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CuSP (CubeSat mission to study Solar Particles), formerly CuSPP+ (CubeSat mission to study Solar Particles over the Earth’s Poles), is a 6U CubeSat space weather mission on an interplanetary trajectory designed an built by the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). It is an increment to the originally planned CuSPP low earth orbit mission.

CuSPP+ will carry with it a miniaturized Suprathermal Ion Sensor (SIS), developed by SwRI, which will study the sources and acceleration mechanisms of solar energetic particles that are harmful to astronauts as well as Earth-based technologies. With its polar orbit, CuSPP+ will be able to sample energetic particles arriving prior to interplanetary shocks, like shocks from CMEs. CusPP+ can then serve as an early warning system for shocks striking the Earth. In addition, CuSPP+ will serve as a proof of concept to become the precursor to a fleet of interplanetary CubeSats to further study the inter-connection between the Sun and Earth.

  • SIS: Suprathermal Ion Spectrograph (Southwest Research Institute)
  • MERiT: Miniaturized Electron and Proton Telescope (NASA Goddard)
  • VHM: Vector Helium Magnetometer (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

SIS is inherited from the CuSPP, while MERiT is from the CeREs.

CuSPP+ is planned for a 90 days prime mission, which can be extended, if the trajectory is favorable. The communication threshold is at an earth distance of about 0.1 AU.

CuSPP+ is one of 13 cubesats planned to be carried with the Orion EM1 mission into a heliocentric orbit in cis-lunar space on the maiden flight of the SLS (Block 1) iCPS launch vehicle in 2018.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Ionosphere, magnetosphere
Operator: SwRI
Contractors: SwRI
Equipment: SIS, MERiT, VHM
Configuration: CubeSat (6U)
Propulsion: None
Power: 2 deployable fixed solar arrays, batteries
Lifetime: 90 days (prime mission)
Orbit: Solar orbit
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
CuSP (ex CuSPP+) - 2018 CCK LC-39B SLS (Block 1) iCPS with Orion EM1, BioSentinel, LunaH-Map, Lunar-Flashlight, Lunar-IceCube, NEA-Scout, SkyFire, EQUULEUS, OMOTENASHI, ArgoMoon, 3 cubesats