Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA's Micro-Satellites Complete Technology Validation Mission

Date:
July 5, 2006
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
NASA's three orbiting micro-satellites known as Space Technology 5 have completed their planned 90-day mission. The mission primarily focused on flight testing miniaturized satellites in the harsh environment of space and evaluating their ability to make research-quality scientific measurements.

Artist's concept of the ST5 spacecraft.
Credit: Image NASA

NASA's three orbiting micro-satellites known as Space Technology 5 have completed their planned 90-day mission. The mission team is shutting down the spacecraft to conclude operations on Friday, June 30.

The mission primarily focused on flight testing miniaturized satellites in the harsh environment of space and evaluating their ability to make research-quality scientific measurements.

The satellites were launched on March 22. Each fully fueled satellite weighed approximately 55 pounds when launched and is about the size of a 13-inch television.

A major milestone of the mission was reached when the spacecraft assumed a constellation formation on May 24. The satellites lined up in nearly identical orbits, like three pearls on a necklace, approximately 220 miles apart. Reaching formation required seven maneuvers using miniaturized micro-thrusters. Each spacecraft has a single micro-thruster the size of a quarter to perform both attitude- and orbit-adjustment maneuvers.

The mission demonstrated the benefits of using a constellation of spacecraft to perform scientific studies of the beautiful auroral displays that occur near Earth's polar regions. The spacecraft simultaneously traversed electric current sheets and measured the magnetic field using miniature magnetometers.

"Taking measurements at the same time in different locations allowed scientists to better estimate the thickness of current sheets and how they vary over time," said Guan Le, mission project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "This could not have been done with a single spacecraft, no matter how capable."

The mission validation team demonstrated the sensitivity of miniature magnetometers, and suitability of the satellites for supporting scientific measurements. Over the next few months, the team will process the mission's magnetometer data, complete its assessments of the performance of the satellite constellation and report initial findings.

The mission also demonstrated an innovative communications technology. The satellites used miniature spacecraft radio transponders for space-to-ground communications and tracking. The transponders were coupled with conventional and computer-optimized or -evolved antennas. The transponders and antennas performed flawlessly.

The satellites' miniature power system demonstrated a high level of performance. All spacecraft lithium ion batteries stayed above 90 percent charge, even during some tests intentionally designed to use them. The high-efficiency solar arrays on all three spacecraft produced more power than predicted prior to launch, and their batteries performed to expectations.

During the final days of the mission, the emphasis was on demonstrating ground system technologies. The ground system is highly automated to reduce the cost of operating multiple spacecraft as a single constellation rather than operating them individually. This type of ground system will help pave the way for an affordable means of simultaneously flying from 10 to hundreds of micro-satellites.

The project was developed and tested at Goddard. It is part of the New Millennium Program, which develops and tests high-payoff technologies that provide future science mission capabilities with reduced cost and risk. Each flight acts as a test track for competitively-selected technologies, mission objectives and operations concepts. New Millennium is managed for NASA by the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "NASA's Micro-Satellites Complete Technology Validation Mission." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 July 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060705091251.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2006, July 5). NASA's Micro-Satellites Complete Technology Validation Mission. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060705091251.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "NASA's Micro-Satellites Complete Technology Validation Mission." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060705091251.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) — Numerous residents along the East Coast reported seeing a bright meteor flash through the sky Sunday night. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Picks Boeing and SpaceX to Ferry Astronauts

NASA Picks Boeing and SpaceX to Ferry Astronauts

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — NASA is a giant step closer to launching Americans again from U.S. soil. It has announced it has picked Boeing and SpaceX to transport astronauts to the International Space Station in the next few years. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA to Resume Human Space Flight, Focus on Mars

NASA to Resume Human Space Flight, Focus on Mars

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 16, 2014) — NASA awards contracts to Boeing and SpaceX to ferry astronauts to the international space station, saying the move will allow the space agency to focus on more ambitious missions like sending humans to Mars. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins