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Cosmic Hot Interstellar Plasma Spectrometer satellite (CHIPSat)
CHIPSat 3D image
Artist's impression of the CHIPSat spacecraft
Mission typeAstronomy
COSPAR ID2003-002B
SATCAT no.27643
Mission durationFinal: 5 years, 3 months
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerSpaceDev Inc
Launch mass~ 64 kg (141 lb)
Dry mass~ 40 kg (88 lb)
Dimensions5 m × 2.8 m × 3.2 m (16.4 ft × 9.2 ft × 10.5 ft)
Start of mission
Launch date13 January 2003, 01:45 UTC (2003-01-13UTC01:45Z)[1]
RocketDelta II
Launch siteVandenberg SLC 2W
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Semi-major axis6,919 kilometres (4,299 mi)[2]
Perigee altitude528 kilometres (328 mi)[2]
Apogee altitude554 kilometres (344 mi)[2]
Inclination94.05 degrees[2]
Period95.5 minutes[2]
Epoch17 Feb 2020 21:02:45 UTC[2]

CHIPSat (Cosmic Hot Interstellar Plasma Spectrometer satellite, also just CHIPS) is a now-decommissioned, but still-orbiting, microsatellite. It was launched on January 12, 2003 from Vandenberg Air Force Base aboard a Delta II with the larger ICESat, and had an intended mission duration of one year. CHIPSat was the first of NASA's University-Class Explorers (UNEX) mission class and it was also known as Explorer 82. It performed spectroscopy from 90 to 250 angstroms (9 to 26 nm), extreme ultraviolet light.[3]

The primary objective of the science team, led by Principal Investigator Mark Hurwitz, was to study the million-degree gas in the local interstellar medium. CHIPSat was designed to capture the first spectra of the faint, extreme ultraviolet glow that is expected to be emitted by the hot interstellar gas within about 300 light-years of the Sun, a region often referred to as the Local Bubble. Surprisingly, these measurements produced a null result, with only very faint EUV emissions detected, despite theoretical expectations of much stronger emissions.

It was the first U.S. mission to use TCP/IP for end-to-end satellite operations control.

The University of California, Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory served as CHIPSat's primary groundstation and manufactured the CHIPS spectrograph, designed to perform all-sky spectroscopy. Other ground network support was provided by groundstations at Wallops Island, Virginia and Adelaide, Australia. CHIPSat's spacecraft platform was manufactured by SpaceDev.

In September 2005 the spacecraft was converted to a solar observatory.[4] From April 3, 2006 to April 5, 2008 CHIPsat performed 1458 observations of the Sun.[5]

Satellite operations were terminated in April 2008.

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  • Dave Korsmeyer: "Big Numbers for Small Missions: NASA's Future with Cubesats" | Talks at Google


FEMALE SPEAKER: Thanks for coming to one of the latest of our talks for our NASA series. Today we have Dr. Dave Korsmeyer. Am I saying it correctly? He mentioned when we walked in that he probably used to work with 20 to 30 current Googlers. So you may know him already. Dave is the director of engineering at NASA Ames. He was previously the chief of NASA Ames Intelligent Systems Division. He led the near-Earth object mission concept studies for NASA, directly supported President Obama's 2009 human space flight review, and was part of the human space flight architecture teams technology panel. Dave received his BS in aerospace engineering from Penn State, his MS and Ph.D. in astrodynamics from the University of Texas at Austin. We got some fans back here. That's a lot of schooling. DAVE KORSMEYER: Couldn't get enough. FEMALE SPEAKER: Dave is also a Sloan fellow with a master's in Business Management from Stanford Graduate School of Business. Without further ado, here is Dave Korsmeyer. After, we're going to leave some time for questions. And we do ask that you use the microphone over here when you ask the question, so people on the live stream can hear. Thank you. DAVE KORSMEYER: Thank you, Mary. Appreciate it. Yeah, I am addicted to schooling. So just that's my own personal foible, with apologies. Thanks everybody, for showing up. I'm either your afternoon, after lunch talk or your after lunch nap. If you're going to nap, do it quietly. Drool with the best of intentions. What I'm going to talk to you about today is these little babies, to some degree. And let's start, because I find hands-on stuff gives you something to do. Take a look at these, pass them around, and then occasionally listen to what I'm saying. What's going on is actually a disruption in my industry. My industry is aerospace, is space missions in particular. And what we've got is we've got a new-- not so new, but new to NASA form factor called CubeSats. And what exactly is it CubeSat? We used to call them nanosats. And then that just didn't sound cool enough, so everybody calls them CubeSats. It actually came out as a university concept. Stanford and Cal Poly came up with it. 1U is a 10 centimeter by 10 centimeter by 10 centimeter cube. Think four inches square, for those of you still on imperial. And that qualifies as a U, a unit. So if you look on your left, you got 1U. That's what you're holding right now. And 3U is linear, three of them put together. 6U is a 2 by 3 by 1 box. Think of a toaster oven. Those are the common denominator sizes for what we call CubeSats these days. So even though a 6U is 6U, we still call it a CubeSat. You see why I like nanosat, but I'm not the guy that gets to set these things. You'll notice as you pass these around also, the weight the comparable weight of these things-- the one over here on the side is probably about a full kilo and a half. That's probably about 500 grams. So the range of these is, we'll pack them as dense as we can, because it is actually the volume that is constraining us. And I'll tell you a little bit why about that in a minute. So when you think of NASA and you think of mission types, I came across this analogy and I kind of like it. There's three types. There's the grandfather clock, which is big and fancy, elegant, expansive, handcrafted. You have to have a team of experts, takes years to build, takes experts to repair. Think of the International Space Station. Manned missions are like that. We can do them. They're beautiful. They're phenomenal. Everyone wants them in their house. Few people can afford it. Then we get Swiss clocks. Those are those cool things that sit on your parents' mantle. They're nice. They're very expensive. They're handcrafted, built by a bunch of really sharp people off in Switzerland, do great things. They also are very expensive, but are smaller and more