A nano-satellite from the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport will be lifted into space by NASA.
NASA has selected 24 small satellites, including the Discovery Museum one, to fly as auxiliary payloads aboard rockets to be launched from 2014 to 2016. It’s part of the fourth round of NASA’s CubeSat Launch initiative program.
CubeSats belong to a class of research spacecraft called nano-satellites. The cube-shaped base satellites measure about 4 inches on all four sides, have a volume of about 1 quart, and weigh less than 3 pounds.
Detecting space material
The main research payload on board the Discovery Museum’s satellite will be a device to detect the amount of uncontrolled material in orbit, including both natural micro-meteorites and man-made space debris.
“It’s really important to understand how much stuff is in our near-Earth environment, both for future human exploration and for the preservation of orbiting satellites,” said Brendan Hermalyn, principle investigator for the detector.
The Discovery Museum’s satellite will relay data to ground stations, including to the museum in Bridgeport.
A collaborative effort
The museum’s spacecraft will be built and tested in a collaboration involving the museum, the University of Hawaii/NASA Astrobiology Institute and the University of Bridgeport Engineering Department, with support from engineers at UTC Aerospace Systems.
Alan Winick, Discovery Museum education director, said the CubeSat will generate useful scientific data and be “a big boost in the museum’s mission to enrich STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] education by teaming up with private industry and higher education.”
The Discovery Museum’s CubeSat will be eligible for flight into space once testing and final arrangements with NASA are completed.
About the Discovery Museum
The nonprofit Discovery Museum is both a tourist attraction with science and space science exhibits and an informal science education center. The museum’s goal is to promote public understanding of science and technology. Nearly 55,000 children participate in the museum’s science programs and outreach activities each year.
The museum has both changing and permanent exhibit galleries, a 124-seat planetarium, Connecticut’s only Challenger Learning Center, an 80-seat auditorium, and multi-purpose classrooms. It also is home to the privately-run Adventure Park at the Discovery Museum, with outdoor zip lines, ropes course and related activities.
The Discovery Museum is at 4450 Park Ave., Bridgeport, one mile south of Merritt Parkway Exit 47. Learn more at DiscoveryMuseum.org.