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SMAP - Delta II 7320-10C - Vandenberg SLC-2W - 31.01.2015 - 14:22 UTC, (успешно)
 
http://spacenews.com/article/civil-space/42210nasa-soil-mapping-spacecraft-delivered-to-delta-2-launch-site
Цитата
NASA Soil-Mapping Spacecraft Delivered to Delta 2 Launch Site
By Dan Leone | Oct. 16, 2014

SMAP on Oct. 15 arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, where it will be mated with the United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket slated to launch it into a near-polar orbit Jan. 29. Credit: Photo courtesy of NASA

WASHINGTON — NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite on Oct. 15 arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, where it will be mated with the United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket slated to launch it into a near-polar orbit Jan. 29.
SMAP, an Earth observatory designed to produce a global map of soil moisture every two to three days over a three-year primary mission, will operate in a 685-kilometer, near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit that crosses the equator around 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. local time. SMAP will pass over the same spot every eight days. The spacecraft’s synthetic aperture L-band radar and L-band radiometer will observe in a 1,000-kilometer measurement swath and gauge the moisture of the top two inches of Earth’s surface, NASA said.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, built the spacecraft and the radar, while NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, built the radiometer. Northrop Grumman’s Astro Aerospace business unit in Carpinteria, California, built a reflector boom assembly.
SMAP data will provide insight into the global water and carbon cycles, aiding weather forecasters, farmers, foresters and emergency planners, among others, according to NASA. The mission will cost around $915 million to build and launch, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in an April report, “NASA: Assessments of Selected Large Scale Projects.”
SMAP is one of the major missions endorsed by scientists in a 10-year Earth science plan known as a decadal survey the National Research Council published in 2007.

Twitter: @Leone_SN
"Были когда-то и мы рысаками!!!"
 
http://spaceflightnow.com/2014/11/05/soil-moisture-mapper-fueled-for-january-launch/
Цитата
Soil moisture mapper fueled for January launch
Posted on November 5, 2014 by Justin Ray

Artist’s concept of the SMAP spacecraft in orbit. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s innovative soil moisture mapper, a new environmental satellite launching in January, has been fueled up for blastoff fr om Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
To be carried aloft by a United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket, the liftoff is slated for Jan. 29 at 6:20 a.m. local time (9:20 a.m. EST; 1420 GMT).
The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) spacecraft arrived at Vandenberg in mid-October from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory wh ere it was built.
“We have very little left to do at this point. The observatory is pretty much configured for flight,” said Kent Kellogg, SMAP project manager at JPL.
The spacecraft has been loaded with 180 pounds of hydrazine maneuvering fuel and its software has been installed.
Fitted with an active synthetic aperture radar and passive radiometer, the data from SMAP will be used varied applications as weather forecasting to disease control.
“Our objective is to make global maps of soil moisture and also the freeze/thaw state every 2-3 days,” Kellogg said.
The 2,100-pound SMAP is equipped with a 19.7-foot (6-meter) deployable mesh reflector antenna atop a boom structure that spins at 14.6 RPM and measures the planet in swaths of 620 miles (1,000 km).
“It’s a large deployable structure. We’ve done a lot of testing on it and we feel pretty confident,” Kellogg said.
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Astro Aerospace, part of Northrop Grumman, builder of deployable structures and mechanisms for spaceflight produced the antenna reflector system for SMAP.
“They’ve built larger forms of these antennas,” Kellogg said. “They are very proud to tell you that they’ve never had a deployment failure in space. It’s a pretty elegant design and we have a lot of confidence.”
The spacecraft, orbiting at altitude of 426 miles (685 km), will see through moderate vegetation, like a mature Iowa corn field, operating in daylight or darkness, to provide high-resolution maps of moisture in the soil and the state of the ground — either frozen or thawed — to give weather forecasters a better base for computer forecasting models.
What’s more, the mission will help flood or drought monitoring, food productivity insights and climate science.
A two-stage Delta 2 rocket, with three strap-on solid motors, will haul the observatory into a near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit.
Officials had hoped that SMAP might launch sooner than the end of January.
“But that’s looking quite unlikely at this point,” Kellogg said.
“So our plan to go into a holding operation with a smaller crew doing weekly checks on the observatory, and then we mate to the launch vehicle early in January.”
"Были когда-то и мы рысаками!!!"
 
http://www.nkj.ru/news/24973/
 
SMAP: Mapping Global Soil Moisture, Managing a Better Future
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1FX5AmeD2M

Цитата
Launching in January 2015, NASA’s Soil Moisture Mapping satellite (SMAP) will track water in the soil. Data gathered with help forecast weather, floods, drought, crop yield and landslides.


