UNH involved in little tiny satellites ("CubeSats" - great name!)
Posted by David Brooks | Wednesday, December 5, 2012
By David Sims at UNH News Service:
Physicists from the University of New Hampshire’s Space Science Center have been funded by NASA to develop technological components needed for instruments on board tiny research satellites known as “CubeSats.” The three-year, $369,948 competitive grant was awarded through NASA’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, or EPSCoR, Research Infrastructure Development (RID) program.
The innovative 10x10x10-centimeter CubeSat satellites, which are generally auxiliary payloads on previously planned missions, provide low-cost, ready access to space exploration for university graduate students and researchers. UNH is currently working on the FIREBIRD (Focused Investigations of Relativistic Electron Burst Intensity, Range, and Dynamics) CubeSat mission slated for launch in 2013.
The project involves three scientists from the UNH Institute the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space and department of physics, two collaborators from Dartmouth College, and several regional industrial partners.
The project’s principal investigator is research professor Antoinette Galvin, who also serves as the director for the New Hampshire NASA EPSCoR program headquartered at UNH.
Associate professor Marc Lessard is lead scientist for work aimed at developing miniaturized instrumentation for a magnetometer that could fly on pint-sized CubeSat satellite missions. Associate professor James Connell will lead work to develop scaled-down electronics to support high-energy particle instruments similar to ones he and colleagues have developed for standard-sized spacecraft.
The Dartmouth co-investigators, professor Kristina Lynch (formerly of UNH) and associate professor Robyn Millan, will further ongoing technology development directed towards the goal of an orbiting “swarm” of multiple CubeSats that will work together to make multipoint investigations of geospace phenomena.
EPSCoR was established by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1979, with a goal of strengthening U.S. research and education in science and engineering. NSF designated New Hampshire an EPSCoR state in 2004, and in 2007 the state became eligible for NASA EPSCoR funding. Since then, in addition to the recent RID funding, research awards totaling over $2,740,000 under the administration of UNH have come to the state through the NASA program, including another recent award for $744,432 for research on the effects of microgravity on the human eye that is led by Jay Buckey, professor of medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.