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Blue Ray Space Holder MARCH 10, 1998

Press Release from USRA:

UNIVERSITY-BUILT SATELLITE BEGINS SCIENTIFIC DATA COLLECTION

The first in a series of NASA-funded, student-built, and student-operated satellites was successfully launched late February 25 by the Pegasus XL launch vehicle operating out of Vandenberg Air Force Base. The Student Nitric Oxide Explorer (SNOE) satellite was designed, built, and will be operated by students and their advisors from the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) in Boulder. It is the first of three student satellites in the Student Explorer Demonstration Initiative (STEDI) program managed for NASA by Universities Space Research Association (USRA). SNOE's orbit is a near-perfect circular 540x580km at 97.75 degrees inclination. Operations during the past week have been to check out all the systems verifying their health, and allowing them to stabilize in their new thermal environment. All systems are operating normally and are well within expected limits. Mission operations are being controlled at the Project Operations and Control Center (POCC) in the LASP Space Technology Research Building at the University of Colorado. The flight controllers, who monitor and control the satellite in real-time and the flight engineers, who analyze spacecraft performance and plan and schedule spacecraft operations are university students. During the early phase of the mission, the POCC will be staffed around the clock; after that, staffing will be scaled down to a single daily shift during normal working hours.

Spacecraft checkout and the early orbit campaign are ahead of schedule. This week SNOE has begun collecting data in fulfillment of the mission's scientific objectives to determine how variations in the solar soft x-radiation produce changes in the density of nitric oxide in the lower thermosphere and how auroral activity produces increased nitric oxide in the polar region. Nitric oxide is an important minor constituent of the upper atmosphere that exhibits strong solar-terrestrial coupling. Nitric oxide directly affects the composition of the ionosphere and the thermal structure of the thermosphere, and it may be transported downward into the mesosphere and stratosphere where it can react with ozone. Nitric oxide reacts chemically with ozone to form nitrogen dioxide which in turn reacts with atomic oxygen to reform nitric oxide. This is a catalytic cycle which destroys ozone while leaving the odd-nitrogen intact. Any nitric oxide that is transported downward from the lower thermosphere into the mesosphere and stratosphere may participate in the catalytic destruction of ozone. An opportune time for downward transport to take place is during polar night when photodissociation of nitric oxide does not occur.

SNOE carries three scientific instruments: an ultraviolet spectrometer (UVS) to measure nitric oxide altitude profiles, a two-channel auroral photometer (AP) to measure auroral emissions beneath the spacecraft, and a five-channel solar soft X-ray photometer (SXP). The SXP was turned on March 1 and began taking data. The UVS instrument began operating on March 3 and the AP was turned on yesterday, March 5. All three instruments are operating normally and the preliminary analyses of the data is underway. In addition to the scientific instruments, SNOE also carries a special Global Positioning System (GPS) technology investigation built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Data is being collected from this device, as well, and it appears to be operating as expected. The GPS data are being forwarded to JPL for analysis.

According to Dr. Paul Coleman, president of USRA, "We proposed the STEDI program to NASA because we thought we could demonstrate the advantages of NASA's experimental, hands-off approach to the management of NASA-funded space flight missions. With this 'privatization' we intended to show that such projects could be done faster, so that they would better fit the research schedule of a graduate student scientist or engineer; and cheaper, so that many more could be done at the nation's colleges and universities. We hoped to show also that these faster, cheaper missions could contribute important scientific results or meet significant technology development objectives, and, therefore, that they should be an integral part of the nation's civil space program. With SNOE, Professor Barth's team has shown that STEDI-class satellite missions can be done not only faster and cheaper, but also superbly. They have defined a world-class research mission and developed a sophisticated and complex spacecraft for that mission, and the spacecraft is performing flawlessly. Just as importantly, from USRA's point of view, they have done so while providing outstanding education and training for a substantial number of the engineers and scientists of the next generation."

