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NASA Earth Space

Twin Craft To Study Space Weather From Within Earth's Radiation Belts 15

Early Friday morning (just a few hours from now), if the Florida weather holds, two satellites are set to launch (here's the live-blogged play-by-play) from NASA's launch facility on Cape Canaveral on a mission to study the radiation belts that surround earth and (among other things) help make this planet friendly for life. The Radiation Belt Storm Probes mission features twin craft engineered by Johns Hopkins' Applied Physics Lab which "will operate entirely within the radiation belts throughout their mission. When intense space weather occurs and the density and energy of particles within the belts increases, the probes will not have the luxury of going into a safe mode, as many other spacecraft must do during storms. The spacecraft engineers must therefore design probes and instruments that are 'hardened' to continue working even in the harshest conditions." Update: 08/24 14:53 GMT by T : Launch was a no-go, but there'll be another try early Saturday morning.
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Twin Craft To Study Space Weather From Within Earth's Radiation Belts

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  • by Professr3 ( 670356 ) on Friday August 24, 2012 @02:31AM (#41106123)
    "Two Spacecraft, One Mission"

    Oh, internet...
  • ... get told they had to use all their budget or lose it next financial year?
  • I'm at the NASA Press Site as part of the #NasaSocial event, and it's fantastic. After touring the VAB, launch control, the Atlas V, and the scientists involved, the excitement is infectious.

    Some of the most advanced sensors ever are aboard are on to measure the radiation belts and soup of particles for the next couple of years, and the dual orbits of probes A and B should give a wealth of information on how to handle EM storms that affect Cell networks, GPS, and satellite communications. 43 minutes to la

    • Subject: Correction: Radiation Belt Storm Probes Launch, Rescheduled for August 25

      This morning's planned launch of the Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) has been delayed to Saturday, August 25, 2012 at 4:07 a.m. The launch from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida can be viewed live at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv [nasa.gov] .

      [local bits trimmed]

      The RBSP mission is the second in NASA's Living With a Star program, becoming part of a fleet of spacecraft helping to predict space weather and

  • by Zoxed ( 676559 ) on Friday August 24, 2012 @03:23AM (#41106361) Homepage

    Why not 4 space craft, to measure in 3D, like ESA's Cluster [esa.int] mission ?
    NASA Budget cuts ?!
    (The Cluster website is a bit out of date: the mission is currently extended to, IIRC, 2015.)

    • Re:why 2, not 4 ? (Score:4, Informative)

      by clam666 ( 1178429 ) on Friday August 24, 2012 @03:32AM (#41106387)

      Well the two cost about $435 million. I can assume there's a limit on money, plus adding another spacecraft (the two are stacked on the top), might be beyond a weight threshold that would require bigger and even more expensive launch platform.

      The probes are in different elliptical orbits and one will lap the other as they fly in and out of the inner and outer belts, so they can see the particle effects on one vs. the other. There are several labs on it for measuring this, including probes that extend far away from the craft which will give three dimensional senses of what's happening.

  • by Convector ( 897502 ) on Friday August 24, 2012 @04:57AM (#41106707)

    And the launch has been scrubbed. They'll try again tomorrow.

    • Yes, I read that

      The mission for today is scrubbed and will try to launch tomorrow at the same time

      What I'm surprised is that the launch window lasts only for 20 minutes

      Why so short the time frame of the launch window?

      • "...What I'm surprised is that the launch window lasts only for 20 minutes

        Why so short the time frame of the launch window?"

        IANARS but i have always thought of the launch window as a kind-of measurement of excess-available delta-vee (ie-extra fuel) from launch. The problem with carrying extra fuel beyond mission-specifications is it *also* needs to be accelerated up to orbital velocities which reduces the contribution from the previously-spent fuel. It goes deeper than that but those are some of the prime f

  • CPU (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If anyone else is wondering what commputer hardware they are using that can "continue working even in the harshest conditions", according to the Launch Press Kit [nasa.gov], it's the same kind of RAD-750 [wikipedia.org] PowerPC compatible CPU that's in a number of other "recent" probes, including the Curiosity rover.

    Avionics computer: RBSP’s on-board avionics computer is based on a BAE RAD-750 radiation hardened processor with
    16 MB of RAM plus a 16 GB SDRAM data recorder. The spacecraft interfaces are controlled by a customized radiation-
    tolerant RTAX2000 FPGA (field-programmable gate array) microprocessor.

  • I wonder, if the weather is bad and the launch is delayed, with the chief scientist break into the base at night and launch the ship himself? Accompanied by his best friend (who grumbles about insufficient shielding), the scientist's girlfriend (who is keen to beat the commies), and her kid brother?

Bell Labs Unix -- Reach out and grep someone.