Public Lectures

Three launches in one season: LASP’s diverse science and suborbital talent

Published on August 30, 2021

Speaker:James Mason
Date:Wednesday, Oct 06, 2021
Location:Zoom (Video link on this lecture's webpage)

Seminar Abstract:

Video of Zoom Webinar Here:

LASP has been busy this fall with the launch of three small missions:

  • A sounding rocket launched September 9, carrying the calibration instruments for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), plus bonus instruments built in staff garages. This ~biennial flight tracks the degradation of SDO instruments over time, allowing corrections to ensure the highest-quality data from the $1 billion mission.
  • CUTE, a shoebox-sized CubeSat satellite, watches exoplanets transit in front of their host stars, measuring the ultraviolet spectrum to detect the chemical fingerprints of each planet’s atmosphere. CUTE returns atmospheric escape rates and is searching for the first concrete evidence of exoplanet magnetospheres.
  • INSPIRESat-1 carries Earth- and solar-observing instruments. At night, the small satellite measures Earth’s ionosphere for plasma bubbles and variability of the midnight temperature maximum. During the day, it measures solar X-rays to track how plasma at the solar surface blasts up into the corona during flares.

In this talk, LASP scientist James Mason will discuss how LASP has been preparing for three small satellite and sounding rocket launches and will present an exciting launch video. These smaller missions are a fast-growing and flexible segment for the lab and promise to return an abundance of diverse and exciting science.