efficient. Think of our robotic science. Think of the Mars Rovers for that. Now that traditionally has been what NASA has been able to do. That's what we do. There is again, this disruption. We're getting into the point where the available commercial-grade, consumer-grade technologies are able to fulfill space missions for us, now at a much greatly reduced cost, which means we can do a lot more of them. And that's the quartz watches. Think the Swatch. If you guys are young or old enough to remember that, I do, unfortunately. Mass-produced. Now I know nobody has watches. I could have said the cell phone. It would have been just fine. I probably will change it out. But they have actually much more limited functionality, where the functionality is enabled on software versus actual hardware. And you can mass-produce them to some degree, or they are availably made out of mass-produced components. And that's what CubeSats are. And that's what they're supposed to be. And NASA is coming to terms with, what are we going to do with that? Because it's a different model, a different perspective for how we've done space exploration in the past. One of the things we have done is we've created a thing called the CubeSat Launch Initiative. This actually started as an educational outreach model where, as I said, this form factor came out of the university basis. Sounds good. You're going to build a satellite. Wonderful! You put that together in some senior design class or graduate degree class, or whatever you've done. Now what? How do you get it into space? Are you going to build your own launch vehicle? OK. That's still a little bit harder than the average bear can pull off. So what happens is, it turns out that there's a bunch of agencies, DoD being one, NASA being a huge one are intelligent agencies and commercial launch that launch into space all the time. There's launches every couple weeks, actually. If you go online, you can just Google it and you'll see that there literally are launches all the time. The interesting thing about those launches is they aren't full. Why? Because you're designing these big spacecraft, either commercial telecom bird that's relaying the internet around or dish or whatever, or exploration missions that we've got on NASA, and you design with a 10% or 15% percent margin. Because you really don't know what's going to happen. So what happens when you've delivered to the pad, you end up and you've got this big faring, and you've got this little teeny spacecraft. And you've got this big launch rocket. And you've got this little teeny spacecraft. And you probably got a couple tens to hundreds to thousands of kilograms of extra mass you could throw into space, and several cubic meters of space you could throw into space-- of volume, I mean, you could throw up into space. So what they came up with was the idea that by standardizing on this form factor, you could create little dispensers that you would mount in the launch vehicles and they would be called secondary payloads. And so you would just show up. The big launcher would show up, the big spacecraft would show up, and the university student would show up with their small satellite and say, OK-- not literally the day of, but six months ahead, say-- and say, OK, I want to ride. I know mine is this size, is this volume, behaves in this way, and you can stick it in your launcher. And after you deploy the main satellite, you can pop this off. So it's a free ride. That worked so well, this CubeSat Launch Initiative has basically started signing up people started in 2009, and has been progressively going. As I said, it's a simple matter of, you design the spacecraft, you build it, this dispenser here is called a peapod. It can handle up to three-- this one right here can handle up to three 1U CubeSats. The 1U CubeSats are just that. They're kind of toys. By the time you put in any instrumentation or any actual tools that are of value to the engineering or science or technological community, you really need like 3U of volume, which is, say, a small toaster. And we're getting to a point where we're commonly flying 6U of volume, which is a toaster oven. So you put it in the known dispenser, which has already got all the mountings, you launch it off. It deploys once in space. And then students or a NASA center can communicate with the spacecraft and get the science or technology demonstration or engineering done. It became a very viable model. Now what happened is the students and universities started doing that and were doing great stuff. They were getting really good technical papers out of it. And frankly, the NASA guys said, hey, there's something going on here. Look at all these people that are making use of it. We've got from 2009 to 2014, we did, I think, six CLSI selections. And we made 114 selections for 114 different satellite systems at universities that are going to deploy, and lined them up and told them when they're going to fly. And so they're off and running. NASA decided, well, there's something wrong with that. We're missing out. Because look at the numbers. There's a huge number of proposals, 150, but we select over 2/3 of them, 109. We've only flown a fifth of them right now, say, or a third of those selected, 34, and we've got another 14 manifested. So there's a lot coming online. There's a lot happening. And we realized that we're not alone. This is a different view. Again, forgive. It's a NASA chart, so there's acronyms everywhere. Take the following out of it. The rightmost column here is the number of CubeSats being deployed as a secondary, as extra volume on a mainline mission. The CLSI moniker here are the ones that NASA helped sponsor. The other ones, like, say International Space Station which has got NanoRacks, a commercial company that kind of spun out of doing some NASA business now launches 28 CubeSats a pop. Actually, more than 28. 