GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Another CubeSat mission involving significant contributions from Goddard scientists has won a berth on NASA’s Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) in 2018. The pint-size spacecraft will be one of the first to venture into interplanetary space.
NASA chose the CubeSat Mission to Study Solar Particles over the Earth’s Poles Enhancement (CuSPP+) to study the sources and acceleration mechanisms of solar and interplanetary particles near Earth’s orbit. Led by the San Antonio, Texas-based Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), the six-unit (6U) CubeSat will fly three miniaturized instruments, including the Goddard-developed Miniaturized Electron and Proton Telescope (MERiT).
MERiT is a modification of a similar sensor that is now being built for the Compact Radiation Belt Explorer (CeREs) mission, a three-unit (3U) CubeSat mission slated to fly in 2016. Goddard also had been working with SwRI on another 3U CubeSat, called CuSPP.
“For the EM-1 opportunity, we just proposed an increment to CuSPP to make it interplanetary, thus CuSPP+,” said Goddard Lead Co-Investigator Eric Christian, who is working with co-investigators Shri Kanekal and Nikolaos Paschalidis on the instrument.
CuSPP+ joins the Lunar IceCube as one of 12 payloads to deploy during EM-1, the first test flight of NASA’s Space Launch System, a 38-story launch vehicle. While Lunar IceCube will gather data from a highly elliptical lunar orbit, CuSPP+ will study charged-particle dynamics in interplanetary space.