Launch Date: September 13, 2012
End of Mission: December 2014
Lead Institution: LASP
Lead Funding Agency: National Science Foundation
Partners: Aerospace Engineering Department at University of Colorado Boulder
Satellites have become increasingly important for global communications, navigation (GPS), and scientific investigations. However, these electronic systems are vulnerable to attack from the environment in which they operate. Solar wind, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) emit charged particles and electromagnetic (EM) radiation which directly impact the Earth and its magnetosphere. Relativistic electrons (100s keV to multiple MeV) emitted by the Sun become trapped in Earth’s outer radiation belt; such electrons are harmful to spacecraft subsystems and astronauts alike, and are appropriately dubbed “killer electrons.” However, the process by which electrons enter and exit the outer radiation belt is not fully understood. Furthermore, CMEs and some solar flares produce high-energy solar energetic protons (SEPs), which are harmful to astronauts.
By CSSWE sensing the directional flux and energy of both relativistic electrons and protons, a connection was drawn between solar events (flares and CMEs), outer radiation belt evolution, and SEPs. Understanding the coupled dynamics of these events is crucial to determining the effect of solar activity on the satellite systems and developing strategies for predicting and mitigating the impacts.
Please see publication list here: https://lasp.colorado.edu/csswe/media/publications/
The LASP cubesat mission operations and data systems teams provided the commanding, downlink, data capture, and data reduction for CSSWE operations. CSSWE was the first cubesat LASP controlled.