48 CubeSats a pop on their dispenser up off of the International Space Station. So there's a huge volume that doesn't come through NASA. It goes up through other means on other launch vehicles and does excellent work. Now again, what does this give you? Why would NASA care about something like this? It's supposed to be an educational activity. Something that trains up engineers and scientists. It's STEM. Why does NASA care? Well, turns out we stumbled across, there's really easy frequent access to space-- a lot more than people think. Getting a launch, I can get anybody who wants to build a CubeSat here launched in six months to a year. Not a problem. I can get you a ride. Very easy, frequent access to space. It gives you the ability to basically rapidly respond to a mission you want to do. Right now, if you do a mainline NASA mission, or a mainline NOAA weather mission, or a DoD something, you're starting on a three to five year journey. Hands down. Easy. And that's after you've won the proposal. It's going to take you three to five years to actually put together the science, the spacecraft, do all your design, all your engineering, all your analysis, go through the long paperwork process that will pretty much guarantee you a successful mission. But it's going to take you five years. You're biting a big hunk of your life on any given mission. If you just want to do some quick and dirty analysis, do some easy measurements, do some rapid response-type technology demonstrations, this is tremendously much more interesting. Because we're talking a cycle time of say 18 to 36 months, maybe 1 and 1/2 to 3 years of the whole life cycle, of coming up with the idea, of flying it, and then getting the analysis back. A lot quicker time cycle. If you want to re-fly it, we've done re-flights in six months, where we've designed, built it, flown it, went, it didn't work quite right, changed a piece on backup hardware, rebuilt it again, flown it again. So we get a very rapid response. And frankly, these are relatively low-cost missions. Now again, I work for the government, so relatively low cost missions is just that. It's on the order of a million or two. Sometimes $10 million for the non-recurring engineering, if you're designing something for the first time. For a university, though, they can build a $50K to $100K. Now that's a lot for a university, I yield. But they can build that class of a spacecraft, get it launched in somebody's masters degree program, get the data back, and allow them to graduate. That's pretty impressive. And then you actually get a whole class of people out to graduate. So what happened is, NASA woke up to this. Aviation Week, which is one of those great trade magazines that is particular to my genre, came out and said, whoa, look out, small satellites doing more with less. You notice this small one right here is one we built at NASA Ames. We actually deployed it. It was the first US CubeSat deployed off of the space station. And we just did that back in 2012. October 4, 2012 we deployed it. So what NASA's doing is realizing, this is an opportunity to do different things and different form factors for less. Now what's NASA's mission? Just to rehash for you people that don't read our strategic plan every day. We're here to do science. We're here to do technology development. We're here to do exploration of the solar system. And we're here to do, basically, public outreach-- STEM, science technology education, engineering and math. That's part of what our-- your tax dollars are doing. That's why you're paying me to do this. It turns out that NASA Ames, fortuitously, we were the first one to jump on this bandwagon, in part because we're one of the smaller research centers, in part because we had some people that worked with the Stanford and Cal Poly groups that came up with this standard, and in part because we were just lucky. Dumb luck. So right now, we actually lead NASA as an agency in doing small and nanosat missions. And you'll see that we're actually getting into more and more of it as time goes on. One of the things you can see from this chart, it was a slow start. And again, NASA vernacular is, we all have to come up with a cool name. And CubeSat semantics means you have to have "Sat" at the end of your name, with apologies. So we have GeneSat and PharmaSat. NanoSail-- there's a sale involved, right? OK. You can kind of get all these, TechEdSat, KickSat, EcAMSat. We started out slow. 2006 was the first peer-reviewed science publication satellite that NASA did. Now why does that matter? NASA is a science and engineering organization. Our reason for existing is promulgating good science and engineering about aerospace science, space technology, et cetera. What says that something is of value is having a published paper in a peer-reviewed journal. That's what matters. For other people it's money. For NASA, our currency is citations. Google Scholar's great. Go find your citations. That's what we live on. So getting peer-reviewed, publishable science out of small CubeSats has been a huge change for NASA. And it's been a huge change for the rest of the US government space industry. So we're doing a whole bunch-- you can see as time goes by, we're paying out more and more and more. My organization is the engineering organization at NASA Ames. And that's pretty much what we spend our time doing. This and larger small satellites, like LADEE and LCROSS and other things that have recently been around the moon. So let me tell you about some of the different areas of particular scientific and engineering interests that we're involved in, that are making use of, again, this form factor. One of the things we work on specifically at NASA Ames is space biology. Now what's the difference between life sciences and space biology? OK. Let me tell you. When we say life sciences, normally in NASA we talk about how the astronauts work and breathe and do great stuff on the International Space Station. That's great. That's kind of being a medical doctor, tracking them, finding clinically what makes them good, how to manage their allergies in space, or whatever. Space biology is actually understanding the function of how a biological system operates in microgravity, zero gravity and a high radiation environment. Again, why do we care about that? Well, guess what? We are in the best possible protective bubble you could ever imagine here on the planet Earth. We've got this great big rock underneath us that gives us the gravity. we've got this wonderful, thick-- not that thick, but relatively thick atmospheric shell, and we've got a molten core of a planet that is spinning to give us this huge magnetic bubble, so that we are protected from all the alpha and beta particles-- most of them, anyway-- that come flying out of the sun and coming from the cosmic background radiation. It turns out we're a great place for life to exist. Go look outside. It's a beautiful day, lots of life. Do we know-- this is a question. This is a quiz. You can know the answer, right? Do we know whether life can exist elsewhere? Do we know? Anybody? Anybody? All right. I'll leave it for the people online to vote. No, we don't know. We suspect, absolutely. But we do not know. What we do know is that we can do two things. We can send people to the moon