BOULDER – A tiny satellite designed, built and tested by University of Colorado-Boulder students to study solar flares, may launch as early as Aug. 14 from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, Calif., the university announced.
Begun in 2008, the satellite project involves more than 60 students from five academic majors under the guidance of CU-Boulder faculty and professional engineers, according to Xinlin Li, principal investigator, professor in the aerospace engineering sciences department and a research associate at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP).
Called a CubeSat because of its shape, the satellite is about the size of a toaster and weighs about six pounds.
The mission, called the Colorado Student Space Weather Experiment, is a collaborative effort between the aerospace engineering sciences department and LASP and includes a science payload known as the Relativistic Electron and Proton Telescope Integrated Little Experiment, or REPTile.
The student payload is a scaled-down version of an instrument built at LASP for NASA’s Radiation Belt Storm Probes mission that’s slated for launch later his month.
The goal of the student mission is to study solar flares and how the particles released during such events affect Earth’s radiation belt, said Scott Palo, aerospace engineering sciences professor and co-principal investigator on the project.
The project is funded by the National Science Foundation. The satellite will launch on an Atlas V rocket along with 10 other CubeSat satellites from other institutions around the nation under NASA’s Educational Launch of Nano-Satellites program.