over the arctic region with a deep red-brown hue. Through the cloud cover there is evidence of hills and snow on mountains, and mist in the river valleys. The object in the foreground is the Oxford Space Systems Ltd AstroTubeTM Boom payload, also carried on board the spacecraft.

    This marks an important milestone for the mission as all core payloads have now been commissioned successfully, paving the way for further scientific and commercial exploitation.

    Dr Chris Castelli, UK Space Agency Director of Programmes said:

    “Successfully delivering this joint UK-Algeria mission from payload selection to launch readiness in 18 months is a great achievement from all programme partners. As this latest image demonstrates, mission operations are going from strength to strength, validating cutting edge UK space technology and our open approach to working with international partners.”

    AlSat Nano is Algeria’s first CubeSat mission and shows the capability of UK technology in partnership with industry and academia. With a spacecraft the size of a shoebox yet featuring all the core subsystems of much larger satellites, the programme demonstrates how CubeSats can be assembled quickly and launched at a fraction of the cost. This will help Algeria strengthen its domestic space technology capability by giving their scientists and engineers first-hand experience of spacecraft operations.

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    Alsat Nano image overlayed on Google Maps. Credit: Alsat Nano mission, Open University, December 2016. Map credit: Google Maps.

    Dr Abdewahab Chikouche, Director of Space Programmes at Algerian Space Agency, said:

    “The Alsat-1N project is a concrete example of the success of our cooperation with UKSA. This project, very enriching from the scientific and technological point of view, allowed ASAL engineers to progress in the integration and testing of nanosatellites and acquire autonomy in its operation. This project will enable Algerian researchers and academics to strengthen national capabilities in advanced space technology.”

    Approximately half of the spacecraft’s volume was made available as part of an open call to the UK CubeSat community as a free flight opportunity for self-funded payloads. AlSat Nano stuck to a tight development schedule, with less than 18 months between payload selection and flight readiness.

    Prof Guglielmo Aglietti, Director of Surrey Space Centre said:

    “AlSat Nano has been an exciting project for the Surrey Space Centre to be leading. Educational and research elements, and the technology knowledge transfer with the Algerian Space Agency were key parts of this project. Additionally, the development of this nanosatellite platform has been a great opportunity to work with UK payload providers, who are demonstrating some exciting new technologies.”

    AlSat Nano is a joint nanosatellite mission between the UK Space Agency and Algerian Space Agency (ASAL) as part of an on-going initiative to enhance collaboration. UK Space Agency has funded the design, build and verification of the spacecraft at Surrey Space Centre (SSC), University of Surrey, as a hands-on learning exercise for Algerian postgrad students to demonstrate the practical elements of low cost space technology. ASAL has provided the launch, and operations are being undertaken in Algeria by ASAL operators trained at SSC.

    The three selected payloads on AlSat Nano are:

    C3D2

    A highly customisable CubeSat camera suite offering three fields of view and innovative on-board software processing capabilities. The payload is also a remote experiment of the OpenSTEM Labs – a suite of remote experiments that supports distance learning students studying science and engineering. C3D2 will offer these students the chance to operate a real payload on an orbiting spacecraft. The payload development is led by the Open University Centre for Electronic Imaging with sensor hardware provided by e2v Ltd and electronics from XCAM Ltd.

    Thin Film Solar Cell

    A novel solar cell structure which is directly layered on cover glass just 1/10th of a millimetre thick. Effects from the space environment will be measured, with the aim of allowing the organisations involved a route to product development and commercial exploitation of this technology. This project is led by the Swansea University Centre for Solar Energy Research with contributions from the University of Surrey, Qioptiq Ltd and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.

    AstroTube Boom

    A retractable CubeSat-compatible boom which should be able to deploy up to 1.5 metres in length from a volume around the size of a business card holder. This technology would enable CubeSats to carry out a greater range of science experiments that require sensors to be held as far away from the spacecraft as possible to reduce interference, and could also form the basis of de-orbit systems for future missions. The payload also carries a magnetometer, one of the most compact of its class, to carry out measurements of the Earth’s magnetic field, and RadFET radiation monitors. The payload is led by Oxford Space Systems Ltd, collaborating with partners including the Science and Technology Facilities Councils RAL Space and Bartington Instruments Ltd.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 9:19 am on August 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Cubesats,   

    From ESA: “How to dock CubeSats” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    17 August 2016
    No writer credit found

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    Docking CubeSats The ability to autonomously rendezvous and dock CubeSats could enable in-orbit assembly of larger structures that simply would not be possible in any other way. The challenge is that CubeSats are faced with tight mass, propellant and power constraints. The control accuracy necessary for docking would be on the order of a single centimetre.EPFL/Jamani Caillet.

