Morehead State University Cosmic X-Ray Background Nanosatellite (CXBN-2) - 07.19.17

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Morehead State University Cosmic X-Ray Background Nanosatellite (CXBN-2) is a second-generation nanosatellite that refines critical measurements for explaining the origin of the Universe. It uses an advanced materials detector system, a novel instrument configuration and a detector array twice the size of that used by the preceding CXBN mission. Data collected by the instrument minimizes critical uncertainties in subtle signals left over from the Big Bang and may clarify other sources of interstellar radiation as well. The instrument collects data for a year’s time and enlists the help of citizen scientists and K-12 groups in satellite tracking.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Benjamin Malphrus, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom:

Principal Investigator(s)
Benjamin Malphrus, Ph.D., Morehead State University, Morehead, KY, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Information Pending

Developer(s)
Morehead State University, Morehead, KY, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

Research Benefits
Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2016 - September 2017

Expeditions Assigned
49/50,51/52

Previous Missions
Morehead State University Cosmic X-Ray Background Nanosatellite (CXBN-2) is a follow-on mission to CXBN, a 2-U cubesat that was launched on September 13, 2012 as a secondary payload on the NASA ELaNa VI OUTSat mission.

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Morehead State University Cosmic X-Ray Background Nanosatellite (CXBN-2) is a 2U CubeSat follow-on to CXBN.
  • Morehead State University-CXBN-2 was selected by the NASA Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) program.
  • The goal of the Morehead State University-CXBN-2 is to measure the cosmic X-Ray background to a precision of less than five percent.
  • An understanding of the cosmic X-Ray background lends insight into the physics of the early universe.
  • Although studied previously, existing measurements disagree by about 20%.

Description

The goal of the Morehead State University Cosmic X-Ray Background Nanosatellite (CXBN-2) mission is to increase the precision of measurements of the Cosmic X-Ray Background in the 30-50 keV range top a precision of less than 5%, thereby constraining models that attempt to explain the relative contribution of proposed sources lending insight into the underlying physics of the early universe. The mission addresses a fundamental science question that is clearly central to our understanding of the structure, origin, and evolution of the universe by potentially lending insight into both the high energy background radiation and into the evolution of primordial galaxies. Morehead State University-CXBN-2 maps the Extragalactic Diffuse X-Ray Background (DXB) with a new breed of Cadmium Zinc Telluride (CZT) detector (first flown on CXBN) but with twice the detector array area of its precursor and with careful characterization and calibration. The DXB is a powerful tool for understanding the early universe and provides a window to the most energetic objects in the far-away universe. Although studied previously, existing measurements disagree by about 20%. With the novel CZT detector aboard Morehead State University-CXBN-2 and an improved array configuration, a new, high precision measurement is possible. In approximately 1 year of operation the experiment collects 3 million seconds of good data, reaching a broadband S/N approximately 250. The science mission requirements fortunately allow for the design of a relatively simple spacecraft, making this mission ideal for the CubeSat form factor.
 
The science measurements that are performed with Morehead State University-CXBN-2 represents an improvement over the initial CXBN mission owing to 4 enhancements:
 
  1. the addition of a second CZT array doubles the array area representing a √2 increase in statistics and increased reliability through redundancy,
  2. careful characterization of the CZT arrays on the ground pre-flight. Hot pixels are eliminated and the energy response of the array is mapped allowing more effective interpretation of the science data,
  3. careful calibration of the array for both flux and gain using calibrated Americium-241 sources on the ground and on-orbit,
  4. extensive GEometry ANd Tracking (GEANT) simulation of the contribution of secondary particles from cosmic ray protons interacting with the spacecraft structures that are reduced from the data to improve the accuracy of the measurements.

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Applications

Space Applications
The discovery and interpretation of cosmic background radiation was one of the most important breakthroughs of the twentieth century, garnering major scientific awards and inspiring the public. Morehead State University Cosmic X-Ray Background Nanosatellite (CXBN-2) instruments help focus the understanding of critical and inspiring questions surrounding the origin of the Universe. The instrument may also identify new sources of radiation, potentially creating new research areas in cosmology. The satellite’s advanced detector system is also used in medicine and security applications. These fields may benefit from technological and engineering advances achieved by Morehead State University-CXBN-2 deployment. Finally, the instrument’s public engagement strategy promotes science literacy and public understanding of how technology is used to solve fundamental problems in science.

Earth Applications
Space travel and space-related remote sensing tasks require highly sensitive detectors and a focused understanding of energy sources in the space environment. These applications also depend on the continued development of nanosatellite technology. Morehead State University Cosmic X-Ray Background Nanosatellite (CXBN-2) demonstrates how detector systems and nanosatellite capabilities can improve our imagery and maps of space. The instrument also contributes to fundamental scientific understanding concerning the nature and evolution of the space environment.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols
With the novel CZT detector aboard the Morehead State University Cosmic X-Ray Background Nanosatellite (CXBN-2) and an improved array configuration, a new, high precision measurement is possible. In approximately one year of operation the experiment collects three million seconds of good data, reaching a broadband S/N approximately 250. NanoRacks’ customers’ CubeSats are delivered to the ISS already integrated within a NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD). A crew member transfers each NRCSD from the launch vehicle to the JEM. Visual inspection for damage to each NRCSD is performed. When CubeSat deployment operations begin, the NRCSDs are unpacked, mounted on the JAXA Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform (MPEP) and placed on the JEM airlock slide table for transfer outside the ISS. A crew member operates the JEM Remote Manipulating System (JRMS) – to grapple and position for deployment. CubeSats are deployed when JAXA ground controllers command a specific NRCSD.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites

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Imagery

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CXBN-2 Flight and Engineering Models in the Morehead State University Spacecraft Integration and Assembly Facility. Image courtesy of Morehead State University.

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