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http://vz.ru/news/2015/1/9/723580.html
Цитата
НАСА подготовит запуск спутника высокоточного измерения влажности Земли
9 января 2015, 07:19

Специалисты НАСА готовятся к запуску научного спутника, способного определить влажность почвы на всей поверхности Земли с беспрецедентной точностью.

Аппарат должна вывести на орбиту ракета-носитель Delta-2, запуск которой с базы ВВС Ванденберг в Калифорнии запланирован на 29 января, передает ТАСС.

«Данные, которые получит эта орбитальная обсерватория, будут иметь важное значение для сельского хозяйства и метеорологии. Они окажут помощь в составлении прогнозов погоды и предсказании различных стихийных бедствий, включая засухи и наводнения», - отметила на пресс-конференции руководитель этого проекта в научном управлении НАСА Кристин Бонниксен.

Кроме того, сказала эксперт, «замеры влажности почвы позволят расширить наше представление о формировании климата», в том числе о процессе круговорота воды и его связи с энергетическим и тепловым обменом на Земле.

«В свою очередь это облегчит контроль за изменением водных ресурсов на планете, что сейчас является одной из наиболее важных экологических проблем», - добавил эксперт из Массачусетского технологического института Дара Энтекхаби.

Как рассказал сотрудник Лаборатории реактивного движения в Пассадине (штат Калифорния) Кент Келлог, с помощью своих приборов спутник будет «заглядывать» из космоса вглубь почвы на 5 см и измерять уровень ее влажности. Он также сможет определять состояние почв в районах сезонного промерзания и оттаивания.

Сделать это ему позволят радар и радиометр, которые будут дополнять друг друга и станут, по выражению Келлога, «двумя линзами в одной паре очков». Их одновременное использование обеспечит беспрецедентное разрешение и высокую точность измерений.

Первый из этих приборов оснащен вращающейся решетчатой антенной диаметром 6 метров, которая станет самым большим подобным устройством, выводившимся в космическое пространство. Благодаря ей спутник сможет вести постоянный мониторинг Земли в полосе шириной около 1 тыс. км и в течение двух-трех дней «покрывать» всю поверхность планеты.

Аппарат, снабженный солнечными батареями, должен проработать на орбите не менее трех лет. Однако, как подчеркнул представитель Лаборатории реактивного движения, «запаса прочности у него хватит на гораздо больший период». Стоимость проекта вместе с расходами на запуск составит примерно 915 млн долларов.
"Были когда-то и мы рысаками!!!"
 
Брошюра:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/press_kits/smaplaunch.pdf

 
Цитата
NASA water mapper set for move to the launch pad




Making a scientific measurement of planet Earth on a global scale never before attempted by NASA is the objective of an environment satellite to be mounted atop its booster rocket Tuesday in California.

Liftoff of the United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket is slated for Jan. 29 at 6:20 a.m. local time (9:20 a.m. EST; 1420 GMT).

The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) spacecraft will detect the moisture content in land surfaces and determine whether it’s frozen or thawed during a three-year mission.

“The relevance is (soil moisture) is a pretty sensitive indicator of future water availability and can be used in climate models to help improve forecasts,” said Kent Kellogg, the project manager for SMAP.

“One of the really nice things about this mission is we have a lot of relevance for climate science, but the data is also very useful for everyday practical applications. It will improve weather forecasting significantly, drought and flood forecasting, food productivity and diseases.”

The mission was born out of first-ever Earth Science Decadal Survey in 2007, which tagged a soil moisture mission like SMAP as a high-ranking objective.

Capable of peering beneath clouds, vegetation and other surface features, the SMAP mission will produce global maps every 2-3 days.

Early Tuesday morning, crews with United Launch Alliance will carefully transport the 2,081-pound satellite from the commercial Astrotech processing facility to the pad at Space Launch Complex 2 of Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Once at the ocean-front pad, workers will lift the canister containing the observatory into the gantry for payload mating to the rocket’s second stage.

