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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Crazy Engineering: CubeSats

Crazy Engineering: CubeSats

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Saturday, March 16, 2019/Categories: video, space science, art and design, environment, adventure

                              CubeSat Design (credit: JPL)

A new type of satellite is being developed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at CalTech. Called CubeSats, these small, remote-sensing robots will carry a single, dedicated environmental monitoring or planetary objective. While small, CubeSats will maintain high performance standards. According to Lab, the solar-powered CubeSats are even more capable than earlier previous generations of larger Earth monitoring spacecraft. They are just miniaturized to conduct a single task.

Many of the Lab's planetary missions have one thing in common: tight weight, volume, and power use requirements. The super-creative, 'out-of-the-box' CalTech engineers have built a variety of new sensors and instruments into individual CubeSat designs including: infrared spectrometers, micro-GPS, compact radiometers, short wavelength radars, cameras, magnetometers, and other radio equipment. With each of these micro-satellites a specific environmental, physical, or chemical measurement can be made. One of the first demonstrations was recently launched aboard NASA's InSight mission to study the interior makeup of Mars. The larger "mother" spacecraft carried two twin CubeSats called MARCO (Mars Cube One). If the MARCO is successful, CubeSat technology will provide the ability to rapidly transmit information about InSight as it lands on Mars.

Mike Meacham, a JPL mechanical engineer, offers a new episode of his Crazy Engineering series to explain these powerful new satellites and their potential utility. 

Such creativity isn't so 'crazy engineering' after all when you consider the valuable data that will soon be beamed back in real-time when they go into general use.



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