CubeSats, new satellite technology, will be used to test new weather-monitoring technology which could possibly unlock secrets of climate change. National Aeronautics and Space Administration has created a foot long and four inches wide device called IceCube or Earth-1 which will use satellite standardisation to launch orbiting probes faster and make it more cost-effective.
The satellites are about 4-inches in length and weigh a pound. The launch equipment is standardised as it has fixed dimensions. In February, with the help of a customised robotic arm, a flock of CubeSate were released from the International Space Station by NASA.
A team at Goddard Flight Centre, led by Dong Wu, has designed IceCube which will be used to test a receiver that is designed to scan the middle and upper tropospheres. The new data obtained and the result of IceCube are going to backbone to build an instrument that can be used to monitor, on a daily basis, the global atmospheric ice. Using this, the reasons as to why ice is formed and how it can change the quantity of solar energy reflected away from the earth can be calculated.
Goddard's Microwave Instruments and Technology Branch's associate head, Jeff Piepmeier views this as an important opportunity. He and his team were thrilled to receive the news that their project, Earth-1 CubeSat has been chosen by the directorate.
IceCube made of three blocks joined together will be 3U CubeSat. The team hopes to use more off-the-shelf compornents to trip development costs. Earlier, smartphones like HTC Nexus One-based "PhoneSats" have been used as "brains" for satellites.
Paul Racette, a Goddard scientist and a member of the IceCube Team said that they want to modify the receiver in such a manner so as to fly it into space and raise the technology-readiness level for deployment on a satellite. He added that their team should make the receiver senstitive enough to use as little power as possible to detect and measure ice clouds.