University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Calendar

Tuesday, January 24th 2017
12:20 pm:
Speaker: James Mason, University of Colorado
Subject: The Success and the Science of the Student-Built MinXSS Solar CubeSat

CU Boulder and LASP have a long history of involving students in every aspect of science spacecraft production. The most recent incarnation is the Miniature X-ray Solar Spectrometer (MinXSS) CubeSat, which was sent to the International Space Station with resupply cargo and then deployed from the airlock on 2016 May 16. Students were heavily involved in the design, manufacturing, assembly, extensive testing, delivery to Houston; and continue to be involved in the mission operations, data pipeline production, and science analysis. CubeSats are comparatively low cost for spacecraft and as such the programs tend to accept more risk, the result of which is a higher rate of failure. The ongoing MinXSS-1 mission has exceeded comprehensive success criteria, has been featured by NASA, won the 2016 AIAA SmallSat mission of the year award, and is the first science CubeSat funded by NASA to be launched. I’ll touch on how we made sure MinXSS would be a success. I’ll also describe some of the early science results from the MinXSS-1 mission, which focus on the energetic processes that occur in the solar corona. Finally, I’ll discuss what we wish we would have done on MinXSS-1; fortunately, we built two satellites so we can make those wishes a reality on MinXSS-2, scheduled to launch in the first half of 2017.

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