The Colorado students have made significant contributions to all phases of the design and fabrication of the spacecraft. Well over 100, including some high school students from a computer drafting class at Arapahoe High School in Littleton, Colorado, have participated in the project to date. The CU-Boulder students tapped into the expertise of engineers from LASP, Ball Aerospace Corp. of Boulder and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, working with them in all phases of the project. "The students brought enthusiasm, new perspectives and the ability to work long and productive hours," Stan Solomon, Deputy PI, said. "In some cases they managed to solve problems that stumped the rest of us." Some alumni, now beginning their careers in the aerospace industry, returned for launch and first contact; other project alumni connected via phone and computer networks for the launch. Others follow progress of the mission on the SNOE website: http://lasp.colorado.edu/snoe/. "We are very pleased that SNOE operations are off to such a good start," said Jack Sevier, USRA's STEDI Program Manager. "The folks at Colorado have done a great job getting to this point and we really appreciate how supportive all the NASA people have been throughout the program. Also, USRA has been fortunate to have had the help and advice of a number of aerospace veterans who believed in the program and wanted to see it succeed. Thanks to each and everyone who were involved."

Blue Ray Space Holder






Blue Ray Space Holder MARCH 10, 1998

Press Release from the University of Colorado:

SATELLITE BEGINS RETURNING SCIENCE DATA

Three science instruments launched Feb. 26 aboard a $5 million satellite designed and built by CU-Boulder students, faculty and engineers have been turned on and are returning data, said project scientists. Called the Student Nitric Oxide Explorer, or SNOE, the satellite carries an ultraviolet spectrometer and two photometers to measure nitric oxide in the upper atmosphere, X-rays from the sun and light from the Earth's aurora. Nitric oxide is a small but reactive component of the upper atmosphere that affects the temperature and density of near-Earth space and may be important to the chemistry of the ozone layer, said Stan Solomon, deputy investigator on the project. Developed at CU-Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, the NASA mission is being controlled from LASP's Research Park facility in Boulder 24 hours a day by students and faculty. "The science data we are getting back from the satellite look great," said Solomon. "NASA has been very supportive, and things are going smoothly." The design and construction phase involved about 110 CU-Boulder students, primarily undergraduates, said Solomon, who is coordinating the SNOE effort with principal investigator and LASP Professor Charles Barth. The $5 million includes the cost of the spacecraft, instruments and mission operations. SNOE is only the second NASA satellite to be entirely operated and controlled by a university. The first, the Solar Mesosphere Explorer satellite, which gathered data on ozone and solar radiation variability from 1981 to 1988, also was controlled from CU-Boulder under the direction of Barth, said Solomon. SNOE was one of three spacecraft selected for flight by the Universities Space Research Association in 1994 as part of NASA's Student Explorer Demonstration Initiative. The CU-Boulder spacecraft, the first to launch, will be followed by a Boston University satellite later this year. The students tapped into the expertise of engineers from LASP, Ball Aerospace Corp. of Boulder and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, working with them in all phases of the project. "The students brought enthusiasm, new perspectives and the ability to work long and productive hours," Solomon said. "In some cases they managed to solve problems that stumped the rest of us." The original goals of the initiative were to demonstrate the feasibility of designing and building small, relatively low-cost spacecraft that could accomplish beneficial science and include significant student participation, said Solomon. "The people who dreamed up NASA's Student Explorer program remember the dawn of the space age, when spacecraft could be built and launched swiftly and cheaply with direct student involvement," he said. "We wanted to capture some of that magic, and we think we have." The three-foot diameter, 250-pound spacecraft was launched on a 55-foot-long Pegasus expendable-launch vehicle built by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va. The Pegasus was carried to an altitude of 40,000 feet by a jet aircraft and dropped into a five-second free fall. It then ignited horizontally and began ascending, placing SNOE in a circular orbit about 340 miles above Earth within 10 minutes. LASP satellite operations manager Randy Davis, also in charge of controlling two British technology satellites from the CU operations facility, was relieved when the science data began rolling in. "It was a real treat for me to see the students enjoying themselves so much over the course of this project," he says. "And space missions are surely a lot more fun when they work." The mission operations phase, expected to continue for at least one year, will be supported in part by a special excellence award from the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. "We are keeping our fingers crossed that we can continue the mission for a longer period, providing more students with flight operations and data analysis experience," said spacecraft manager and LASP researcher Jim Westfall. "It was an amazing experience to actually work on a satellite," says aerospace engineering graduate student Aimee Merkel, the project leader on the UV spectrograph who began on the SNOE project as an undergraduate. "I think we all have a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction."