    The miniature satellites known as CubeSats already play a variety of roles in space. In future they could also serve as the building blocks of other, larger missions by being docked together in orbit. CubeSats are nanosatellites of standardised dimensions based on multiple 10-cm-sided cubes, which ESA is employing for both educational and technology-demonstration purposes. “The ability to autonomously rendezvous and dock CubeSats could enable in-orbit assembly of larger structures that simply would not be possible in any other way,” explains Roger Walker, overseeing ESA’s technology CubeSats.

    ”Think for instance of constructing a very large telescope mirror or radio antenna for astronomy out of separate CubeSat segments, getting around size limitations set by our rocket fairings.”

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    Lining up for CubeSat docking. Advanced guidance, navigation and control would be required to autonomously rendezvous and dock CubeSats. The challenge is that CubeSats are faced with tight mass, propellant and power constraints. The control accuracy necessary for docking would be on the order of a single centimetre. EPFL/Jamani Caillet

    So as a first step, ESA is part-funding PhD research into autonomous CubeSat docking techniques. “We’re looking at the level of guidance, navigation and control performance that would be achievable with the miniaturised sensors and propulsion available to such small satellites, and what kind of docking accuracy might be possible,” said Finn Ankersen, an ESA expert in rendezvous and docking and co-supervisor of the research. Researcher Camille Pirat of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland is having his PhD work supported through ESA’s Networking and Partnering Initiative, intended to harness advanced academic research for space applications.

    “My interest in the topic came out of a previous R&D project with ESA, designing a CubeSat mission to test out active space debris removal technologies, such as those that will be needed for ESA’s proposed e.Deorbit mission, to capture and deorbit an entire large derelict satellite from orbit.

    “The idea would be to demonstrate the pre-capture approach and synchronising of attitude between the chaser spacecraft and the tumbling target at the CubeSat scale, to prepare for a full-scale mission. It was that work that gave rise to this very interesting question: how can we perform rendezvous and docking between CubeSats?

    “The challenge is that CubeSats obviously have tight mass, propellant and power constraints. We will need a positioning accuracy of something like 1 cm, previously achieved by ESA’s ATV supply spacecraft when docking with the International Space Station, but obviously the ATV was orders of magnitude bigger.

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    ATV-5 docks. ESA’s ATV-5 cargo vessel at moment of docking on 12 August 2014. ESA/NASA

    “A CubeSat docking would be more like placing a needle into a 1-cm-diameter hole, employing a limited number of sensors and of course a strictly limited amount of propellant. A high level of onboard autonomy would also be desirable.”

    The two nanosatellites would begin by using GPS navigation for the control system to bring them into closer range, with inter-satellite links established at about 20 km from each other.

    “Closer in, we’d be relying on camera-based navigation, with LED beacons fitted to the CubeSats to help measure the relative range and attitude between chaser and target. What I’m currently looking at is how changes in lighting conditions might impact this solution – if sunglare would be a problem, for example.”

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    AAUSAT5 deployment. Two ESA CubeSats, the student-built AAUSat-5 and the professional technology demonstrator GomX-3, were deployed together from the International Space Station on 5 October 2015, going on to separate to begin their missions. NASA

    Cold-gas thrusters are currently being baselined, although electric propulsion would offer a way of squeezing extra efficiency out of scarce onboard fuel for longer-range rendezvous operations – with knock-on effects for the size and capacity of solar arrays.

    “I’m doing the work in Switzerland, but with regular visits to ESA’s ESTEC technical centre in the Netherlands,” adds Camille Pirat. “This gives me the chance to confer with Roger and also veterans of ESA’s ATV spacecraft such as Finn – it was such a great programme, it’s very useful to be able to learn from their experience.”

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    Three-unit CubeSat. Preparing a CubeSat. Cubesats are nanosatellites that follow the popular ‘CubeSat’ standard, which defines the outer dimensions of the satellite within multiple cubic units of 10x10x10 cm. They typically weigh between 1 and 10 kilograms. For instance, a 3-unit CubeSat has dimensions of 10x10x30 cm and weighs about 3-4 kg. ESA

    In parallel with the Proba minisatellite missions, ESA is now also utilising much smaller ‘CubeSat’ nanosatellites. These are employed for the In-Orbit Demonstration (IOD) of miniaturised technologies and for small payload-driven missions.

    What are CubeSats?

    These nanosatellites typically weigh between 1 and 10 kilograms and follow the popular ‘CubeSat’ standard, which defines the outer dimensions of the satellite within multiple cubic units of 10x10x10 cm. For instance, a 3-unit CubeSat has dimensions of 10x10x30 cm and weighs about 3-4 kg. This is typically the minimum size which can accommodate small technology payloads.

