Four of the 90 CubeSats selected by NASA that recently launched 1 CUNYSAT1 2 IPEX 3 MCubed2 4 FIREBIRD

UPDATE: Student-Built CubeSats Continue To Take Flight

Feb. 24, 2014
Another round of CubeSats under NASA’s education initiative range from satellites that will measure ionospheric density disturbances to ones that will validate new payload technologies.

NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellite (ElaNa) missions, which are conducted under the CubeSat Launch Initiative, give students and teachers hands-on experience developing flight hardware. While providing a low-cost research avenue, the cube-shaped miniature satellites give students and teachers a chance to address a variety of space as well as science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) missions. Since the program’s inception in 2010, over 90 satellites have been selected—including these four CubeSats launched as part of the fifth ElaNa mission.

Each of the four student-built satellites will gather information for its own specific mission. CUNYSAT-1, developed by students at Medgar Evers College (New York), will investigate ionospheric density disturbances by measuring GPS signal changes. In contrast, the Intelligent Payload Experiment (IPEX) satellite, which was created by students at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology, will help to validate various intelligent-payload-module (IPM) technologies. This includes downlink operations, automated ground operations, and autonomous on-board instrument processing.

The Multipurpose Mini-satellite (M-Cubed-2) from students at the University of Michigan will obtain mid-resolution color imagery of the Earth’s surface. Because it carries the JPL-developed CubeSat On-board Processing Validation Experiment, it also will test next-generation technology for real-time, high-data-rate instrument processing. (This is the second M-Cubed satellite, as the original unintentionally become attached to another CubeSat after launch and lost the ability to transmit data.)

The final cubesat in this launch is dubbed FIREBIRD, which is short for Focused Investigations of Relativistic Electron Burst, Intensity, Range and Dynamic. It was developed by students at Montana State University and the University of New Hampshire. FIREBIRD’s goal is to help provide insight into acceleration and loss processes in the outer Van Allen Radiation Belt.

NASA recently announced the fifth round of CubeSat mission candidates—16 satellites from nine states that will fly as auxiliary payloads throughout 2015, 2016, and 2017. Organizations sponsoring the CubeSats include Boston University, Brown University, the University of California, the University of Michigan, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, and the Aerospace Corp., among others.

Each CubeSat measures approximately 4 in. on each side, has a volume of about 1 qt., and weighs less than 3 lbs. These four CubeSats follow 11 other student-built satellites, which were launched in December 2013 as part of the initiative under ElaNA’s fourth mission. At that point, PhoneSat 2.4 also was launched to test the use of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components in spacecraft for extended periods of time. Another call for CubeSat proposals will be announced by NASA in mid-August 2014.

About the Author

Iliza Sokol | Associate Digital Editor

Iliza joined the Penton Media group in 2013 after graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a BS in Advertising and Marketing Communications. Prior to joining the staff, she worked at NYLON Magazine and a ghostwriting firm based in New York.

Sponsored Recommendations

Wideband MMIC LNA with Bypass

June 6, 2024
Mini-Circuits’ TSY-83LN+ wideband, MMIC LNA incorporates a bypass mode feature to extend system dynamic range. This model operates from 0.4 to 8 GHz and achieves an industry leading...

Expanded Thin-Film Filter Selection

June 6, 2024
Mini-Circuits has expanded our line of thin-film filter topologies to address a wider variety of applications and requirements. Low pass and band pass architectures are available...

Mini-Circuits CEO Jin Bains Presents: The RF Engine of the 21st Century

June 6, 2024
In case you missed Jin Bains' inspiring keynote talk at the inaugural IEEE MTT-S World Microwave Congress last week, be sure to check out the session recording, now available ...

Selecting VCOs for Clock Timing Circuits A System Perspective

May 9, 2024
Clock Timing, Phase Noise and Bit Error Rate (BER) Timing is critical in digital systems, especially in electronic systems that feature high-speed data converters and high-resolution...