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Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

The CIRBE (Colorado Inner Radiation Belt Experiment) satellite is a 3U (10cm x 10cm x 30cm) CubeSat with the mission of allowing scientists to gain a better understanding of the formation of the inner radiation belt electrons as well as determine where these particles come from and how they behave. The proposed goal of the CIRBE mission is to provide state-of-the-art measurements of .3-3.5 MeV electrons (and 6-35 MeV protons) in the Earth’s radiation belt in a highly inclined Low Earth Orbit.

Mission Overview

Below is the CIRBE mission concept of operations. Launch is expected to take place in late 2022 or early 2023. The launch provider is not yet known but the slot is provided by NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative, which pairs CubeSat missions with launch providers. Once in orbit, the spacecraft will deploy from the payload space of the rocket and begin commissioning. The solar panels will deploy and the spacecraft will power on. Once the spacecraft is fully deployed, science collection will begin. The CIRBE instrument, REPTile-2 (Relativistic Electron Proton Telescope integrated little experiment – 2) will measure the energies of incident electrons and protons and the data will be downlinked to the ground via s-band radio. At the end of the mission, the spacecraft’s orbit will begin to degrade. Eventually, the spacecraft will re-enter the atmosphere and burn up.


CIRBE Mission Concept of Operations

In order to take measurements of incident electrons and protons, the instrument boresite must be pointed perpendicular to the local magnetic field. The solar panels must always face the sun such that they are perpendicular to the sun vector. These requirements result in a specific alignment of the spacecraft at each point in orbit. This is shown in the figure below.


CIRBE Orbit Concept of Operations