A combined systems check of the rocket and spacecraft is coming up this week. The payload fairing will be installed next week.

A two-stage Delta 2 rocket, with three strap-on solid motors, will haul the observatory into a near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit.


http://spaceflightnow.com/2015/01/12/nasa-water-mapper-set-for-move-to-the-launch-pad/
 
Delta II to Launch NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Mission
http://www.ulalaunch.com/delta-ii-to-launch-nasa-smap.aspx

Цитата
Rocket/Payload: A United Launch Alliance Delta II 7320 will launch the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission for NASA.

Date/Site/Launch Time: Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, from Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Launch is planned for 6:20 a.m. PST.

Mission Description: SMAP will provide the most accurate, highest-resolution global measurements of soil moisture ever obtained from space and will detect whether the ground is frozen or thawed. The data will be used to enhance scientists' understanding of the processes that link Earth's water, energy and carbon cycles.

Launch Notes: SMAP will mark the 52nd Delta II mission for NASA. It will be the second of 13 planned ULA missions in 2015.

 
http://spaceflightnow.com/2015/01/22/photos-smap-joins-delta-2-rocket/
Цитата
Photos: SMAP joins Delta 2 rocket
Posted on January 22, 2015 by Justin Ray

This photo gallery shows NASA’s SMAP spacecraft arriving at the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Space Launch Complex 2 and being hoisted atop the United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket. This occurred on January 13.




Изменено: Salo - 22.01.2015 23:05:22
"Были когда-то и мы рысаками!!!"
 
http://spaceflightnow.com/2015/01/25/preview-story-launch-of-delta-2-rocket-with-nasa-probe-thursday/
Цитата
Preview story: Launch of Delta 2 rocket with NASA probe Thursday
Posted on January 25, 2015 by Justin Ray

Credit: NASA

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE — From weather forecasting to agricultural benefits, a new NASA mission launching this week will provide unprecedented detail, accuracy and coverage of soil moisture from space on a world-wide basis every three days for the next three years.
“Moist soil is far more interesting than you might have ever imagined,” said Sam Thurman, SMAP deputy project manager.
“Soil moisture is the bank account of water in the land,” added Dara Entekhabi, SMAP science definition team lead.
The $916 million Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission is one piece of a larger program of Earth science projects in space to answer questions about how our planet works.
“SMAP will be joining our 18 operational missions that study the Earth’s systems. These issues that are addressed by this are climate change, things like sea level and fresh water resources. Our on-orbit satellites, along with air and ground observations, monitor the Earth’s vital signs,” said Christine Bonniksen, SMAP program executive with the Science Mission Directorate’s Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters.

“I started out as a planetary science guy, which tended to have a spacecraft and large suite of instruments to go some place and do many different investigations in parallel, in part, because no one may go there again for 10-20-30 years.
“As I’ve come to learn in the Earth science program is that the Earth’s climate is particularly complex…It takes a multitude of missions, each capable of dedicated set of measurements, and then scientists build a more comprehensive picture of our planet,” said Thurman.
In the case of SMAP, the observatory’s focused science goal is mapping global soil moisture content in the top two inches of the ground and determine whether that moisture is liquid or frozen.
“We have the ability to do that on a global basis and with an accuracy that is roughly 10 times greater than what’s achievable with ground-based measurements today,” Thurman said.
Liftoff is scheduled for the precise moment of 6:20:42 a.m. local time (9:20:42 a.m. EST; 1420:42 GMT) at the opening of a three-minute window on Thursday.
A United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket will serve as the launch vehicle to deliver SMAP into space. The Delta 2, making its 153rd launching, will fly in a configuration with two stages, three strap-on solid-fuel boosters and a 10-foot composite payload shroud.