for about seven days and they won't croak immediately. And we can have six astronauts live in orbit for about a year long, and they won't croak immediately. Do we know that you can put up a plant and have it actually grow, flower, fertilize the flower, drop a seed, germinate, and grow another plant? Guess what? We don't know. We don't know that. Do we know that we can send out brewer's yeast out past the Earth's magnetic bubble and the yeast will actually propagate-- grow, live, die, and create all that lovely yeasty smell you get when you make bread. Do we know that? No, we don't know that. We know so incredibly little about how life will actually exist outside of our protective bubble. This is why we do this. So it turns out nanosats were made for this. CubeSats were made for this. These are perfect. We do these little things, basically, like, about this big. Little, micro-fluidic systems, little pumps, little wells, little drip lines. Of course we have to adapt to the fact that you're in zero g or micro g. And all of these systems are custom-built to basically grow different types of bacteria, different types of yeast, sea monkeys, you name it. We've done it, and we're doing it all. Spores-- we have this little, spinning, zero g, artificial variable g disk that does spore things. We do e. coli stuff. Great things, fascinating science, and because it's so poorly understood, a wonderful venue for us to do exploration activities. And it works out really well that the CubeSats, which-- please don't take them home; give them back to me-- are really a good venue and a good opportunity to do this science in. One of the other areas we work on is we've got this really big, expensive, fancy, multi-billion dollar system up there called Space Station. We just gave it the thumbs-up for another five years. Probably it will go another eight years after that. So 2020 is the baseline. We'll probably go to 2028. And then what we do? I don't know. But we've got a big space station up there. Space station has gone from being the building you built to now being the research lab you're trying to stock. So lots and lots of different science activities-- material science, biological science, some of the stuff I talked about before, life science, all sorts of things. Crystal growth, and then a whole bunch of actual space science are going on up there. It turns out one of the things that is very hard to do right now is either a, getting up to space station, or b, getting back from space station. So when you get up to space station, everyone understands that. That's hard. You gotta get on a rocket. Right now we're buying Russian stuff. We're hopefully going to buy our own stuff soon. Getting back-- how do you get something back from space? Right now, you basically can take something that's about the size of these three chairs, you cram three people in them, and you give them each about 10 kilos they can hold onto their chest. And that's how they come back. That's how the astronauts come back. That's returned. Return's what they held in their hands. So we're talking very little volume returns. And how often do they return? They return about once every six months, three to six months. So if you want something down from station, you're not going to get it. What do they do? They flash freeze it. They literally have flash freezers up there. They flash freeze it, or they just put it to the side and they wait. So there's a driving need to get what we call down mass. How to get something down from the space station? Well, it turns out again, for the mysteriously now lost CubeSats, they're a great form factor for that. We've started doing deployments off the International Space Station, and doing what we call an exobreak. An exobreak is a fancy way of saying Mary Poppins' umbrella. Right? You pop a shoot. You increase the area, and the very tenuous atmosphere up there slows you much more rapidly than if you were a small, relatively dense box. OK? So the idea is, we're going through this process to get what we call down mass on demand. It's not that sexy sounding, but that's what it is. So the idea is if astronaut gets sick, something's going on, they draw a vial of blood, they pop it in the system, they throw it overboard, it falls down and lands in your backyard. They run into the hospital and they check it out. That's the vision. That's kind of the nominal vision. It also goes for there's different companies that we've been talking to for a long period of time about doing biological testing, growing crystallography et cetera. And one of the big hangups has been, great. Now you've got my stuff. How do you get it down? There's no safe way for me to get my stuff that I did on space station down. This is a way to address that. Turns out there's some other interesting applications for that that I'll talk about later. But that's another area that Ames is deeply involved in, and doing a lot of work in. This is a nice picture, actually one of my favorite pictures of-- let's see, this one. This one is TechEdSat, which is the first US satellite that was launched out of the International Space Station. We did it at Ames. And in the background, what you see, actually, is the largest structure NASA's built, which is the International Space Station. That is one quarter of one fourth of one array that powers that International Space Station. So that's about a football field square. And that's a real picture. It's not even good Photoshop. After they deploy, they have to float in front of the array. So that's some of NASA's smallest missions with some of NASA's largest missions. Pretty cool looking stuff. What we do, actually, is there's a little airlock on the Japanese side. It's called the JEM module. What a surprise. Japanese Environmental Module, or something. And the Japanese allow everybody to make use of it. And so we load up these deployers. And the Japanese have got a robotic arm, grabs the deployer, hangs it over the side at a certain angle, and then pops it out. This was TechEdSat 3, 3P, that we actually launched just this past fall, which was the first 3U volume 3U volume, deployed from the International Space Station. And here I'm going to try-- OK. That's it. It's that exciting. But that's all it really is. There's not a gas canister, there's not a rocket engine. It's spring loaded. They take the thing, they cock it in, it latches, they put the lid down, they put a deployment pin on it. And that's where you go. Here, there's two 3U dispensers. What NanoRacks, the company, has done is they've taken 4 times 6. No, 8 times 6. They've taken 6U, linear-- so 