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Blue Ray Space Holder Feb. 26, 1998

Pegasus/SNOE Press Release from KSC/VAFB:

PEGASUS/SNOE SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHED

The launch of the Student Nitric Oxide Explorer (SNOE) spacecraft aboard an Orbital Sciences Pegasus rocket occurred as planned on Feb. 25 at 11:05 p.m. PST. The Pegasus was dropped from an L-1011 aircraft 100 miles west of Monterey, CA, over the Pacific Ocean. "It was a quiet and uneventful countdown," said NASA Launch Manager Ray Lugo. "The launch was perfect." The first data from the spacecraft was received at 12:30 a.m. PST by the Poker Flats, AK, tracking station and relayed to the NASA telemetry facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA. "After the first orbit, the data from the spacecraft were exactly what we were hoping to see," said Dr. Charles Barth, SNOE Principal Investigator from the University of Colorado at Boulder. SNOE is an Earth-orbiting satellite designed and built by a team of Boulder students, faculty and engineers who were selected to develop the mission by the Universities Space Research Association with funding from NASA. SNOE carries an ultraviolet spectrometer and two photometers to measure the effects of the sun's x-ray radiation and magnetic field on nitric oxide production. This is believed to affect the variability in the Earth's upper atmosphere.

Blue Ray Space Holder






Blue Ray Space Holder Feb. 25, 1998

Press Release from the University of Colorado:

STUDENT NITRIC OXIDE EXPLORER LAUNCHES

The Student Nitric Oxide Explorer (SNOE) satellite, designed and built at the University of Colorado, blasted into space just after midnight on Thursday Feb. 26. A Pegasus XL rocket supplied by the Orbital Sciences Corporation, performed perfectly and placed SNOE in a 300-mile high orbit. The first communications contact with the spacecraft was made at 1:30 a.m. by flight controllers at the CU Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, supported by NASA data relay through Poker Flat, Alaska. All SNOE spacecraft systems appear to be in good working order. Scientific instruments will be turned on next week. The satellite will be operated around the clock during the few days of the mission; after that operations will phase back to two contacts per day. During the intensive initial phase, engineers and students at LASP are studying the performance of the spacecraft. Many CU alumni who worked on the SNOE project returned for launch and first contact. Experts in thermal design, attitude control, and electrical engineering, trained on SNOE but now employed statewide, were there to advise on the interpretation of the early engineering data. Others from around the country connected on voice and computer networks.

Blue Ray Space Holder






Blue Ray Space Holder Feb. 24, 1998

Press Release from the University of Colorado:

SNOE STUDENT SATELLITE LAUNCH NOW SET FOR FEB. 25

The launch of a $5 million student satellite designed and built by a team at the University of Colorado at Boulder, which has been delayed by stormy weather in California since Feb. 4, is now slated for launch on Feb. 25. The satellite, known as the Student Nitric Oxide Explorer, or SNOE, was returned to the runway at Vandenberg Air Force Base aboard a Pegasus rocket on Feb. 21. The rocket was attached to an L-1011 jet aircraft that will carry it to an altitude of 40,000 feet before release. The launch vehicle, built by by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., will then ignite and carry SNOE into orbit. "I'm more optimistic about the weather out there than I have been in almost a month," said Stan Solomon, a research associate at CU-Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics who is coordinating the SNOE effort with LASP Professor Charles Barth. "Everything seems to be in good shape, and I think the satellite is finally going to go." Begun in 1995, the design and construction of SNOE has involved more than 110 students and a number of LASP faculty members and engineers. The team hopes to make contact with the satellite several hours after the 11 p.m. PST launch on Feb. 25. The satellite will be controlled 24 hours a day from the CU-Boulder campus by faculty and students. SNOE was one of three spacecraft selected for flight by the Universities Space Research Association in 1994 as part of NASA's Student Explorer Demonstration Initiative. The satellite will measure nitric oxide in the upper atmosphere that affects Earth's ozone layer, the intensity of x-rays from the sun and ultraviolet light from Earth's aurora.