“The ULA team is proud to be the launch provider for NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission,” said Jim Sponnick, vice president of Atlas and Delta Programs.
“One of four first-tier missions recommended by the National Research Council’s Committee on Earth Science and Applications from Space, SMAP will provide global, high- resolution mapping of soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state to link terrestrial water, energy, and carbon-cycle processes, and to extend capabilities of weather and climate prediction models.”
It will take 57 minutes and two firings by the upper stage to place SMAP into its preliminary orbit of 411 by 425 miles tilted 98.1 degrees to the equator.
Also sharing the ride to orbit will be four cubesats as part of NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites 10 (Elana 10) mission.
* ExoCube, a space weather satellite developed by California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
* The GEO-CAPE ROIC In-Flight Performance Experiment (GRIFEX), is a technology validation mission developed by the University of Michigan’s Michigan Exploration Laboratory in partnership with NASA’s Earth Science Technology Office and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
* Focused Investigations of Relativistic Electron Burst Intensity, Range, and Dynamics II (FIREBIRD-II A and B), another space weather project, was developed by the University of New Hampshire, Montana State University, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Aerospace Corporation.
The upper stage will deploy SMAP, then perform an engine burn that lowers the orbital altitude before systematically ejecting the cubesats one hour and 45-48 minutes after launch.
The upper stage then executes one further burn to deorbit the spent rocket body into the South Pacific.
The SMAP spacecraft, orbiting at a final science altitude of 426 miles (685 km), will see through moderate vegetation, like a mature Iowa corn field, operating in daylight or darkness, to provide high-resolution maps of moisture in the soil and the state of the ground — either frozen or thawed — to give weather forecasters a better base for computer forecasting models.

Government and commercial users of the data will feed the information into weather forecasting, climate modeling, drought, landslide and flood predictions, agricultural productivity, crop yields and growing season durations, and human health issues.
“We’ll return over 130 gigabytes of data every day. So if you think of a typical Netflix movie as 2-3 gigabytes, we’re doing 50 Netflix movies a day,” said Thurman.
SMAP is fitted with an active synthetic aperture radar and passive radiometer. It stands 16 feet tall at launch, then blossoms to 32 feet once deployed in orbit. The weight at launch is 2,081 pounds.
“The radiometer provides more accurate soil moisture but a coarse resolution of about 40 kilometers (25 miles) across,” said JPL’s Eni Njoku, a research scientist with SMAP. “With the radar, you can create very high resolution, but it’s less accurate. To get both an accurate and a high-resolution measurement, we process the two signals together.”

“These two science instruments and mission operations concept are optimized to provide high quality soil moisture data,” said Entekhabi.
“The radiometer instrument acts much like a camera. It sees the ambient light environment, in this case beyond the visible range in the microwave range, and the specific advantage of the microwave range is you can see in daylight and at night, you can see through clouds, you can penetrate moderate vegetation and in fact peer into the soil for a few inches to actually measure the volume of water in the soil.
“The resolution, the size of the features on the ground that you can see with the radiometer is limited by the size of the antenna, the reflector in this case, and that’s about 40 kilometers for the SMAP radiometer antenna.
“In order to augment that, SMAP carries another instrument package, which is the radar. And that one acts like a flash camera, it actually emits light, or in this case a microwave pulse, and looks at the reflection of that off the surface. And much like the flash camera, you can see a lot more detailed features on the surface. But you’re susceptible to scattering off surface vegetation and surface roughness. So it’s less sensitive than the radiometer to soil moisture, but it’s at muchy higher resolution, on the order of 3 kilometers.
“The combination of these two is what produces the SMAP high quality soil moisture retrievals.”
The radar and radiometer are like looking through both lenses of bifocals, said Bonniksen. “SMAP…will focus on the water that lives and moves through the soil. This information will improve our knowledge of weather, climate over land as well as water-related hazards,” she said.
SMAP is equipped with a 19.7-foot deployable gold, lightweight, rip-resistant mesh reflector antenna atop a boom structure that spins at 14.6 rpm (one complete rotation every four seconds) and measures the planet in swaths of 620 miles.