3U and then another 3U behind it. And they've got 8 tubes. And that actually is just the right dimensions. It can also sneak through the Japanese module and hang over the side and they deploy them all at once. The first deployment of that was also this past fall. There's a company in the Bay Area called Planet Labs-- which happens to be, in part, a spin out from NASA Ames-- that is deploying a whole bunch of spacecraft off the International Space Station. So we've already been lapped, to some degree. AUDIENCE: Was that at real speed? DAVE KORSMEYER: That was real speed. That's what it looks like. It's just, pop and go. And then, believe it or not, you saw how fast it was going? The rule for NASA is you're not allowed to turn on for 45 minutes after deployment from station, because they want you way the heck away from station by the time you turn on. So they're really giving you a very clear field. But yeah, that's as fast as it goes. And you'll get pretty far in 45 minutes. So the other thing we're doing is actually the things in your hand. So the lighter one, which is again roaming around somewhere-- take a look inside. Some of you take a look inside. Who's got that one? Somebody put it down? Come on, somebody. Here. Yeah. I'm sorry? AUDIENCE: Was there a Nexus One? DAVE KORSMEYER: Yeah, exactly. So I am here at Google, right? So it turns out that one of our guys had-- several of our guys, actually-- had a clever idea. And they said, you know, a spacecraft isn't that complex. You need a little bit of a computation, you need some data handling, you need some calm capability, you need a good long-lived battery. It needs to be compact and good volume constraints, be able to handle good thermal regime, and I don't know. What do you think? And one of them went, hey-- and, I'm sorry, this was pre-these things. It was a BlackBerry. And they said, hey, we could fly a BlackBerry. Why not just fly one of these damn things, right? And yes. So we did. We took it on. You can see and hear, literally there is a Nexus S on its side. Actually, diagonal, because that was-- it just so happens to fit. I don't know if you guys did that deliberately. And then whopping load of batteries. Because it turns out International Space Station, at the time, did not allow us to fly lithium batteries. So we had to go with NiCad. So we had to strip out the battery. But literally, the screen's in here and everything else. And we've flown three of these babies. And, yeah, they work. They work. And what was the point? It was a bit of a technology stunt, but it was to make the point to the community and to NASA that you really can make use of consumer-grade, mass-produced technologies and get a decent behavior out of them. So what we did with-- after we did this one, is we did-- where's the other one? We did the PhoneSat 2. So can you see a nexus in there? No, you should not be able to. And b, you should notice that they're solar cells, all around it. What we actually did is, we cracked the case on that one. Took the screen off. We don't need it. Got down to the small board. Actually had to float the cell phone chip off, because they really didn't want that on or connected in any way, shape or form, and then wired in the rest of our avionics. That worked relatively well. Lessons learned? There's a reason that a cell phone board is in a cell phone case, because those little boards are the most fragile, touchy things in the friggin' world, right? So that's a lesson learned. They were just a pain the ass. And where did we get these Nexus S's? Anybody have an idea? We bought them mass-produced from Google? No. We went to Best Buy. And we got there early, and when they're having a big sale. And we bought a bunch of boxes. That's exactly what we did. So we flew a whole bunch of PhoneSat 1's we flew 2 Beta, which was we had it half-assed put together and we had a launch, so we just flew what we had. A 2.4 and a 2.5, don't ask why we named them that way. Some of them just went up. The latest one just went up in April. We cracked the Android kernel, did a lot of good, fun stuff to make it all work together. And we've used it also as the core for some larger CubeSats. It was functional enough that it was like, oh this kind of works. We can make use out of this. We started turning it into additional CubeSats. One of them is, you think these were disruptive, as we came up, we didn't come up with in idea. A guy at Cornell came up with these things called ChipSats. So just when you think you're safe, on the top is a PhoneSat. On the bottom is a 3D-printed deployment mechanism that we built at NASA Ames. And it's going to deploy 104 of these ChipSats, which are 2 and 1/2 centimeters by 2 and 1/2 centimeters square, which has got a little magnetometer and a little gyroscope and a little radio and a solar cell and a microcontroller. And it's going to pop these babies out. To what end, you say? Well, it turns out that one of the interesting things about space and atmospheric sciences and basically everything we do is you don't want to take a point measurement. A singular point measurement at one instance in time at one location will tell you one point. What you want is you really want a field measurement. So if you watch geologists out in the field or a biologist or someone else, they're are going to take a point here, note where they are, go over here, take a measurement, note where they are. They're going to take a field measurement to get a distribution of a bunch of measurements across a region. How you do that in space? Well, as you whip along in a round orbit, that's great. Another way is to deploy a whole bunch of sensors. This gives you as a means to deploy a bunch of very interesting sensors. And let's see if I can do this again. So when it's up there, it'll get itself stabilized after being deployed from station. A spring will release, and these babies will just pop out and drive all the space tracking people crazy. And we really did. We showed this to the-- it's called JSpOC, the Joint Strategic Program for whatever that tracks stuff. They have no idea how they're going to track stuff like that. I mean, it really is hard. Yes, sir? AUDIENCE: What is the altitude of those launches? DAVE KORSMEYER: About 425 to 450 kilometers. AUDIENCE: Quite a short lifetime. DAVE KORSMEYER: It's a very short lifetime. So you've noted one thing. How do we stop these beautiful little toys from being really annoying space junk? Number one is we launch them real low. So their lifetime is measured sometimes in weeks, at the longest maybe a year. We have launched ones that are