3.2 The Impact of CubeSats in Space Weather Research (Invited Presentation)

Monday, 23 January 2017: 4:15 PM
4C-2 (Washington State Convention Center )
Charles Swenson, Utah State University, Logan, UT

The most significant advances in space weather over the next decade are most likely to derive from new observational techniques of the space environment. The general connection between advances in scientific understanding and technology has historically been demonstrated across many disciplines and time. The new observational technique available to the space weather community are the miniaturized sensors and satellite systems called CubeSats. The future advances for space weather will most likely occur through multipoint observations within the space environment that give a global perspective and illustrate the coupling between disparate regions, heliosphere, magnetosphere, ionosphere, thermosphere and mesosphere on appropriate time scales.


CubeSats are enabled by the enormous investment of the commercial, medical, and defense industries in producing highly capable, portable and low-power battery-operated consumer electronics, in-situ composition probes, and novel reconnaissance sensors. Significant progress has been made by the nascent CubeSat industry in demonstrating, on orbit, the viability of CubeSats for a variety of tasks. A constellation of spacecraft for space weather purposes can now be created and deployed from a single launch vehicle with a variety of sensors for observing the state of the space environment. This reality has been demonstrated by the successes of commercial companies in deploying and operating a constellation of more than 150 satellites. The space weather community has embraced the concept of CubeSat constellations but the actual application of them is still only a concept in study. In this talk we overview the current capability of CubeSats and the direction of innovations and advancements within the CubeSat industry and concepts for how they can be used to address priority space weather research topics.

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