MINI-ME to uncover secrets of outer layers of Earth’s atmosphere

March 12th, 2010 - 2:16 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, March 12 (ANI): Reports indicate that and three scientific instruments will fly soon on the FASTSAT-HSV01 satellite to uncover the secrets in the outer layers of Earth’s atmosphere.

Known as MINI-ME, PISA and TTI, these instruments recently passed a series of important final tests to prove their readiness for spaceflight.

These instruments were conceived and built at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and were integrated to the satellite and tested at NASA’s Marshall Spaceflight Center, Huntsville, Alabama.

MINI-ME, acronym for Miniature Imager for Neutral Ionospheric atoms and Magnetospheric Electrons, is a low energy neutral atom imager which will detect neutral atoms formed in the plasma population of the Earth’s outer atmosphere to improve global space weather prediction.

According to Michael Collier, Principal Investigator for the MINI-ME instrument at NASA Goddard, “The satellite has gone through vibration, thermal, and Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) tests and everything looks great. The MINI-ME instrument is performing as expected.”

PISA is an acronym for the Plasma Impedance Spectrum Analyzer, which will test a new measurement technique for the thermal electron populations in the ionosphere, and their density structuring, which can interfere with or scatter radio signals used for communication and navigation.

PISA will tell scientists on Earth when and where the ionosphere becomes structured or turbulent.

That will give us better predictions of how space weather will affect GPS signals.

“PISA has completed the same tests that the Mini-ME endured and has just passed powered Electromagnetic Interference Test. PISA is on track for spacecraft to be packed up and delivered to the launch site,” said Doug Rowland, PISA’s Principal Investigator at NASA Goddard.

The Thermospheric Temperature Imager, or TTI, will provide the first global-scale measurements of thermospheric temperature profiles in the 56-168 mile (90-270 km) region of the Earth’s atmosphere.

The temperature profile sets the scale height of the thermosphere, which determines the density at orbital altitudes, and therefore the aerodynamic drag experienced by military spacecraft.

According to John Sigwarth, TTI’s Principal Investigator at NASA Goddard, “The TTI survived the satellite launch vibration levels, being blasted with radio waves, and the TTI had a great thermal vacuum test.”

“We were able to characterize the operation of the instrument in space-like environments and the TTI is ready for launch. We are eagerly anticipating obtaining great data from orbit,” he said. (ANI)

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