higher, up 650, 700, 800 kilometers. They can last two, three years up there. So you have to make sure then that you've got tracking capability, because they really are so small it's hard for the radar systems that do track the stuff to actually see them. So we're actually putting little transponders on them to squawk, to tell you what's going on. But this is a great system. You can see, if you want to measure the upper atmosphere, these things literally flutter down and squawk as they go. Yes, sir? AUDIENCE: So-- DAVE KORSMEYER: You'd like to say that it doesn't, but it does. It really does. We found out as an example that the phones are highly susceptible to certain types of upsets. And they're highly susceptible to electrostatics when they're out of their box. That's why, again, they're in these lovely little boxes that are nicely shielded and grounded and everything's good. You take them out and they become much more susceptible. The thermal regimes we're talking about here are we're talking minus 100 degrees centigrade to positive 100 degrees centigrade. These things are designed really well, but not for that every 90 minutes for the entirety of their life. It wears on them. So while there's a lot of good stuff out there, I don't think you can literally buy from Best Buy and fly it and consider that a functional model. However, you can, with some minor tweaks, do some selections to the stuff you buy, test to find the very robust components that you want to make use of, and fly those. That's what we've been able to do. So here's just a picture version of it, in case the video didn't work. So another thing we're doing-- and again, we actually used the elements of the PhoneSat stuff. We built a little stability motor. It's called attitude determination control system, but these are little teeny motors that you think when a motor turns on, it gives you a little bit of torque. You put three of them perpendicular and you get a torque that control what position you're in. Instead of going out and buying expensive control motors, we actually got dental motors, the type that you get when you get a root canal. Those little motors have a lot of torque, and take a little bit of power and spin up very, very quick. We actually built a swarm of satellites. I'm a little bit embarrassed to say that this is the first actual swarm that NASA's ever done. And what's the difference, in my mind, between a swarm and a constellation? A constellation's just a number, n number of satellites that are out there. And they're all kind of the same type of satellite. That's easy. It's a constellation. You're a constellation of people. A swarm is when I talk to you and you make damn sure you talk to everybody and then report back to me. That's a swarm. So I'm treating a set as if it's a unit. What we're building is-- what we've built, actually, is a swarm. And we're doing a bunch of, basically, radio physics measurements at the upper atmosphere. We've already built them, and they're launching later this fall. Here's a picture in our labs at Ames. These are the EDSN. Don't ask what it stands for, but it's basically the Edison Demonstration of Space Networking. And we built 8 that we're going to fly. We have four back-up units. And then we built another two, just for giggles. We're going to throw off the space station about the same time just to see how it all works. But this is again, kind of like that ChipSat model I told you about, or that you just saw in the little video, except a little bit bigger. We can have more power, we can have more functionality, we can have more instrumentation. AUDIENCE: What is the yellow measuring tape for? DAVE KORSMEYER: OK. So the yellow measuring tape is-- this was discovered by the first students that actually did CubeSats. You need something that is malleable, because you want it to fit in a finite box. But you want to have a way to get, I don't know, an antenna out there. It turns out that if you look at what that yellow piece of metal is, it's actually a tape measure. We went to Home Depot, or OSH, take your pick, or Lowe's, or whoever. You buy a bunch of tape measures, you cut them up. They work phenomenally well as antenna, if you cut them to the right size. And then they wrap very closely to the body of the spacecraft. And they add a little bit of extra twing when it pops out. It imparts a little torque as it goes. So even though we've replaced a lot of the other consumer-grade stuff, the Home Depot tape measures are really hard to beat when it comes to antennas. They really are. I mean, for certain types, not for everything. And so we just happened to have, on this sat, we have two antennas. And part of it is because we want to have one always pointing to ground, and one is going to be pointing, hopefully, to another one of the satellites in the swarm. OK. How do you launch these swarms, as an example? Well, I showed you and I should have really given you a better picture of it. There's these 3UP pod, what they called them, dispensers. I told you about that in the NASA launch vehicles, or any launch vehicle, you tend to have a small satellite on top of a big rocket, with a lot of extra space. Because you've designed with margin. We thought about it. We came up with this idea. We called it the nanosat launch adapter system. And really what it is, is it's this fat disk that you can just put underneath your satellite. And it sits on the disk and then the launch vehicle sits underneath it. And then within that disk, you can kind of hollow it out, and you can put these dispensers, a whole bunch on this side and a whole bunch on the other side. And I'll show you what that actually looks like. We call that the wafer, and then the blue box. That's the gold thing. The wafer's the gold thing. There's this little avionics in the dispenser that just fires a sequence to open the doors when it's appropriate. And then the blue boxes are the dispensers. And this is called the NLAS system. We actually designed this, and we released it, open source so to speak-- open design, I guess is a better model-- to any US vendor that wants to make or use these things, because that's going to increase the number of launches that are available out there. And they can create a whole economic unit of selling back and forth to each other, and we just benefit. Because now we can go out and buy a whole bunch of these, and don't have to build them ourselves. So what we're doing is, for the EDSN spacecraft in particular, we get a launch on a new, pseudo-commercial launch system called Super Strypi that AeroJet and Sandia National Laboratories