    Fixing the satellite body dimensions promotes a highly modular, highly integrated system where satellite subsystems are available as ’commercial off the shelf’ products from a number of different suppliers and can be stacked together according to the needs of the mission. Furthermore, the standard dimensions also allows CubeSats to hitch a ride to orbit within a container, which simplifies the accommodation on the launcher and minimises flight safety issues, increasing the number of launch opportunities as well as keeping the launch cost low.

    Due to their high degree of modularity and extensive use of commercial off the shelf subsystems, CubeSat projects can be readied for flight on a much more rapid basis compared to traditional satellite schedules, typically within one to two years.

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    SIMBA mission. Led by the Royal Meteorological Institute Belgium, SIMBA is a 3-unit CubeSat mission to measure the Total Solar Irradiance and Earth Radiation Budget climate variables with a miniaturised radiometer instrument, due to be launched in 2016 as part of the European Commission-funded multi-cubesat QB50 flight. ESA

    Why is ESA interested in cubesats?

    CubeSats have already proved their worth as educational tools. In addition, they have various promising applications in the ESA context:

    As a driver for drastic miniaturisation of systems, ‘systems-on-chips’, and totally new approach to packaging and integration, multi-functional structures, embedded propulsion
    As an affordable means of demonstrating such technologies, together with novel techniques such as de-orbiting devices or formation flying
    As an opportunity to carry out distributed multiple in-situ measurements, such as obtaining simultaneous multi-point observations of the space environment (which might include the thermosphere, ionosphere, magnetosphere or charged particle flux)
    As a means of deploying small payloads – for instance, very compact radio receivers or optical cameras where the potential deficit in performance may be largely compensated by the multitude of satellites involved.

    Technology in-orbit demonstartion of cubesats

    Since 2013, ESA has begun a number of CubeSat missions and technology development activities funded under the In-Orbit Demonstration part of the General Support Technology Programme (GSTP). The following IOD projects are underway:

    GomX-3 (led by Gomspace, Denmark): a 3-unit CubeSat mission to demonstrate aircraft ADS-B signal reception and geostationary telecommunication satellite spot beam signal quality using an L-band reconfigurable software defined radio payload. A miniaturised high data rate X-band transmitter developed by Syrlinks and funded by the French space agency CNES is being flown as a third party payload. The satellite was deployed from the International Space Station on 5 October 2015.

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    Picasso CubeSat. The PICosatellite for Atmospheric and Space Science Observations (Picasso) CubeSat, designed to investigate the upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere.

    Developed for ESA by the Belgian Institute of Space Aeronomy with VTT Finland and the UK’s Clyde Space, Picasso will measure the distribution of ozone in the stratosphere and profile the temperature of the mesosphere and the electron density in the ionosphere.

    Just 30x10x10 cm in size, the CubeSat will use a miniaturised multispectral imager for atmospheric ‘limb sounding’ with the Sun as the light source, and a multineedle ‘Langmuir probe’ sampling the electron density of the space around it.

    CubeSats are standardised pico- and nanosatellites formed in cubes of 10 cm per side, with a maximum mass of 1.5 kg per cube, intended to make access to space affordable for small companies, research institutes and universities. One-, two- or three-cube CubeSats are currently being flown.

    Picasso is one of a number of CubeSat missions being backed by the In-Orbit Demonstration element of ESA’s General Support Technology Programme. It will be launched in 2016 as part of QB50, a network of 50 CubeSats to probe largely unexplored layers of Earth’s atmosphere. BISA.

    SIMBA (led by the Royal Meteorological Institute Belgium): a 3-unit CubeSat mission to measure the Total Solar Irradiance and Earth Radiation Budget climate variables with a miniaturised radiometer instrument, due to be launched in 2016 as part of the European Commission-funded multi-cubesat QB50 flight
    QARMAN (led by the Von Karman Institute, Belgium): a 3-unit CubeSat mission to demonstrate reentry technologies, particularly novel heatshield materials, new passive aerodynamic drag and attitude stabilisation systems, and the transmission of telemetry data during reentry via data relay satellites in low-Earth orbit, due to be launched in 2016 as part of the QB50 flight
    Picasso (led by Belgian Institute of Space Aeronomy with VTT Finland and Clyde Space, UK): a 3-unit CubeSat mission to measure Stratospheric Ozone distribution, Mesospheric Temperature profile and Electron density in the ionosphere using a miniaturised multi-spectral imager for limb sounding of solar disk, and a multi-Needle Langmuir Probe, due to be launched in 2016 on the QB50 flight.

    See the full article here .

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 2:04 pm on August 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Cubesats,   

    From Northwestern: “Northwestern Experiments Head to Space” 

    Northwestern U bloc
    Northwestern University

    Aug 15, 2016
    Amanda Morris

    Two Northwestern Engineering experiments will soon take up residence inside of a galactic laboratory.

