Beacon Transcript – NASA announced that it will be sending a small army of smallsats or next-generation, small satellites into our planet’s orbit so as to help them gather important data on climate changes and weather patterns.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration held a teleconference from their Washington D.C. headquarters on Monday, November 7, in which it announced its plans for a small army of smallsats.
The NASA chief scientist, Ellen Stofan, announced that the small satellites will be used so as to offer a better, more accurate and also cheaper alternative to the current Earth observation satellites.
According to Stofan, the smallsats’ reduced size will make them a cheaper alternative for the space observation of our planet’s natural weather system.
They will also be more accessible to private companies or interested universities or students will be able to use the smallsats in future orbit experiments.
The small satellites will offer a number of varied advantages, in terms of both mission costs and efficiency, most of which are related to their size.
Thanks to their reduced dimensions, the new smallsats will be both easier, safer and cheaper to use when demonstrating or testing concepts or future technologies.
Their reduced dimension will also make them easier to incorporate into future projects and launches and will offer a wider view of our Earth.
According to the same Stofan, a small army of such smallsats will be quite easy to distribute in clusters all over Earth so as to offer a broad coverage of all our planet.
The higher number of such data-gathering devices will also account for an easier and more accurate analysis of a specific area’s weather patterns or climate.
The first eight such smallsat devices will be launched into space starting with December 12 and will fly in a constant formation over our planet’s most hurricane prone areas.
The eight small satellites will be part of the CYGNSS or Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System mission which seeks to improve storm and weather forecasts by surveying the Earth’s most hurricane affected latitudes.
Another smallsat will mark the first step in the RAVAN or Radiometer Assessment using Aligned Nanotubes project. The three-unit minisatellite, which has also been named CubeSat is scheduled to be launched sometime later this month.
According to the RAVAN mission’ principal investigator, Bill Swartz, their objectives are to monitor and study the greenhouse effects on climate change as it is observed by the satellite.
Swartz hopes that the CubeSat will be just the first of a series of smallsats which may one day fly around the entire planet and monitor its climate changes.
These are just two of the many more missions which might come to be based on the use of smallsats as the tiny but intelligent satellites may mark the beginning of a new era in the domain.
According to Stofan, such swarms of small satellites may come to one day orbit our planet, the Moon, Mars, and the various other space objects which are and will be investigated by humans.
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