are putting together. It's actually going to launch from Kauai. Yes, I meant Hawaii but the island of Kauai. It's going to launch this fall. We can fit four EDSNs, which are 1 and a half U's. So you've got the 1U you passed around. One and a half U's is 15 centimeters by 10 by 10. So two one and a halfs make three. You can put four of them in a 6U dispenser. And we could put two dispensers full of our stuff on one side of the wafer, and then the other side is being used by other groups that are making use of the launch vehicle. And then there's a mainline Hawaii sat-- what a surprise-- on the top. And that's going to launch order November of this year. And yes, I will go. So what are the next steps for NASA CubeSats? I've talked a lot about, basically, just demonstrating the capability that kind of is being engendered by universities and other groups already. I talked about how we're doing it for space biology, how we're doing it for down mass from International Space Station, how we're doing it for technical demonstrations. Some of the other things-- I leave it to the community to look at and just think about-- but one of the things we also do is we send these lovely, deep space interplanetary spacecraft out there. We send the Mars science lab, the Curiosity Rover, out to Mars a couple years ago. Do you think we did the same thing with that spacecraft like we've done with every other one, where we maybe had a little extra volume and we maybe had a little extra mass, all held in Margin Yeah, we did. And do you think on the interplanetary transfer stage that was throwing Mars Rover at Mars we also had additional volume and additional mass? Yeah, we did. Do you think we sent anything with it? No, we didn't. Why? Politics, in large part, but because people hadn't really thought of it. The standard hadn't advanced enough. The capabilities hadn't advanced enough. Now what we're talking about is as you send these spacecraft out, very expensive spacecraft with a lot of money and a lot of intellectual capability that are pretty much guaranteed to work as best NASA can make them, you send those babies out. And with the remainder mass and the remainder volume, you send a bunch of little crappy CubeSats out. Not that crappy. You send stuff out that's probably going to work, but you don't have to spend so much money to guarantee it. And you don't send one. You spread your risk. You send 10 or 15. And what do you have them do? You have them do things that are unique to deep space that you can't do elsewhere. You have them measure the space weather, which is really how the sun behaves outside of us, our one viewpoint on the planet Earth as we're moving around. You have it check with another set of interesting biological payloads. How do they behave in deep space? We don't know. We have no flipping an idea. Lots of great opportunities, and we're launching stuff out there every year or so. We're doing a mission called ARM. I don't know if you guys have heard about this. This in play right now. It's called the Asteroid Redirect Mission. This is a NASA mission that's going to go look for potentially hazardous objects, PHOs. We have to acronymize everything, which is code for a big rock that may hit the earth. And this is kind of a cartoony version of bag the asteroid and move it somewhere else, or give it a little bit of a kick. Again, you can spend a couple billion dollars on this baby to make sure it damn near does exactly what it's supposed to do, and does it to the 99th percentile. And then you send a small amount of money, sending a fleet of smaller, disposable but reliable enough, very valuable additional eyeballs to see what else you're doing from different venues to measure the broader environment around this asteroid, perhaps to measure who knows what else you're doing in the area. So this opens up a whole different set of characteristics. For the down mass device I talked about from the International Space Station, this works out to be a very interesting way to get something all the way to the surface, maybe the surface of Mars or Venus, a bunch of very small things. If you remember, we spent a lot of money, a lot of good money on Curiosity, the big one, and then on Spirit and Opportunity back in 2003. That was two and one. Why don't we send 50, all over the surface of Mars, or all over the surface of Venus? Again, they're not going to be as reliable. But we're going to-- if you lose three of the 50, you still got 47, I hope. So just to sum up, NASA is really trying to make use of this disruptive model, this CubeSat engineering capability that, if you go to any university right now, frankly, a bunch of high schools and, believe it or not, one elementary school-- I don't know how they do that-- they're building CubeSats. They really are. They're building CubeSats. And we're going to fly them. Ames turns out to be one of NASA's particular centers that's spending a lot of energy, time, money, effort, and intellectual capital to make use of these-- demonstrating what can be done, developing the technologies to make it happen, and basically managing some of the programs that allow all the other NASA centers and universities to make use of this form factor. We're looking to partner with a lot of universities, non-profits, international space agencies, and companies. And we've done so. Google bought a company recently, I believe called SkyBox. They're not CubeSats, but they're small sats. They're microsats. Same idea, that same type of technology but a little bit larger form factor. There's a lot of business going on in this area. NASA needs to figure out where we fit in this new world because of this disruptive change. I'm very excited about it. I think there's a lot of capability that will be added by us being able to do it. I think software is key here, because that is what you can add is a capability that weighs very, very little but adds great functionality. But it's a whole new world for us. And Ames is on the forefront of it. Rest of NASA's coming along. I thank you for your time. Any questions? [APPLAUSE] AUDIENCE: This is amazing. I've been really interested in this area. I'm not a rocket scientist, but a hobbyist. Have you heard of Inner Orbital? DAVE KORSMEYER: No, I haven't. AUDIENCE: It's very similar to what you presented today. There is a CubeSat that you can buy for about $10,000 to launch. There's a TubeSat. That's the lighter version of it for about $8,000. It's something that I'm really interested in building and launching in January of 2015. And I'm wondering, when you said that someone could get something