Coast Guard’s Polar Scout CubeSats Aid in Arctic Rescues

Polar Scout satellite (Credit: USCG)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — For decades, the dense sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean has been shrinking and, in some regions, disappearing altogether. This environmental change is dramatically altering areas that were once blocked by ice and creating open water that is being turned into shipping lanes for an increasing number of vessels looking for a faster route between Asia, eastern North America and Europe.

According to data from the U.S. Committee On The Marine Transportation System, the number of vessels operating in the Arctic region has increased from 52 in 2008 to 144 in 2013. The committee predicts that the Arctic Ocean will see 2,111 vessels by 2025. This rapid increase in traffic through a dynamic environment like the Arctic has made U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) missions especially challenging while underscoring the need for prompt and reliable emergency distress signal response.

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Space Weather Act Introduced in Senate

An image taken from the International Space Station shows orange swaths of airglow hovering in Earth’s atmosphere. NASA’s new Atmospheric Waves Experiment will observe this airglow from a perch on the space station to help scientists understand, and ultimately improve forecasts of, space weather changes in the upper atmosphere. (Credits: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On Sept. 2, 1859, a powerful solar storm of highly charged particles overwhelmed the Earth’s protective magnetic field, shorting out telegraph wires and igniting fires across the United States and Europe.

Aware of the havoc that a similar event could cause on a planet increasingly dependent on satellites and electronics, the U.S. government is looking to better predict, protect against and recover from future solar storms.

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Homeland Security Launched Polar Scout Satellites Using SpaceX Falcon 9 Vehicle

WASHINGTON (DHS PR) — The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) launched two miniature cube-shaped satellites (CubeSats) into space on December 3, 2018, via the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Named Yukon and Kodiak, the CubeSats, which are approximately the size of a shoebox, neatly squeezed into a 20-ft. payload stack with 62 other small satellites (SmallSats), and began orbiting our planet.

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Border Patrol, Homeland Security Want Access to SpaceX’s Boca Chica Facility

Elon Musk (center) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry break ground on a new launch complex. (Credit: Texas Governor’s Office)

The Brownsville Herald reports on a request by federal law enforcement for access to SpaceX’s Boca Chica launch complex, which lies just north of the U.S.-Mexico border.

SpaceX confirmed Wednesday that officials with the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection have requested access to the property where rockets could one day launch to Mars.

“The Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently requested SpaceX permit access to our South Texas Launch site to conduct a site survey,” SpaceX Spokesman James Gleeson said in a statement. “At this time, SpaceX is evaluating the request and is in communication with DHS to further understand their plans.”

The development comes as SpaceX continues to work on its launch pad and while the company owned by entrepreneur Elon Musk, who recently visited the South Texas Launch site, is building a prototype of the Starship spacecraft that may one day take people to Mars.

The only announcement the federal government has made about building more border wall infrastructure in Cameron County is that it will fill in 11 gaps in the in existing wall.

Coast Guard Preparing To Launch Its First Satellites

Polar Scout CubeSat (Credit: Coast Guard)

WASHINGTON (U.S. Coast Guard PR) — Two small satellites, scheduled for launch in 2018, will provide the Coast Guard with the opportunity to test the effectiveness of satellite communications in supporting Arctic search and rescue missions.

These satellites, or “cubesats,” are capable of detecting transmissions from emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs), which are carried on board vessels to broadcast their position if in distress. The Coast Guard will deploy the cubesats in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s Polar Scout program, the Air Force Operationally Responsive Space Office, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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