    NASA’s Physical Science Research Program is funding 16 flight proposals for research to be conducted aboard the International Space Station as a part of its MaterialsLab program. David Dunand and Peter Voorhees, both professors of materials science and engineering in Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering, are among those funded.

    “This is exciting news for Northwestern Engineering,” said Dunand, James N. and Margie M. Krebs Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. “Only sixteen projects were selected nationwide from a very large pool, and we received two of them.”

    The NASA program funds projects that investigate physical phenomena in the absence of gravity. These projects both contribute to the basic understanding underlying space exploration technologies and lead to new, improved products for Earth.

    Dunand and Voorhees co-advise a project that creates foams made of titanium oxide and other ceramics through a process called freeze casting. When titanium oxide nanoparticles are suspended in water and frozen, the ice crystals push the nanoparticles into regions where they are concentrated. The ice crystals are then removed by sublimation, leaving behind a highly porous nanoparticle scaffold, which can be further consolidated by heat treatment.

    The freeze casting process benefits from zero gravity as the resulting structures are more regular than those created in the laboratory. Led by undergraduate Kristen Scotti, the Northwestern team has already performed this experiment on parabolic flights aboard NASA’s “Weightless Wonder” aircraft and will soon conduct it in a CubeSat, designed and built at Northwestern and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which will be launched into low-Earth orbit next year.

    Voorhees’ funded experiment will examine fragmentation that occurs during the solidification of a metal. Fragments are one of the major defects in metal castings and, for example, can greatly reduce mechanical properties of turbine blades used in jet turbines and wind turbines. Performing the experiments in reduced gravity prevents fragments from settling, making it possible to measure the location and rate at which these fragments form.

    “This will help us understand the fragmentation process and build models to predict when these fragments may form during solidification on Earth,” said Voorhees, Frank C. Engelhart Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. “These models can then be used to prevent fragmentation during solidification of turbine blades and other castings on Earth.”

    See the full article here .

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    Northwestern South Campus
    South Campus

    On May 31, 1850, nine men gathered to begin planning a university that would serve the Northwest Territory.

    Given that they had little money, no land and limited higher education experience, their vision was ambitious. But through a combination of creative financing, shrewd politicking, religious inspiration and an abundance of hard work, the founders of Northwestern University were able to make that dream a reality.

    In 1853, the founders purchased a 379-acre tract of land on the shore of Lake Michigan 12 miles north of Chicago. They established a campus and developed the land near it, naming the surrounding town Evanston in honor of one of the University’s founders, John Evans. After completing its first building in 1855, Northwestern began classes that fall with two faculty members and 10 students.
    Twenty-one presidents have presided over Northwestern in the years since. The University has grown to include 12 schools and colleges, with additional campuses in Chicago and Doha, Qatar.

    Northwestern is recognized nationally and internationally for its educational programs.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:55 pm on May 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Cubesats, , NASA Nodes mission   

    From NASA Ames: “NASA Small Satellites to Demonstrate Swarm Communications and Autonomy” 

    NASA Ames Icon

    Dec. 7, 2015 [But pertinent, read on]
    Author: Julianna Fishman
    Small Spacecraft Technology Program

    Media contact: Kimberly Williams
    kimberly.k.williams@nasa.gov
    Ames Research Center

    Last Updated: April 19, 2016
    Editor: Kimberly Williams

    1

    NASA’s two Nodes small satellites hitched a ride to the International Space Station on the fourth Orbital ATK cargo mission, which launched on Dec. 6. The satellites are slated for deployment into low-Earth orbit in May 2016.

    The Nodes mission, which consists of two CubeSats weighing just 4.5 pounds each and measuring 4 inches by 4 inches by 6.5 inches, will test new network capabilities for operating swarms of spacecraft in the future.

    “The purpose of the Nodes demonstration is to test out the potential for using multiple, small, low-cost satellites to perform complex science missions,” said Andrew Petro, program executive for the Small Spacecraft Technology Program (SSTP) in the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

    A first for small satellites, Nodes will demonstrate the ability to receive and distribute commands in space from the ground in addition to periodically exchanging scientific data from their onboard radiation instruments. The satellites will be able to configure their data network autonomously by determining which spacecraft is best suited to communicate with the ground each day of the mission.

    “The technologies demonstrated during this mission are important, as they will show that a network of satellites can be controlled without communicating to each satellite directly,” said Roger Hunter, program manager for SSTP at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California. “Nodes will demonstrate inter-satellite communications and autonomous command and control; this will help enable future constellation command and control capabilities.”

    Upon deployment from the station, the Energetic Particle Integrating Space Environment Monitor (EPISEM) radiation sensor aboard each Nodes satellite will collect data on the charged particle environment at an altitude of about 250 miles above Earth. The EPISEM instruments were provided under contract by Montana State University. The Nodes satellites will demonstrate their networking capabilities through communication of this data with each other and the ground.

