Rowan University included in NASA's seventh round of candidates for CubeSat space missions

Rowan University included in NASA's seventh round of candidates for CubeSat space missions


NASA has selected 20 small satellites from 12 states to fly as auxiliary payloads aboard rockets planned to launch in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Launch opportunities will be available via existing launch services of government payloads, as well as dedicated CubeSat launches from the newly selected Venture Class Launch Services contracts. The proposed CubeSats come from educational institutions, universities (including Rowan University), non-profit organizations and NASA field centers.

CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. The cube-shaped satellites measure about four inches on each side, have a volume of about one quart and weigh less than three pounds each.

The selections are part of the seventh round of the agency's CubeSat Launch Initiative. After launch, the satellites will conduct technology demonstrations, educational research or science missions. The selected spacecraft are eligible for placement on a launch manifest after final negotiations, depending on the availability of a flight opportunity. The organizations sponsoring satellites are:

Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates, Boulder, Colorado -Scintillation Observations and Response of The Ionosphere to Electrodynamics (SORTIE) CubeSat is a scientific investigation mission to advance understanding of ionospheric irregularities and the roles of various drivers in their formation in order to improve predictive capabilities.

Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah - Passive Inspection CubeSat (PICS) is a technology demonstration mission of a spacecraft capable of performing inspection, maintenance and assembly on another spacecraft. It will demonstrate ultrafast booting and power-up operation of system electronics and the low-risk inspection of the exterior of a spacecraft by a passive, flyaway probe. The two flight systems deployed simultaneously will enable the collection of image data from each other as well as the parent spacecraft.

California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo - EXOCUBE is a technology demonstration mission of a mass spectrometer sensor suite, EXOS, into low-Earth orbit to measure neutral and ionized species in the exosphere and thermosphere. Mass Spectrometer Incoherent Scatter models are essential in Earth system science and upper atmosphere composition.

Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin - Canopy Near-IR Observing Project (CaNOP) is a science Investigation mission to develop a CubeSat-based remote sensing platform for performing multispectral imaging of global forests to help understand large-scale biomass production and carbon uptake in both mature and harvested forests.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California - CubeSat Infrared Atmospheric Sounder (CIRAS) is a technology demonstration mission of three key infrared (IR) sensing and cryogenic technologies designed to reduce the size and cost of future space-borne IR remote-sensing instruments. It will advance the technology readiness level of the High Operating Temperature Barrier Infrared Detector, Coaxial Micro Pulse Tube CyroCooler and the Mid-Wavelength Infrared Radiance Grating Spectrometer to a seven.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California - RainCube is a technology validation mission to demonstrate the operation and performance of a miniaturized Ka-band Atmospheric Radar for CubeSats (miniKaAR-C) in the space environment on a low-cost, quick-turnaround platform. This mission will validate a new architecture for Ka-band radars and an ultra-compact deployable Ka-band antenna in a space environment. This new instrument will enable constellation missions and potentially transform climate science and weather forecasting.

MIT Lincoln Labs, Lexington, Massachusetts - Micro-size Microwave Atmospheric Satellite CubeSat (MicroMAS-2b) is a technology demonstration mission that will validate new ultra-compact and low-power technology for CubeSat-sized microwave radiometers and validate operational high-performance cross-track scanner technology and CubeSat attitude control and stabilization. It will raise the technology readiness level of the radiometer and scanner from five to seven.

Michigan Technological University, Houghton - The Stratus CubeSat mission is a science investigation to deploy and demonstrate a low-cost CubeSat platform capable of measuring cloud fraction, cloud top height, and cloud top wind with performance comparable to the best data obtained from NASA’s flagship Earth-observing spacecraft. Cloud properties are important for the energy budget of the Earth, as both incoming sunlight and outgoing thermal radiation are very sensitive to cloud variables.

NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California - The Global Network of Swarms (GNS) is a technology demonstration mission of swarm networking algorithms using eight small, chip based spacecraft called Basic Electronic Elements or BEEs provided by Swarm Technologies, LLC. These flat, single board spacecraft are fully autonomous and capable of forming radio frequency networked nodes in space. Swarms or constellations of BEEs can relay data in real-time and can create global space-based relay networks for scientific, industrial, and government applications.

NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia - Shields-1 CubeSat is a technology demonstration of environmentally durable space hardware to increase the technology readiness level of new commercial hardware through performance validation in the relevant space environment. It incorporates three experiments: vault electronics, charge dissipation film resistance and vault shielding development that will provide radiation and operational data from the inner proton and outer electron belt regions.

New Mexico State University, Las Cruces - Ionospheric Neutron Content Analyzer (INCA) is a scientific investigation mission that will study the latitude and time dependencies of the neutron spectrum in low-Earth orbit for the first time to improve current space weather models and mitigate threats to space and airborne assets. The measurements will come from a new directional neutron spectrometer, which is being developed in conjunction with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of New Hampshire.

North Idaho STEM Charter Academy, Rathdrum - DaVinci is an educational mission that will teach students about radio waves, aeronautical engineering, space propulsion, and geography by sending a communication signal to schools around the world.

Northwest Nazarene University, Nampa, Idaho – MakerSat-0 is a technology demonstration mission of a 3-D printed CubeSat, which contains common satellite power, control, computing, and radio communication tasks connected to four science boards. Eventually, the MakerSat system will allow students to do open-source design and programming of space science experiments from their own MakerSpace and load them onto generic MakerSat science boards aboard the space station for later deployment. 

The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio - CubeSat Radiometer Radio Frequency Interface Technology (CubeRRT) is a technology demonstration mission that will validate advanced technologies for Earth remote sensing in space by conducting radiometer radio frequency interference technology validation. It is a space-borne technology readiness level seven demonstration of real-time mitigation of radio frequency interference.

Rowan University, Glassboro, New Jersey - MemSat is a technology demonstration to fly a memristor evaluation payload to characterize and compare the behavior of memristor memory devices against standard, silicon-based memory technologies to determine potential advantages and/or disadvantages of memristors for space applications. Memristors are electronic devices in which information is stored in the resistance state of the device and can be retained during power-off modes, allowing for energy efficient power shutoff as well as system resiliency in power failures.

SRI International, Menlo Park, California - The Ionospheric Scintillation Explorer (ISX) is a space weather investigation to better understand the physics of naturally occurring Equatorial Spread F ionospheric irregularities by deploying a passive ultra-high frequency radio scintillation receiver. Plasma irregularities are naturally occurring ionospheric structures that can significantly degrade the performance of satellite-based communication and navigation systems.

United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland - RSat is part of a technology demonstration mission to provide an in-orbit mobile platform to survey and possibly repair a much larger, conventional spacecraft. This component of the system comprises a 3U CubeSat with two 60 cm, 7 degree-of-freedom robotic arms fitted with claws and is intended to  demonstrate diagnostic and repair capabilities by validating five robotic functions in orbit.

University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lafayette, Louisiana - The Cajun Advanced Picosatellite Experiment (CAPE-3) is an educational mission that will fly the Smartphone CubeSat Classroom, which allows anyone with a smartphone to set up a ground station with a kit. Interactive educational activities will give students the ability to interact with the CubeSat via an app on their smartphone and use their smartphone to design their own CubeSat experiments.

Utah State University, Logan, Utah - Compact Infrared Radiometer in Space (CIRiS) is a technology demonstration mission of an imaging radiometer instrument for the 7 to 13 um infrared wavelength range. It will raise the technology readiness level of the new uncooled detector and carbon nanotube source from level 5 to 6, enabling future reduced cost missions to study the hydrologic cycle, characterization of ocean/atmosphere interactions vegetation and land use management.

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee - RadFXSat-2 is a technology demonstration mission to advance the state of the art in understanding the effects of space radiation on electronic components. It will demonstrate a short interval, cost-effective, on-orbit platform for enhanced qualification of components for space flight. The data collected will be used to validate and improve computer models used to predict radiation tolerance of integrated circuits.

To date, the CubeSat Launch Initiative has selected 125 CubeSats from 32 states and has launched 43 CubeSats as part of the agency's Launch Services Program's Educational Launch of Nanosatellite (ELaNa) Missions. This past year, five separate ELaNa missions ferried thirteen CubeSats to orbit, including the first CubeSat from the state of Alaska, the first CubeSat built by a tribal college, Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, Montana, and the first CubeSat built by an elementary school, St. Thomas More Cathedral School of Arlington, Virginia. This year, the agency made selections from New Jersey and Idaho, two states that had not previously been selected by the CubeSat Launch Initiative.

For additional information on NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative, visit: