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CubeSats for Deep Space


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CubeSats are small research satellites that were originally conceived for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) missions.  Since 1999, when CubeSat specifications were first developed, over 1,200 have been launched.  In 2018, Mars Cube One launched the first CubeSats beyond Earth orbit, on a mission to Mars.  Several additional CubeSats are planned for future deep space missions.  In 2019 and 2020, SYSTEMS magazine published three special issues featuring articles on CubeSats that are being developed as secondary payloads on the Artemis 1 mission to the Moon in 2021.  These CubeSats are the subject of this lecture.

The lecture will feature the “CubeSat Mission to Study Solar Particles (CuSP).”  CuSP is a NASA Science Mission Directorate sponsored mission to study the sources and accelerations of solar and interplanetary particles in support of space weather research.  CuSP consists of a 6U CubeSat containing three instruments built by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Southwest Research Institute.