NASA Space Launch System Will Carry 13 CubeSats In 2018

Posted: Feb 3 2016, 4:42am CST | by , in Latest Science News


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NASA Space Launch System will Carry 13 CubeSats in 2018
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
  • CubeSat to be set Adrift into Outer Space via NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS)

The first CubeSat is to be set adrift into the depths of outer space via NASA’s SLS. The Space Launch System will see to it that the space station which is about the size of a cereal box will reach its destination.

As large as a pillow, the CubeSat is to travel in space as NASA’s first replica of a space station. It will examine the particles and magnetic fields of the sun.

The CubeSat is called CuSP and will go on a piggyback ride on NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System). The time period in which this will be an accomplished fact is the year 2018.

When the CubeSat is ejected into outer space, it will begin orbiting the sun. It will take measurements such as the total incoming radiation from the sun’s surface. It is a well known fact that such radiation disrupts satellites and grid stations not to mention radio equipment on earth.

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

“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 13 small satellites – payloads that will advance our knowledge about deep space with minimal cost.”

CuSP will interpret the data long before it has had a chance to reach the earth. This could help us get a handle on the weather conditions in space thereby allowing us to make improvements in our simulations here on earth.

CuSP is approximately six units in volume which means it could hold six liters of fluid. The small satellite will be carrying three separate technologies on board.

The observations made via these technologies will allow us to gain a greater appreciation of our surrounding space atmosphere. How the sun controls the energy dynamics of the various planets will be closely monitored via this micro-satellite.

The sun releases solar wind. Among this lie CMEs or coronal mass ejections. When these CMEs reach earth, they lead to geomagnetic storms. This has a negative effect on the man-made technological facilities on our planet.

By tracking the sun and its effects on its surroundings, scientists can gain greater insight into the workings of Mother Nature all the better to predict some things and be prepared for them.

Most of the satellites currently orbiting the earth send back data that is insufficient for research purposes. More instrumental technologies need to be launched into space to bridge the gap between knowledge and ignorance.

CubeSats are relatively economical and handy for these objectives. As for the instruments on board the CubeSat, they will include: a Suprathermal Ion Spectrograph, a Miniaturized Electron and Proton Telescope and a Vector Helium Magnetometer.

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