Blue Ray Space Holder






Blue Ray Space Holder Feb. 23, 1998

SNOE/BATSAT press release from the Orbital Sciences Corporation:

ORBITAL'S PEGASUS LAUNCH OF SNOE AND BATSAT SATELLITES SET FOR FEBRUARY 25

Company to Conduct 20th Mission of Pegasus Rocket

Orbital Sciences Corporation (NASDAQ: ORBI) announced today that the next launch of the company's Pegasus rocket is now planned for Wednesday, February 25, 1998. The mission was originally scheduled for February 4 but was delayed due to poor weather conditions in California. On this mission, the 20th in the Pegasus program's history, Orbital will launch two satellites, NASA's Student Nitric Oxide Explorer (SNOE) and the Orbital-built Broadband Advanced Technology (BATSAT) communications satellite. The launch will originate from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and is subject to final preparations and testing, as well as acceptable weather conditions at the launch site. On the launch day, Orbital's L-1011 aircraft will carry the winged Pegasus XL rocket to approximately 39,000 feet at a predetermined location over the Pacific Ocean, where the rocket will be released. After a flight of approximately 11 minutes, Pegasus will first deliver SNOE into its planned circular orbit at an altitude of 580 kilometers, inclined at 97.75 degrees. The rocket will then deploy the BATSAT satellite into approximately the same orbit. The SNOE/BATSAT launch is scheduled to occur at approximately 11:04 p.m. (PST), with a time window that extends from about 11:00 p.m. to 11:10 p.m. (PST). Initial information from the SNOE satellite is expected to be gathered as it passes over a ground station at Poker Flat, Alaska, about an hour and a half after its deployment. Information from BATSAT should be received about nine hours after launch at Orbital's satellite ground control station at the company's Dulles, Virginia, headquarters. The SNOE spacecraft and its instruments were designed and built by a student team at the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics under the Student Explorer Demonstration Initiative (STEDI) program, which is funded by NASA and managed by the Universities Space Research Association. The 254 pound SNOE satellite will investigate the effects of energy from the sun and the magnetosphere on the density of nitric oxide in the Earth's upper atmosphere. The extreme variability of nitric oxide may be important to ozone chemistry in the middle atmosphere as well. BATSAT is a 154 pound commercial communications satellite based on Orbital's MicroStar spacecraft platform. Originally developed to meet the cost and schedule requirements of the ORBCOMM communications system, the disc-shaped MicroStar has served as the basis for 13 satellites that are in orbit and operating successfully today. The latest launch of MicroStar satellites occurred on February 10, 1998, when two ORBCOMM satellites were deployed by Orbital's Taurus rocket. Almost 30 more MicroStar satellites are now in production for ORBCOMM and other programs. Orbital is a space and information systems company that designs, manufactures, operates and markets a broad range of affordable space infrastructure systems, satellite access products and satellite-provided services including launch vehicles, satellites, sensors and electronics, satellite ground systems and software, satellite-based navigation and communications products, and satellite-delivered fixed and mobile communications and Earth imaging services.

