Kyung Hee University co-produces miniaturized satellites for NASA
By Alexander Ahn
The School of Space Research at Kyung Hee University is collaborating with the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Space and Atmospheric Physics Group at Imperial College London to make a set of miniaturized satellites to study the weather in space.
The collaboration began under the TRIO-CINEMA project last year when the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) asked the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) to join the project. A deal specifying the expected roles and financial contributions of all parties was signed in November.
“This project to explore outer space using compact satellites is the first of its kind and is the first exploration mission by Korea,” said an astronomy and space science professor at Kyung Hee University.
The Korean school is responsible for building two miniaturized satellites called CubeSats, which are based on a design from UC Berkeley. The satellites will be used to study the effects of space weather on Earth’s radiation belts, magnetic fields, and auroral zones.
The three identical CubeSats, which are only 10x10x30cm in size, will carry two science instruments: the SupraThermal Electron, Ion and Neutral (STEIN) sensor, provided by UC Berkeley and the MAGnetometer from Imperial College (MAGIC). These devices will measure the magnetic field while in low Earth orbit in three dimensions and will also detect charged and neutral particles using stereoscopic imaging. The images captured by the CubeSats are anticipated to produce new findings and help with tracking disturbances from solar winds.
KARI’s flight vehicles research manager Joo Kwang-hyeok said, “The TRIO-CINEMA mission will serve as a golden opportunity to show Korea’s commitment to technology on space exploration to the world.”
The first CubeSat is scheduled to launch in mid-2012 with the liftoff of the remaining two planned for the latter part of the year.
The satellites are expected to remain in orbit for 20 years. Funding for a fourth CubeSat is currently underway by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the U.S. Air Force.