“The antenna needs to be large in order to have high-resolution, it needs to spin because the antenna is looking off at an angle, and we spin it so that it sweeps out a circle underneath the observatory, which allows us to measure 1,000 km wide swath…to measure the entire globe every 2-3 days,” said Kellogg.
On Day 16, the boom supporting the antenna will be unstowed and extended into a “tail wagging the dog” configuration. It will take 16 minutes for the 16-foot arm to unfold and lock into place.
Next, on Day 20, after a few days of monitoring the spacecraft performance in the boom deploy configuration, the antenna itself will be unfurled like a camping chair in a 33-minute procedure.
The antenna is stowed in a 12-inch-diameter, four-foot-long package for launch. Initially, it is allowed to “bloom” outward to 7-foot in diameter before being driven to the full 20-foot expanse.
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About 50 days after launch the spin-up sequence begins. In between, the science instruments will be checked out and the science-gathering orbital altitude will be tweaked.
The spinning initially goes to 4.5 rpm for a few days of testing before gradually stepping up to the nominal 14.6 rpm within 60 days of launch.
The nominal science mission begins 90 days after liftoff.
The spacecraft’s goals of the 39-month mission include:
* Understand processes that link Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles on land.
* Estimate flows of water and energy between the atmosphere and land globally.
* Quantify the net transfer of carbon between the boreal forests and atmosphere.
* Enhance weather and climat forecasting accuracy.
* Develop improved flood prediction and drought-monitoring capability.
“What’s unique about SMAP science returns is that it has returns in two very distinct areas. One of them is in fundamental understanding of how the environment works, It’s addressing some fundamental Earth science questions. The second is in the arena of applications. SMAP provides data that affect our everyday lives in terms of dealing with some really serious natural hazards,” said Entekhabi from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.
“In terms of Earth science, there are three fundamental cycles that make lives possible on Earth. The water cycle, the energy cycle and the carbon cycle over land are linked through the soil moisture variable. If it wasn’t for the soil moisture variable, these three processes over land would vary independently, but they don’t. They work in concert like gears in a clock, they are linked together through the soil moisture variable.”
“With the launch of this project, decision makers will be better able to understand the water cycle and how soil moisture fits into that. The soil actually gathers the precipitation prior to it entering he rivers and then evaporating back into the atmosphere. As a result, soil moisture impacts many areas of human interest, including flood, drought, disease control and weather,” said Bonniksen.

See our earlier SMAP coverage.
And see our Delta archive for further information.
Изменено: Salo - 26.01.2015 12:06:30
"Были когда-то и мы рысаками!!!"
 
Буклет от ULA: http://www.ulalaunch.com/uploads/docs/Mission_Booklets/DII/dii_smap_mob.pdf
 
Третья зона - очевидно, под затопление второй ступени.

HYDROPAC 278/2015 (18,83)

EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC.
SOUTH PACIFIC.
ROCKETS.
DNC 06, DNC 13.
1. HAZARDOUS OPERATIONS:
A. 1350Z TO 1524Z DAILY 29 JAN THRU 02 FEB
IN AREA BOUND BY
34-00N 120-42W, 34-05N 121-00W,
34-23N 120-53W, 34-19N 120-36W.
B. 1350Z TO 1524Z DAILY 29 JAN THRU 02 FEB
IN AREA BOUND BY
12-29N 125-46W, 12-40N 126-37W,
18-10N 125-26W, 18-00N 124-32W.
C. 1612Z TO 1635Z DAILY 29 JAN THRU 02 FEB
IN AREA BOUND BY
35-46S 162-53W, 35-46S 162-24W,
45-37S 165-44W, 45-37S 166-20W.
2. CANCEL THIS MSG 021735Z FEB 15.

( 250636Z JAN 2015 )
 
http://spaceflightnow.com/2015/01/27/weather-looking-good-for-delta-2-launch/
Цитата
Weather looking good for Delta 2 launch
Posted on January 27, 2015 by Justin Ray

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE — The weather outlook is 80 percent favorable for launch of the Delta 2 rocket early Thursday morning from California, with cloud thickness posing the only worry, meteorologists report.
At launch time, the forecast predicts mid- and high-level clouds, good visibility, light northeasterly winds and a temperature of 45-50 degrees F.
Mission officials will convene the Launch Readiness Review Tuesday morning at Vandenberg Air Force Base to confirm all systems are set to enter into the countdown for Thursday’s liftoff.
The Launch Readiness Review will give the “go” to continue with the liftoff plans. Tuesday’s meeting examines the status of the Delta rocket, the SMAP spacecraft, the network of ground support and the weather forecast. The review culminates with official consensus to press ahead with countdown operations starting Wednesday afternoon.
After the LRR concludes, the pre-launch press conference is planned for 1 p.m. local (4 p.m. EST; 2100 GMT) with the NASA launch director, ULA’s program manager, SMAP officials and the weather officer.
The loading of storable propellants into the second stage was completed on Monday with the filling of hydrazine fuel. The oxidizer was loaded aboard on Friday.
Also Friday, the mission dress rehearsal was held for official personnel to practice the countdown and launch sequences.
“At this time, all pre-launch preparations are on schedule,” a NASA spokesman said Monday afternoon. “There are no significant issues being worked by the launch team.”
"Были когда-то и мы рысаками!!!"
 