    As part of a partnership with Ames, Santa Clara University in California will conduct ground operations for the nominal two-week mission. Acting as a ground station, the university will provide an online mission dashboard with current mission status, including operational status of satellite subsystems, ground segment communications status and satellite location tracking. The dashboard is currently available for viewing, but will not be active until after the Nodes deploy from the ISS in mid-May.

    The mission is scheduled to last for two weeks, though the CubeSats will remain in orbit for several more months before their orbit decays, they re-enter and burn up in the atmosphere.

    Nodes continues the legacy of the Phonesat series of small satellites by using commercially developed Android smartphone technology augmented with additional custom software that enables the satellites to perform spacecraft functions.

    The launch of the Nodes small satellites follows last month’s launch of the eight small satellites of the Edison Demonstration of Smallsat Networks (EDSN) mission, which was lost in the failure of the U.S. Air Force-led Operationally Responsive Space Office’s ORS-4 mission. However, the Nodes spacecraft were developed at Ames by the same team that developed the EDSN spacecraft and many of the same capabilities planned for EDSN will be demonstrated in the Nodes mission, with additional software enhancements.

    “The Nodes mission concept was an opportunity to leverage the excellent work done on EDSN, and extend the systems at a low-cost and effort,” stated David Korsmeyer, director of engineering at Ames. “This is the value of the nanosat model of mission — quickly adapt to new opportunities and leverage systems for incremental missions.”

    Networked swarms of small satellites will open new horizons in astronomy, Earth observation and solar physics. Their range of applications includes multi-satellite science missions, the formation of synthetic aperture radars for Earth sensing systems, as well as large aperture observatories for next-generation telescopes. They can also serve to collect science measurements distributed over space and time to study the Earth, the Earth’s magnetosphere, gravity field, and Earth-Sun interactions.

    The Nodes project is sponsored by the SSTP, a program within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, and received additional funding from the Ames Research Center.

    For more information on NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/smallsats

    Nodes Fact Sheet

    See the full article here .

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    Ames Research Center, one of 10 NASA field Centers, is located in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. For over 60 years, Ames has led NASA in conducting world-class research and development. With 2500 employees and an annual budget of $900 million, Ames provides NASA with advancements in:
    Entry systems: Safely delivering spacecraft to Earth & other celestial bodies
    Supercomputing: Enabling NASA’s advanced modeling and simulation
    NextGen air transportation: Transforming the way we fly
    Airborne science: Examining our own world & beyond from the sky
    Low-cost missions: Enabling high value science to low Earth orbit & the moon
    Biology & astrobiology: Understanding life on Earth — and in space
    Exoplanets: Finding worlds beyond our own
    Autonomy & robotics: Complementing humans in space
    Lunar science: Rediscovering our moon
    Human factors: Advancing human-technology interaction for NASA missions
    Wind tunnels: Testing on the ground before you take to the sky

    NASA image

     
  • richardmitnick 3:27 pm on May 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Cubesats,   

    From Goddard: “MinXSS CubeSat Deployed From ISS to Study Sun’s Soft X-Rays” 

    NASA Goddard Banner

    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    1
    On May 16, 2016, the NASA-funded MinXSS CubeSat deployed from an airlock of the International Space Station to enter an orbit around Earth. MinXSS observes soft X-rays from the sun — such X-rays can disturb the ionosphere and thereby hamper radio and GPS signals.
    Credits: ESA/NASA

    On May 16, 2016, the bread loaf-sized Miniature X-Ray Solar Spectrometer, or MinXSS, CubeSat deployed from an airlock on the International Space Station to begin its journey into space. The NASA-funded MinXSS studies emissions from the sun that can affect our communications systems.

    MinXSS will operate for up to 12 months. The CubeSat observes soft X-rays from the sun, which can disrupt Earth’s upper atmosphere and hamper radio and GPS signals traveling through the region. The intensity of the soft x-ray emissions emitted from the sun is continuously changing over a large range – with peak emission levels occurring during large eruptions on the sun called solar flares.

    MinXSS data will also help us understand the physics behind solar flares. The soft X-rays carry information about the temperature, density and chemical composition of material in the sun’s atmosphere, allowing scientists to trace how events like flares and other processes heat the surrounding material in the sun’s atmosphere – which are still being debated among solar scientists.

    ​CubeSats are a new, low-cost tool for space science missions. Instead of the traditional space science missions that carry a significant number of custom-built, state-of-the-art instruments, CubeSats are designed to take narrowly targeted scientific observations, with only a few instruments, often built from off-the-shelf components. For example, MinXSS uses a commercially purchased X-ray spectrometer for a detector and an extendable tape measure as a radio antenna. The MinXSS development program was funded by the NASA Science Mission Directorate CubeSat Initiative Program and implemented by the University of Colorado Boulder under the leadership of Principal Investigator Tom Woods.

