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Artist's rendition of the FASTSat-HSV spacecraft in orbit. Credit NASA/Dynetics Launch of the FASTSAT Satellite is scheduled for this Friday night, November 19, at 8:24 PM ET on a Minotaur IV launch vehicle from the Alaska Aerospace Corporations Kodiak Launch Complex on Kodiak Island, Alaska.
The launch can be viewed on the web at this page, http://www.nasa.gov/fastsat, on Friday, Nov. 19, starting at 8 p.m. ET.
FASTSAT will carry six small payloads to low Earth orbit, demonstrating a critical ability to provide low-cost opportunities for scientific and technical payloads to get to space. FASTSAT is NASA's first microsatellite designed to create a capability that increases opportunities for secondary, scientific and technology payloads, or rideshares, to be flown at lower cost than previously possible. It serves as a bus or platform that puts scientific research on the affordable fast track for governmental, academic and industry researchers.
Three science instruments, designed to monitor space weather and gauge how it affects the Earth's upper atmosphere and magnetosphere, were built at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, in partnership with the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD. They are:
- TTI (Thermosphere Temperature Imager),
- MINI-ME, a low-energy neutral atom imager to detect neutral atoms formed in the plasma population of the Earth's outer atmosphere to improve global space weather prediction,
- PISA (Plasma and Impedence Spectrum Analyzer).
Should FASTSAT launch as planned, the instrumentation for Goddard's Thermospheric Temperature Imager (TTI), Miniature Imager for Neutral Ionospheric Atoms and Magnetospheric Electrons (MINI-ME), and Plasma Impedance Spectrum Analyzer (PISA) will be powered up sequentially on Monday, Nov. 22, for short aliveness tests throughout the day. The tests will confirm that the instruments are functioning properly after their ride on the rocket. The Goddard team will begin acquiring science data after the end of the spacecraft checkout phase, which is expected to last a few weeks.
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