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Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

6 months on orbit! A few more to go

November 17, 2016

altitude-decayNovember 16 marked 6 months on orbit for MinXSS-1! Operations are continuing nominally and we’re still collecting science data. Fingers crossed for some more solar flares soon.

We’ve been tracking the altitude decay of the spacecraft and projecting how much longer the mission may last. The bottom line: a few more months, probably. This plot shows the actual MinXSS-1 altitude in black and an exponential fit to that data in red. We use that fit to extrapolate to 300 km (where the mission will likely be over as the spacecraft burns up in the atmosphere) and 0 km when you can be absolutely sure it’s over. Note that nothing is actually going to hit the ground. The whole spacecraft will be dust that will eventually settle on the ground with less energy than a feather touching down. Before MinXSS is dust in the wind though, it’ll keep on measuring those solar x-rays.