Blue Ray Space Holder






Blue Ray Space Holder Feb. 11, 1998

Press Release from the University of Colorado:

SNOE DELAYED BY EL NINO

Launch of the Student Nitric Oxide Explorer (SNOE) satellite has been postponed until Feb. 20 due to storms, high winds, and flooding in southern California. "We knew El Nino was coming, but didn't expect it would be anything like this", said Mission Operations Manager Sean Ryan. After launch was postponed, Principal Investigator Prof. Charles Barth was caught by highway closures between the launch site at Vandenburg Air Force Base and Los Angeles International Airport while attempting to get a flight back to Colorado. Barth and the launch operations team finally managed to return to Colorado, while Ryan and a relief team have gone to Vandenburg to monitor the satellite. SNOE and the Pegasus XL rocket that will launch it have been returned to a secure indoor facility to wait out the next series of storms.
Designed and built by students, faculty, and engineers at the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, SNOE is a scientific, Earth-orbiting satellite mission. It will carry instruments to measure nitric oxide in the upper atmosphere, the intensity of x-rays from the sun, and ultraviolet light from Earth's aurora. For more information and launch updates, see http://lasp.colorado.edu/snoe.

Blue Ray Space Holder






Blue Ray Space Holder Feb. 2, 1998

Press Release from the University of Colorado:

CU STUDENT SATELLITE SET FOR LAUNCH FEB. 4

A $5 million Earth-orbiting satellite designed and built by a team of University of Colorado at Boulder students, faculty and engineers is currently slated for launch from California's Vandenburg Air Force Base on Feb. 4. Called the Student Nitric Oxide Explorer, or SNOE, the satellite will carry instruments to measure nitric oxide in the upper atmosphere that affects Earth's ozone layer, the intensity of x-rays from the sun and ultraviolet light from Earth's aurora. Developed at CU-Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, the mission will be controlled from LASP's CU Research Park facility 24 hours a day by students and faculty, said Stan Solomon, deputy co-investigator on the project. "We're ready for launch," said Solomon. "I know that SNOE alumni throughout the country who contributed to the project are excited that we're finally going to orbit after more than three years." The design and construction phase involved about 110 CU-Boulder students, primarily undergraduates, said Solomon, who is coordinating the SNOE effort with principal investigator and LASP Professor Charles Barth. The initial SNOE design work also involved students from a computer drafting class at Arapahoe High School in Littleton. SNOE was one of three spacecraft selected for flight by the Universities Space Research Association in 1994 as part of NASA's Student Explorer Demonstration Initiative. The CU spacecraft will be the first to launch, followed by a Boston University satellite later this year. "The original goals of the initiative were to demonstrate the feasibility of designing and building small, relatively low-cost spacecraft that could accomplish beneficial science and include significant student participation", said Solomon. "We happen to be very strong in all three areas." From 1981 to 1989, CU students and faculty controlled the Solar Mesosphere Explorer satellite from campus, the first NASA satellite ever entirely operated and controlled by a university. SNOE will be the second. Senior Erica Rodgers, a Pueblo native who began working on SNOE as a freshman, designed the mechanical and optical components of the solar x-ray photometer. "As the first freshman on the project, I really lucked out," she said. "It will be overwhelming knowing something I built is in orbit." Graduate student Jason Westphal, who wrote SNOE flight software as a junior, said he would not have continued on to graduate school were it not for the project. "This was a rare opportunity," said Westphal, who is now the attitude determination and control engineer for SNOE. "I was in the right place at the right time, and I think the hands-on experience has positioned many SNOE students, including me, for good jobs in the aerospace industry." The three-foot diameter, 220-pound spacecraft will be launched on a Pegasus expendable-launch vehicle built by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va. The Pegasus will be carried to an altitude of 40,000 feet by a jet aircraft and dropped into a five-second free fall. It will then ignite horizontally and begin ascending, placing SNOE in a circular orbit about 340 miles above Earth within 10 minutes. "One of our motivations when we started was to try to rekindle enthusiasm for space exploration," Solomon said. "What we found was that swarms of students wanted to be involved in this project because it provided hands-on experience in the design and fabrication of a real spacecraft." The students tapped into the expertise of engineers from LASP, Ball Aerospace Corp. -- which built the Solar Mesosphere Explorer satellite -- and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, working side by side with them in all phases of the project. The mission operations phase will begin with spacecraft contact from campus about an hour after the 11:59 p.m. MST launch on Feb. 4. The operations, expected to continue for at least one year, will be supported in part by a special excellence award from the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. "People viewing this as an educational project can see the value of the hands-on experience gained by our students," he said. "But significant funding has gone into SNOE, and we believe this mission also is an important part of NASA's overall science program." Additional information on the SNOE project can be found on the World Wide Web at: http://lasp.colorado.edu/snoe/.

