|The joy of tiiiiiiny satellites
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
(Writing credit shared with flexagain.)
This is the week of satellite launches! The most high profile was NASA's MAVEN launch. MAVEN is now on a 10-month journey to Mars, where it will study the Martian atmosphere and its interaction with the solar wind. However, it’s worth noting that no less than sixty-four (64) small satellites are due to be launched this week.
The ISS should be deploying four (4) of them yesterday and today, using the Japanese Experiment Module’s Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (JEM, J-SSOD), as has been used successfully before.
Twenty eight (28) will be launched on a Minotaur 1 today part of the US’s Educational Launch of Nano-satellites (which CINEMA-1 was part of), and which has 7 P-PODs*.
Thirty two (32) will be launched on the Dnepr on Thursday including CINEMA-2 and 3, mounted on a complicated assortment of launch systems. There are nine ISIPODs (including 6 3U satellites, of which two are CINEMAs!), three X-PODs, two PEPPODs, a few standalone primary and secondary payloads, and Unisat-5, which will deploy a satellite which will itself then deploy another satellite! (a veritable Russian Doll of spacecraft).
Supposedly the Dnepr launch will be shown live on the following South African website. We presume one of the spacecraft is from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, whose website this is: http://live.cput.ac.za/live.html.
Here in the lab, we’re excited about all this not least because we built the tiny magnetoresistive magnetometers, called MAGIC, that are aboard the CINEMA-2 and -3 CubeSat spacecraft. We received data from the MAGIC unit on the CINEMA-1 spacecraft, which brought the new sensor to TRL 9**, and we’re keen to see the feat repeated.
* P-POD stands for Poly-PicoSatellite Orbital Deployer. They are the delivery capsule for CubeSats, since each CubeSat is 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm. Each P-POD can hold three single-unit CubeSats. Or, in the case of CubeSats like CINEMA, one three-unit CubeSat (30 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm). The other PODs are similar satellite deployment devices.
** TRL 9 is the highest level of technology readiness: demonstrating that your instrument works in-flight.
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