Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is preparing to unveil a new, miniature portable solar observatory for use onboard a commercial, manned suborbital spacecraft. The SwRI Solar Instrument Pointing Platform (SSIPP) will be on exhibit at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), Dec. 16-19, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Calif.
Using reusable suborbital commercial spacecraft for the SSIPP development effort improves on a traditional space instrument development process that goes back to the dawn of the space age, according to principal investigator Dr. Craig DeForest, a principal scientist in SwRI’s Space Science and Engineering Division.
“Development and testing of space instrumentation has been essentially unchanged since World War II: New instruments were mated to sounding rockets, which are hand-built, miniature spacecraft that fly five-minute missions but require months, and sometimes years, between flights because the payloads typically need reconditioning after each flight.
“Commercial manned flights have the potential to completely change all that by providing a stabilized, completely reusable platform that is 30 times less expensive per flight than sounding rockets and can fly many times per week,” DeForest said. “SSIPP is a first step to exploiting that platform. We hope to enable space-based observation in the same, inexpensive mode as ground-based observatories, where a scientist might build up a new instrument for a single observation and break it down a week later.”
SSIPP uses a classic, two-stage pointing system similar to larger spacecraft, but in this case the first stage is a pilot who initially steers the instrument toward the Sun, explained Systems Engineer Jed Diller, also of SwRI. “SSIPP does the rest, locking onto the Sun to allow observations,” he said.
The first SSIPP space flight will search for “solar ultrasound,” which DeForest said is a phenomenon first observed in the early 2000s by the Transitional Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE) spacecraft. The “ultrasound” is sound waves with 10 second period, some 18 octaves deeper than ultrasound on Earth, and forms visible ripples in the Sun’s surface layers. The waves are difficult to detect without space instrumentation, because the tiny, rapid fluctuations cannot be separated from the confounding influence of Earth’s turbulent atmosphere, he said.
The first test flights of SSIPP will be aboard a general aviation aircraft during the spring of 2015. It is scheduled to fly on XCOR’s Lynx suborbital spacecraft immediately on completion of XCOR’s flight test program in 2015.
Although at first SSIPP will be operated from inside the cockpit, a full system eventually will be mounted outside the host vehicle to enable ultraviolet (UV) and X-ray observations that are inaccessible from the ground.
SSIPP will be on display at the XCOR booth, No. 2723.
For more information, contact Joe Fohn, (210) 522-4630, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, PO Drawer 28510, San Antonio, TX 78228-0510
Joe Fohn | EurekAlert!
From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'
23.02.2017 | University of Wisconsin-Madison
Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars
22.02.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".
Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
24.02.2017 | Life Sciences
24.02.2017 | Life Sciences
24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News