Blue Ray Space Holder






Blue Ray Space Holder Dec. 8, 1997

Press Release from the University of Colorado:

CU SATELLITE READY FOR SHIPMENT

A CU-Boulder built satellite known as the Student Nitric Oxide Explorer has been approved by NASA for shipment to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for a Jan. 19 launch. Designed and built by students, faculty and engineers at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, SNOE is a scientific, Earth-orbiting satellite mission, said LASP Research Associate Stan Solomon, deputy co-investigator on the project. SNOE will carry instruments to measure nitric oxide in the upper atmosphere, the intensity of x-rays from the sun and ultraviolet light from Earth's aurora. SNOE will be shipped Dec. 12 by truck to Vandenberg. A Pegasus XL launch system provided by Orbital Sciences Corp. will carry it into space. The mission will be operated by students working at a control center in the LASP Space Technology Building in the CU Research Park, Solomon said. The team plans to establish radio contact with the craft one hour after launch. SNOE is the first satellite in a national program of university-based satellite missions and was supported by a $5 million grant from NASA and the Universities Space Research Association. Mission operations funding will be supported in part by a special excellence award from the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. Over 100 students have participated in the SNOE project to date, he said. "It's been three long years of hard work to get to this point," said Solomon. "I know that SNOE alumni throughout the country who contributed to the project are excited that we're finally going to orbit."

Blue Ray Space Holder






Blue Ray Space Holder June 23, 1997

Press Release from the University of Colorado:

CU SATELLITE TO UNDERGO TESTING AT BALL AEROSPACE

A CU-Boulder student satellite slated for launch in September will be moved from campus June 24 to the Boulder labs of Ball Aerospace for testing. The satellite, known as the Student Nitric Oxide Explorer, or SNOE, is a scientific, earth-orbiting mission. The spacecraft will carry instruments to measure nitric oxide in the upper atmosphere, the intensity of x-rays from the sun and ultraviolet light from the aurora. It was designed and built by students, faculty and engineers at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. SNOE is the first of a series of university-based satellite missions sponsored by NASA and the Universities Space Research Association. The project has involved more than 100 CU-Boulder students, primarily undergraduates. The Ball tests will determine whether the satellite is ready to withstand the rigors of launch and orbital flight, said LASP research associate Stan Solomon, deputy principal investigator for SNOE. The analysis will include vibration tests on a large shake table and a thermal vacuum test in a high-vacuum chamber. SNOE is slated for launch Sept. 30 from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base aboard a Pegasus XL launch system provided by Orbital Sciences Corp. The mission will be operated by students working at a control center at the LASP Space Technology Center in the CU Research Park. "We probably would not have been chosen to be the first university to build one of these satellites if it hadn't been for the expertise and credibility that comes from our long relationship with Ball Aerospace," said Solomon.

Blue Ray Space Holder






Blue Ray Space Holder May 12, 1997

Press Release from the University of Colorado:

LASP TO HONOR GRADUATING STUDENTS WHO WORKED ON NASA SATELLITE

A tour, talks and presentations on a spacecraft built by students at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics that is now set for launch in late summer or early fall will be held at the CU Research Park May 15. The event at LASP's Space Technology Building, which begins at 8:30 a.m., will honor graduating seniors who have worked on the Student Nitric Oxide Explorer satellite. The event includes talks by participating CU students and faculty as well as Universities Space Research Association President Paul Coleman. USRA is co-sponsoring the mission with NASA. CU faculty speakers include LASP senior researcher and SNOE principal investigator Charles Barth, Graduate School Dean Carol Lynch, LASP Director Dan Baker and aerospace engineering Chair Richard Seebass. SNOE will measure nitric oxide in the upper atmosphere, the intensity of X-rays from the sun and ultraviolet light from Earth's aurora. More than 100 students, primarily undergraduates, have participated in designing and building the $4.4 million spacecraft since it was begun in 1994. Once in orbit, SNOE will be controlled from campus by students and faculty from the LASP facility in the CU Research Park.

