Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

SwRI scientists develop solar observatory for use on suborbital manned space missions

12.12.2014

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.


Image Courtesy of Southwest Research Institute

The SwRI Solar Instrument Pointing Platform (SSIPP).

“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!
Further information:
http://www.swri.org/9what/releases/2014/ssipp.htm#.VIr3e2Ewfcs

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht APEX takes a glimpse into the heart of darkness
25.05.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

nachricht First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR
24.05.2018 | Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>