Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

U. of Colorado’s ’Little Satellite That Did’ set for re-entry in coming days

02.12.2003


Former CU-Boulder students Erica Rodgers and Stan Straight put the finishing touches on SNOE just prior to launch in early 1998. Photo courtesy of the University of Colorado


A $5 million University of Colorado at Boulder satellite dubbed the "Little Satellite That Did" now is expected to re-enter the atmosphere and burn up in early December following a successful six-year mission.

The Student Nitric Oxide Explorer, or SNOE, is carrying instruments that have measured nitric oxide in the upper atmosphere that affects Earth’s ozone layer, the intensity of X-rays from the sun and ultraviolet light from Earth’s aurora. Developed at CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics by students, engineers and faculty, the mission has been controlled from LASP’s CU Research Park facility 24 hours a day by students and faculty since early 1998.

"The SNOE satellite has been determining the influence of the sun on Earth’s upper atmosphere by measuring the amount of nitric oxide in the atmosphere," said Charles Barth, former LASP director and principal investigator of SNOE. Produced when solar X-rays are absorbed into the atmosphere, nitric oxide destroys naturally produced ozone when injected into the stratosphere 30 to 50 miles above Earth.



"NASA’s latest predictions indicate that SNOE will re-enter the atmosphere on Dec. 5," he said. "However, we are anticipating more solar storms in the next few days that may cause it to come in earlier. We still are studying the effects of the solar storms on the atmosphere, so any large storms in the next several days will be good news for our scientific studies and bad news for the lifetime of the satellite."

Orbiting at more than 300 miles above Earth, SNOE has helped CU-Boulder scientists and students map the effect of global X-rays on the atmosphere. SNOE data have shown that nitric oxide levels in the mesosphere correlate with the 27-day cycle of solar X-rays coming from the sun.

In addition, the researchers discovered that when charged particles sent rocketing to Earth by solar storms slam into Earth’s magnetic field and are injected into the polar regions, they produce both Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis. "The same particles that cause the aurora also produce the nitric oxide in the upper atmosphere," said Barth.

This helps CU researchers determine how much energy is injected in the polar regions, he said.

Roughly 60 students from disciplines ranging from business, film studies and computer science have participated in the on-campus control of SNOE, said Randy Davis, LASP’s mission operations director. LASP currently controls five satellites.

SNOE’s design and construction phase involved more than 100 students, primarily undergraduates, said Davis. SNOE was one of three spacecraft selected for flight by the Universities Space Research Association in 1994 as part of NASA’s Student Explorer Demonstration Initiative. CU’s spacecraft was the first to launch.

"It is remarkable to me how successful SNOE has been," said Davis. "The reasons we built SNOE in-house was the opportunity of involving more than 100 students in the project from design and construction to satellite control and the tremendous science SNOE was capable of doing. We have extremely competent and enthusiastic students here."

From 1981 to 1989, CU students and faculty controlled the Solar Mesosphere Explorer satellite from campus, the first NASA satellite ever entirely operated and controlled by a university. SNOE was the second.

The three-foot-diameter, 220-pound spacecraft was launched on a Pegasus expendable-launch vehicle built by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va. The Pegasus carried the satellite to an altitude of 40,000 feet by jet aircraft and dropped into a five-second free fall. SNOE then ignited horizontally and began ascending, placing it in a circular orbit about 340 miles above Earth within 10 minutes.

CU students tapped into the expertise of engineers from Ball Aerospace Corp. -- which built the Solar Mesosphere Explorer satellite -- and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, working side by side with them in all phases of the project.

The operations were supported in part by a special excellence award from the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, said Davis.

"During the final months of SNOE’s lifetime, the students formed a SNOE re-entry team to carefully monitor the satellite’s performance," said Barth. "This has been a truly unique experience for CU-Boulder students to participate in from launch to re-entry."

The SNOE research team expects almost all of the satellite to burn up during re-entry, with perhaps a few small fragments falling into the ocean.


Additional information on the SNOE project can be found on the Web at http://lasp.colorado.edu/programs_missions/present/off_site/save.html.

Additional Contacts:
Randy Davis, (303) 492-6867
Jim Scott, (303) 492-3114

Charles Barth | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.colorado.edu/
http://lasp.colorado.edu/programs_missions/present/off_site/save.html

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht By saving cost and energy, the lighting revolution may increase light pollution
23.11.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ

nachricht Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus
23.11.2017 | Universität Heidelberg

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Underwater acoustic localization of marine mammals and vehicles

23.11.2017 | Information Technology

Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond

23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon

23.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>