отсюда
 
SMAP Poised to Launch on Soil Survey Flight
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lABnMHy5HUU

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Цитата
ATK ‏@ATK 1 hour ago

@ulalaunch 's #DeltaII stands ready for tomorrow's early morning launch of @NASA #SMAP satellite at 6:20 a.m. PT

 
 
NASA | SMAP Radiometer versus Radio Frequency Interference
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoETi2MfJLk

Цитата
The microwave radiometer on NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite was designed and built at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Along with the microwave radar, data fr om the radiometer will be used to calculate the water content of Earth's soil. Instrument Scientist Jeff Piepmeier explains the technology that Goddard incorporated in the radiometer.

All types of soil emit microwave radiation, but the amount of water changes how much of this energy is emitted. The drier the soil, the more microwave energy; the wetter the soil, the less energy.

But radio frequency interference is a problem, even though the instrument is passively listening in a region of the microwave spectrum wh ere transmission is prohibited. Some of the signals from the surrounding regions leak into the protected "listen-only" band. Goddard engineers developed new hardware and software to search for and cut out the erroneous measurements.


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Изменено: che wi - 29.01.2015 10:21:42
 
Delta II Rocket Will Also Carry Two Tiny Twins Into Space, FIREBIRD II CubeSats
http://www.hngn.com/articles/64702/20150129/delta-ii-rocket-will-carry-two-tiny-twins-space-firebird.htm

Цитата
Tiny twin satellites each only a little bigger than a juice box will be launched into space fr om Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 9:20 a.m. (EST) on Thursday. The cubes were partially built by the University of New Hampshire's Space Science Center, according to a press release by the university's Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space (EOS).

The cubes are called Focused Investigations of Relativistic Electron Burst Intensity, Range, and Dynamics (FIREBIRD II) "CubeSats." They will be added to the contents of the Delta II rocket carrying NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission satellite.

So, what are these mini-mighty satellites going to do? They will probe an area 400 miles above Earth for a dangerous mission - investigating microbursts.

Microbursts, according to the press release, occur when electrons make quick (nearly the speed of light) - but short-lived (100 milliseconds) - bursts. Scientists believe that microbursts are the main cause of the Earth's outer radiation belt losing particles after solar storms. The storms - and resulting change in radiation - can be hazardous to technology floating in space.

"We care about this because the belts' high-energy particles, particularly the electrons, pose a real risk to spacecraft," said Harlan Spence, UNH principal investigator for the FIREBIRD II mission. "So if we understand these physical processes better, we'll be able to predict how the radiation belts will behave and both protect the satellites we depend upon for telecommunications, weather monitoring and prediction, etcetera and design them to withstand this high-energy radiation."

The original 2013 FIREBIRD mission provided the best microburst data, according to Spence, "despite the size of the spacecraft." FIREBIRD II is expected "to provide the very first characterization of the spatial scale of microbursts, without which scientists won't fully understand the global consequences of the loss of energetic particles to Earth's atmosphere," according to the press release.

"We are starting to look in the key energy range of interest between what we see with the FIREBIRD nanosatellites and what we see with the Van Allen Probes, and from those comparisons we can start learning about the physics of how particles are lost from the radiation belts to the atmosphere," Spence said, according to the press release.

The satellites will share the ride to outer space (cutting costs) and be able to go to dangerous areas wh ere bigger satellites can't. Once NASA launches them though the CubeSat Launch Initiative's Educational Launch of Nanoatellites Program, the CubeSats will be tucked away into a Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployer (P-POD) and ejected from the Delta II. After 60 minutes, the cubes will turn on and start transmitting data, according to the press release.

The endeavor is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) CubeSat-based Science Missions for Geospace and Atmospheric Research Program.

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