    MinXSS was launched via the NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative program on Dec. 6, 2015, aboard Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft through NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. Since its inception in 2010, the CSLI has selected more than 120 CubeSats for launch and deployed 43 small satellites as part of the agency’s Launch Services Program’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellite Missions.

    Related Link

    More information about MinXSS

    See the full article here.

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    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.

    NASA Goddard Campus
    NASA/Goddard Campus
    NASA

     
  • richardmitnick 9:06 pm on February 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Cubesats, ,   

    From JPL: “Six CubeSats with JPL Contributions Chosen for SLS Flight” 

    JPL-Caltech

    February 2, 2016
    Elizabeth Landau
    NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-6425
    Elizabeth.Landau@jpl.nasa.gov

    Kathryn Hambleton
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1100
    kathryn.hambleton@nasa.gov

    Kim Newton / Shannon Ridinger
    Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
    256-544-0371 / 256-544-3774
    kimberly.d.newton@nasa.gov / shannon.j.ridinger@nasa.gov

    NASA JPL Lunar Flashlight
    The Lunar Flashlight, flying as secondary payload on the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System, will examine the moon’s surface for ice deposits and identify locations where resources may be extracted.Credit: NASA

    The first flight of NASA’s new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), will carry 13 low-cost CubeSats to test innovative ideas along with an uncrewed Orion spacecraft in 2018. Six of these CubeSat missions have contributions from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

    NASA Space Launch System
    NASA SLS

    NASA Orion Spacecraft
    NASA Orion spacecraft

    These small satellite secondary payloads will carry science and technology investigations to help pave the way for future human exploration in deep space, including the Journey to Mars.

    NASA Journey to Mars

    SLS’ first flight, referred to as Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), provides the rare opportunity for these small experiments to reach deep space destinations, as most launch opportunities for CubeSats are limited to low-Earth orbit.

    “The 13 CubeSats that will fly to deep space as secondary payloads aboard SLS on EM-1showcase the intersection of science and technology, and advance our journey to Mars,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman.

    The secondary payloads were selected through a series of announcements of flight opportunities, a NASA challenge and negotiations with NASA’s international partners.

    “The SLS is providing an incredible opportunity to conduct science missions and test key technologies beyond low-Earth orbit,” said Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This rocket has the unprecedented power to send Orion to deep space plus room to carry a fleet of 13 small satellites — payloads that will advance our knowledge about deep space with minimal cost.”

    NASA selected two payloads through the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Broad Agency Announcement:

    Skyfire –Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Denver,will develop a CubeSat to perform a flyby of the moon, taking infrared sensor data during the flyby to enhance our knowledge of the lunar surface.
    Lunar IceCube–Morehead State University, Kentucky,will build a CubeSat to search for water ice and other resources at a low orbit of only 62 miles above the surface of the moon. JPL is providing telecommunications support and Deep Space Network support. The measurement principal investigator is also based at JPL.

    Three payloads were selected by NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate:

    Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, or NEA Scout will perform reconnaissance of an asteroid, take pictures and observe its position in space. JPL is responsible for building and delivering the spacecraft, and the principal investigator is based at JPL.
    BioSentinel will use yeast to detect, measure and compare the impact of deepspace radiation on living organisms over long durations in deep space. JPL is providing telecommunications support and Deep Space Network support.
    Lunar Flashlight will look for ice deposits and identify locations where resources may be extracted from the lunar surface. JPL is managing the mission, and the project manager is based at JPL.

    Two payloads were selected by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate:

    CuSP — a “space weather station” to measure particles and magnetic fields in space, testing practicality for a network of stations to monitor space weather. JPL is providing telecommunications support and Deep Space Network support.
    LunaH-Map will map hydrogen within craters and other permanently shadowed regions throughout the moon’s south pole. JPL is providing telecommunications support and Deep Space Network support.

    Three additional payloads will be determined through NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge — sponsored by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and designed to foster innovations in small spacecraft propulsion and communications techniques. CubeSat builders will vie for a launch opportunity on SLS’ first flight through a competition that has four rounds, referred to as ground tournaments, leading to the selection in 2017 of the payloads to fly on the mission.

    NASA has also reserved three slots for payloads from international partners. Advanced discussions to fly those three additional payloads are ongoing, and they will be announced at a later time.

