NASA will launch 1 Earth observation satellite, 4 CubeSats on Monday
The US space agency NASA on Monday authorized the launch of Landsat 9, a powerful Earth observation satellite and four tiny satellites. The Landsat 9 satellite is a joint mission of NASA and the US Geological Survey (USGS) that will continue the legacy of monitoring the terrestrial and coastal regions of the Earth that began with the first Landsat satellite in 1972.
The launch of Landsat 9 is scheduled for Monday at 2:11 p.m. EDT (11:41 p.m. India time) on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex 3 of the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
The rocket will bring Landsat 9 into orbit 438 miles above Earth, NASA said in a statement.
Landsat 9 will join its sister satellite, Landsat 8, in orbit to collect images of the entire planet every eight days. This calibrated data will continue the essential role of the Landsat program in monitoring the health of the Earth and helping people manage essential resources, including crops, irrigation water, and forests.
The four CubeSats, miniature satellites, will also be launched on the same Atlas V rocket.
While some of the missions have adorable names, they are dubbed CUTE (Colorado Ultraviolet Transit Experiment), CuPID (Cusp Plasma Imaging Detector), and Cesium Satellites 1 and 2 – these little satellites are pioneers of serious science and technology, NASA said.
The four CubeSats will be mounted on a ring-shaped frame, called ESPA (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Secondary Payload Adapter).
The ESPA will roll with Landsat 9 inside the top of the rocket, the payload fairing. After the second stage of the rocket, called the Centaur, safely propels Landsat 9 into orbit, it will fall into a lower orbit and send the CubeSats on their way, NASA said.
CuPID will study the limits of the Earth’s magnetic field, to see how energy from the Sun can flow through our planet’s magnetic shield, while CUTE will train its telescope to planets outside our solar system to study how fast their atmospheres escape.
Cesium Satellites 1 and 2 are experimental satellites belonging to CesiumAstro, an aerospace company specializing in space communications. These CubeSats will test an antenna technology called an active phased array array, which uses electromagnetic interference to move a signal beam without moving the physical antenna.
This technology could make future satellites easier to use and repair, with fewer moving parts to break.
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