Blue Ray Space Holder






Blue Ray Space Holder Feb. 23, 1995

Press Release from the University of Colorado:

NASA SATELLITE TO BE CONTROLLED FROM CU BY STUDENTS AND FACULTY

A $4.4 million University of Colorado at Boulder satellite selected by NASA last week for construction and eventual flight will be controlled in orbit from the campus by university students and faculty, according to project scientists. Designed by CU-Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, the satellite will gather information on nitric oxide in the middle and upper atmosphere that directly affects Earth's fragile ozone layer. Slated for launch in March 1997, the spacecraft is expected to remain in orbit at least one year, said LASP research associate Stan Solomon. Known as the Student Nitric Oxide Explorer, or SNOE, the satellite will be built primarily by students at LASP's Space Technology Building in the CU Research Park, he said. Ball Aerospace Corp. of Boulder has supplied a team of engineering specialists to consult with students and faculty on the project. "This project offers us an opportunity to rekindle some of the early excitement of the space age," said Solomon. "It will provide students with hands-on involvement in the design and fabrication of the spacecraft." The CU effort will involve about 30 undergraduates and 10 graduate students over the project's lifetime, said Solomon, who is coordinating SNOE with LASP Professor Charles Barth. The project also will involve a computer drafting class from Arapahoe High School in Littleton. "We hope some of these high school students will subsequently go on to become involved in this project at CU-Boulder," said Solomon. "The idea here is to excite and educate the next generation of aerospace professionals." The CU-Boulder satellite was one oftwo selected for flight by the Universities Space Research Association as part of the Student Explorer Demonstration Initiative. The other spacecraft selected for flight is an ultraviolet satellite under development at Boston University. Both satellite projects are being funded by NASA to assess the potential of smaller, low-cost space missions, according to the Universities Space Research Association. USRA is a consortium of national universities administering the program for NASA. SNOE follows LASP's highly successful Solar Mesosphere Explorer Satellite, which orbited Earth from 1981 to 1988 and was the only NASA satellite ever entirely operated and controlled by a university. Nicknamed "the classroom in space," SME measured ozone and solar radiation 30 miles to 50 miles above Earth and provided some of the first evidence for ozone depletion and new information on the sun's variability over time. Sixty-six proposals were submitted by universities in 1994 for the student satellite demonstration program. Six of the proposals -- including a second CU-Boulder satellite proposed by the Colorado Space Grant Consortium -- were selected for further study last September. SNOE will carry an ultraviolet spectrometer and two photometers to measure the concentrations, variability and chemistry of nitric oxide in the middle and upper atmosphere, said Solomon. Measuring the effects of the sun's x-ray radiation and magnetic field on nitric oxide production in Earth's atmosphere should provide new information on natural climate variability. "The sun affects Earth in a variety of ways," he said. "Understanding the effects of solar variability has long been a goal of space physics and climate research, and we hope to contribute significantly through this project." The LASP satellite will be flown in a circular orbit at an altitude of about 340 miles, said Solomon. The three-foot diameter, 220-pound spacecraft will be launched by a Pegasus expendable-launch vehicle and will be controlled from CU's Space Technology Building. Several scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder also are participating in the program, said Solomon. The Ball engineers consulting with LASP on the project also will lecture at CU-Boulder on various aspects of spacecraft engineering, he said. CU-Boulder plans to develop a variety of K-12 outreach and education programs in Colorado related to SNOE, said Solomon.

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snoe@lasp.colorado.edu
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