    On this first flight, SLS will launch the Orion spacecraft to a stable orbit beyond the moon to demonstrate the integrated system performance of Orion and the SLS rocket prior to the first crewed flight. The first configuration of SLS that will fly on EM-1 is referred to as Block I and will have a minimum 70-metric-ton (77-ton) lift capability and be powered by twin boosters and four RS-25 engines. The CubeSats will be deployed following Orion separation from the upper stage and once Orion is a safe distance away. Each payload will be ejected with a spring mechanism from dispensers on the Orion stage adapter. Following deployment, the transmitters on the CubeSats will turn on, and ground stations will listen for their beacons to determine the functionality of these small satellites.

    For more information about NASA’s Journey to Mars, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/journeytomars

    For more information about CubeSats at JPL, visit:

    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/cubesat/missions/

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

    Caltech Logo
    jpl

     
  • richardmitnick 5:04 pm on December 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Cubesats,   

    From NASA: “An Unlikely Pair of Satellites” 

    NASA

    NASA

    Dec. 15, 2015
    Melissa Gaskill
    International Space Station Program Office
    NASA Johnson Space Center

    1
    Students from the University of Texas Satellite Lab work in collaboration with the Texas A&M University Satellite Lab to remove the Bevo-2 from AggieSat4 in order to upload and test their final code. Credits: Texas A&M University/ Dexter Becklund

    2
    AggieSat4, developed at Texas A&M University for the LONESTAR investigation. Credits: NASA

    3
    The completed Bevo-2 satellite ready for launch for the LONESTAR investigation. Credits: Texas A&M University/ Dexter Becklund

    4
    AggieSat4 will eject Bevo-2 as part of a demonstration of technology with applications for future space exploration. Credits: Texas A&M University

    Space research and exploration reaches across Earth’s borders and boundaries, relying on collaboration between nations, disciplines and institutions.

    So it should come as no surprise that, despite a long-standing if friendly rivalry, students from Texas A&M University and The University of Texas came together for the LONESTAR investigation.

    This collaborative effort sent a pair of satellites, AggieSat4 and Bevo-2, to the International Space Station earlier this month. The satellites will be released from the space station, where AggieSat4 will eject Bevo-2 as part of a demonstration of technology with applications for future space exploration.

    The two satellites will demonstrate communication protocols between them and with ground stations, as well as systems that allow the satellites to navigate through space and relative to each other and to orient themselves in three dimensions. Flight demonstration of these abilities, necessary for unmanned craft to be able to rendezvous and dock in space without direct human intervention, will contribute to future satellite missions as well.

    “The overall objective is to find ways for small spacecraft to join together autonomously in space,” said Dr. Helen Reed, professor of aerospace engineering and director of the AggieSat Lab at Texas A&M. “We need simple systems that will allow rendezvous and docking with little to no help from a human, which will become especially important as we venture farther out into space. Applications could include in-space assembly or reconfiguration of larger structures or systems as well as servicing and repair.”

    Small satellites are less expensive to build and investigators can more easily find space on rocket launches to send them into orbit, but it does take creative thinking to design a functioning satellite with smaller volume and less power. Bevo-2 is 13.3 inches long, 5.3 inches high and 5.3 inches wide, about the size of a loaf of bread. AggieSat4 measures 24 by 24 by 12 inches, slightly larger than a piece of carry-on luggage. Together the satellites weigh 114 pounds.

    The satellites were independently developed by student teams at the two universities. Both teams were responsible for development plans for their satellite and had to meet established mission objectives. This required the teams to perform all stages of a project life cycle, including project management, development of design requirements and interface control documents between the two satellites, fabrication and testing, integration of hardware and software and systems verification.

    “It is all part of enhancing the student experience by having them in a real–world development project,” said Darryl May, LONESTAR project manager and senior technical advisor in the Aeroscience and Flight Mechanics Division, Johnson Space Center.

    This hands-on experience for students in designing, building and flying spacecraft is an important aspect of the investigation. It is also good, Reed pointed out, for students to learn to work closely with other organizations.

    “That is the way it works in industry, with multiple entities involved,” Reed said. “It’s been a good collaboration, we’ve really enjoyed it and are thankful that NASA came up with the idea. The students have realized they have to work together and both craft have to work for the system to be successful.”

    Dr. Glenn Lightsey, professor of aerospace engineering and head of the Texas Spacecraft Laboratory at The University of Texas, explained that it takes a lot of coordination for two spacecraft to share information and base their actions on the information they receive from each other.

    “I have heard our two satellites described as ‘space tourists’ who will be taking pictures of each other and sending those pictures back to Earth,” he added.

    Flight performance data from the investigation will indicate the readiness of technology development for autonomous rendezvous and docking objectives on future missions.