like this and get, essentially, a quote unquote "free ride," how free and how cheap would something like this be, versus Inner Orbital? DAVE KORSMEYER: So I don't know what Inner Orbital does. Do they provide launches? Is that what they do? AUDIENCE: Yes, a kit and the launch. DAVE KORSMEYER: So there are a number of groups out there. There's Spaceflight, there's ISI, I know. There's NanoRacks. Sounds like there's a whole bunch more. And really, a lot of them are using the same launch vehicles and stuff NASA does. All that we've done is we've done a little bit of a bulk buy idea, where we know it's going up and we put a dibs on every launch vehicle that some fraction of that is ours. And then we sponsor groups to go up. They have to be non-profit, so educational or non-profit or something like that. We're not looking to support a profit-making capability. But it's really just a proposal process. You go to the NASA website, you find CubeSat Launch Initiative. Every six months to nine months, we release a call for proposals. You write up a proposal, you tell us what you're going to do, convince us you actually can build something that's of value, and you saw our acceptance rates on the order of 2/3. AUDIENCE: So you're saying that it's free if you get accepted? DAVE KORSMEYER: It's free if you get accepted. There's worse things. AUDIENCE: My question is about the ARM mission that you mentioned. So we are also looking at using 6U CubeSats to actually impact the asteroid as a kinetic impactor. So my question is that much can we actually deflect the asteroid by using 6U CubeSats? DAVE KORSMEYER: That's a zero. But why would we do that? Since I know where you work, I can answer that question. It's the same reason-- I don't know if you guys remember back in 2009, NASA Ames had another mission called LCROSS, Lunar Crater Observation Sensing System. Lovely acronym. We smacked into the south pole of the moon into a deeply shadowed crater, and blew up a bunch of junk. Why did we blow up a bunch of junk? Because we couldn't see into the permanently shadowed crater. Permanent shadow. So we had to pop it out somewhere where we could see it, where it was illuminated, and then we were able to basically turn our spectral analyzers on it, and see what was the chemical composition of it. That's why we do it. We blast into it, so something would pop off that we could take a look at. AUDIENCE: So my question is, what frequency do they, the antennas, use? DAVE KORSMEYER: OK. So right now-- and that's a great question, because that's getting tricky. These were started as university activities. So what we actually ended up using was the ham band. Anybody remember ham radio? Ham radio operators are all over the world and are serious, their own hacker community. Turns out, you put a ham radio transponder in space, and pretty much anywhere in the world, somebody's going to be listening if you tell them what particular frequency to listen to. And they will find you, and we just squawk packets, and then they email the packets back to us, and we get the data. It's a great model. It's free. It's a great model. The problem is, that was specifically only for amateur band, amateur band operators. Now that so many of these things are going on, and now that NASA's actually starting to play in this game, the amateur band people are saying, hey, it's getting too noisy in our amateur band. Please get your own band to play with. NASA uses a couple bands, S, X, and KA band. If you're not an RF person, and I'm not, I'll point you to an RF person. But it's like 480 megahertz is the ham band. I couldn't really tell you what S, X, and KA are. But we're looking for different actual downlink capabilities now, because of that. AUDIENCE: There's an Open Site glass on this thing. Looks like there's a little radical in there. Is there a purpose for that? DAVE KORSMEYER: I couldn't tell you without seeing exactly what you're talking about. You can show me afterwards. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] DAVE KORSMEYER: Oh yeah. We did put corner reflectors. You know what retro-reflectors are, or corner reflectors? They left them on the moon. They're basically-- it's a box of mirrors. And if you fire a light at that box of mirrors, it will bounce it directly back to you. Yeah. And that is just a mirror, is exactly right. It's a little retro-reflector. It's the idea that one of the things you can do is we're working with a group in Australia that's got a laser. It's a commercial grade, big, whopping laser. And they're lasing our satellite and getting the bounce back. That gives you what's called range. And you can also get what's called range rate, which is the rate of change of that range. And from that, you can get your position really accurately, down to a couple centimeters. So that's the type of stuff we're playing with. Yeah, go for it. AUDIENCE: Is NASA buying flights, suborbital commercial flights to launch these CubeSats? DAVE KORSMEYER: Not solely to launch the CubeSats. So we have paid Space X and Orbital Sciences and Boeing and Lockheed and all these guys to launch stuff for us, the US government has. But we're launching the big sats. What we've done is we've-- as part of that contract, we've claimed extra volume and mass. And with that, we're launching the CubeSats. Eventually, the launch vehicle providers are going to figure out they can charge us for this. They have not yet figured that out. Don't tell them. AUDIENCE: And what about suborbital flights [INAUDIBLE] Spain's planning to launch-- DAVE KORSMEYER: There's a thing called the Flight Opportunities Program, which we will fly anybody's junk. Again, as long as you propose, we fly our own junk and we have to propose to that. And they're all suborbital flights. So we fly out of the Mojave space port, which takes you up rather high, but doesn't get you in orbit. It's suborbital. OK? Thank you very much. Appreciate the time. Let me know if you want to chat. [APPLAUSE]

See also


  1. ^ "NASA - NSSDC - Spacecraft Details". NASA. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "CHIPSat Satellite details 2003-002B NORAD 27643". N2YO. 18 February 2020. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  3. ^ Cosmic Hot Interstellar Plasma Spectrometer Archived 2013-11-21 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-08-18. Retrieved 2013-09-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ CHIPS Solar Science Archive Archived 2011-08-13 at the Wayback Machine

External links

Media related to CHIPSat at Wikimedia Commons

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