    May explains that the work has four different objectives: controlling the attitude or orientation of the craft in three dimensions, navigation performance, communications and thruster performance. “The next step will be to actually perform an autonomous rendezvous and docking,” he said

    That step, of course, will also require a lot of collaboration.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:21 pm on December 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Cubesats,   

    From U Colorado: “Tiny satellites, big opportunity” 

    U Colorado

    University of Colorado Boulder

    December 3, 2015
    No writer credit

    1
    No image credit

    From the moment he arrived at the University of Colorado Boulder, Colden Rouleau wanted to make a difference in aerospace engineering technology. He didn’t have to wait long.

    Rouleau, a first-year PhD student in CU-Boulder’s Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences (AES), is one of over 40 students who helped design and build the Miniature X-ray Solar Spectrometer (MinXSS), a tiny cube satellite measuring roughly the size of a loaf of bread and weighing about as much as a gallon of milk.

    2
    MinXSS family of cubesats

    The MinXSS, which launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Dec. 3, will study how powerful electromagnetic emissions from the sun impact the Earth’s atmosphere, an effect known as space weather.

    And contrary to the notion that satellite building is only for pros, the MinXSS was built by AES students in collaboration with researchers at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). The mission continues a successful tradition of CU-Boulder students designing and flying CubeSats, including the Colorado Student Space Weather Experiment, which launched in September 2012.

    “I came to the University of Colorado Boulder to tie science and engineering together and it’s amazing how much I’ve gotten to do already,” said Rouleau. “CubeSats are going to revolutionize how we do science in space.”

    Over the past two decades, CU-Boulder has become a world leader in the development of CubeSats, which are low-cost, short lifespan satellites built to take specific scientific observations and measurements.

    “We have a wonderful asset in the Aerospace Engineering Sciences department here at the University of Colorado Boulder,” said Scott Palo, a professor and associate dean for research in AES. “It’s a top-ranked program, ranked tenth by U.S. News and World Report and third by the National Research Council. The students who come in to work on CubeSats get tremendous experience doing hands-on work, designing and building hardware.”

    Industry collaborations

    The MinXSS mission is just the latest example of CU-Boulder’s commitment to advancing CubeSat technology through productive partnerships with industry and government.

    For example, CubeSats don’t have propulsion systems of their own, so they need to hitch a ride to space. Enter United Launch Alliance (ULA), which will give the MinXSS a ride to the International Space Station (ISS) via one of its Atlas V rockets. In November, the Centennial, Colorado-based ULA announced that CU-Boulder will also receive a free CubeSat ride to space in 2017 as part of the aerospace company’s new initiative to make CubeSat launches more affordable and accessible to academic institutions nationwide.

    Another collaboration comes via Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT), a Boulder, Colorado-based aerospace company founded by CU-Boulder graduate George Stafford. To keep itself orientated toward the Sun correctly, the MinXSS will incorporate an XACT attitude determination and control system built by BCT.

    “The collaboration between BCT and CU-Boulder is great for both sides,” said Matt Carton, an engineer at Blue Canyon Technologies and a CU-Boulder graduate. “It has been a dream come true to continue to work with my old colleagues, through BCT, on MinXSS and the design of future CubeSats.”

    The MinXSS will be the first CubeSat to use the full XACT system and there are approximately 10 other CubeSats planning to launch in 2016 with an XACT onboard, said Carton.

    Once delivered to the ISS, the MinXSS CubeSat will be deployed into space in January 2016 and operate for up to 12 months. CubeSat deployments from the ISS via a specially designed CubeSat deployer are made possible through a Space Act Agreement between NASA and NanoRacks LLC.

    All in all, it adds up to a successful aerospace engineering program that will only continue to grow.

    “CU-Boulder is recognized as a leader in CubeSat development,” said James Mason, a graduate researcher at LASP and a co-investigator on the MinXSS project. “The mass, volume, power, schedule and cost constraints of CubeSats have pushed us to develop new techniques, new technologies and a new mentality for working on satellites.”

    As a student on the front lines of this CubeSat revolution, Rouleau is grateful for the chance to dive in. “CU-Boulder has given me the opportunity to make significant contributions on flight-ready projects immediately,” he said. “I’m getting the hands-on experience I need to be successful going forward.”

    See the full article here .

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    U Colorado Campus

    As the flagship university of the state of Colorado, CU-Boulder is a dynamic community of scholars and learners situated on one of the most spectacular college campuses in the country. As one of 34 U.S. public institutions belonging to the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU) – and the only member in the Rocky Mountain region – we have a proud tradition of academic excellence, with five Nobel laureates and more than 50 members of prestigious academic academies.

    CU-Boulder has blossomed in size and quality since we opened our doors in 1877 – attracting superb faculty, staff, and students and building strong programs in the sciences, engineering, business, law, arts, humanities, education, music, and many other disciplines.

    Today, with our sights set on becoming the standard for the great comprehensive public research universities of the new century, we strive to serve the people of Colorado and to engage with the world through excellence in our teaching, research, creative work, and service.

     
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