FIREBIRD FU1, FU2 [Montana Space Grant Consortium]
The FIREBIRD (Focused Investigations of Relativistic Electron Burst, Intensity, Range, and Dynamics) mission is a targeted, goal-directed, space weather Cubesat mission to resolve the spatial scale size and energy dependence of electron microbursts in the Van Allen radiation belts.
Relativistic electron microbursts appear as short durations of intense electron precipitation measured by particle detectors on low altitude spacecraft, seen when their orbits cross magnetic field lines which thread the outer radiation belt. Previous spacecraft missions (e.g., SAMPEX) have quantified important aspects of microburst properties (e.g., occurrence probabilities), however, some crucial properties (i.e., spatial scale) remain elusive owing to the space-time ambiguity inherent to single spacecraft missions. While microbursts are thought to be a significant loss mechanism for relativistic electrons, they remain poorly understood, thus rendering space weather models of Earth’s radiation belts incomplete. FIREBIRD’s unique two-point, focused observations at low altitudes, that fully exploit the capabilities of the Cubesat platform, will answer three fundamental scientific questions with space weather implications:
FIREBIRD is funded by the National Science Foundation.
The first FIREBIRD pair was orbited in December 2013 on an Atlas-5(501) rocket, but only one of the two satellites was functional.
The second pair were originally the Engineering Design Unit and flight spare for the FIREBIRD mission, but have been refurbished for flight. The FIREBIRD II spacecraft feature two major changes from the original FIREBIRD spacecraft: The Electrical Power System was replaced with a new in-house design and the FIREBIRD IMM Solar Cell Experiment (FISCE) was added.
Both Flight Unit 3 (FU3) and Flight Unit 4 (FU4) were launched on 31 January 2015 with the ELaNa X mission on a Delta-7320-10C rocket. All subsystems are working well and have recorded and downlinked hundreds of microbursts to date.
|Type / Application:||Technology|
|Operator:||Montana Space Grant Consortium|
|Contractors:||Montana Space Grant Consortium|
|Power:||Solar cells, batteries|
|Orbit:||462 km × 889 km, 120.50° (#1, 2)|
|FIREBIRD FU1||2013-072B||06.12.2013||Va SLC-3E||Atlas-5(501)||with Topaz 3, ALICE, SMDC-ONE 3.1, SMDC-ONE 3.2, SNaP, TacSat 6, FIREBIRD FU2, AeroCube 5A, AeroCube 5B, CUNYSAT 1, IPEX, M-Cubed/COVE 2|
|FIREBIRD FU2||2013-072C||06.12.2013||Va SLC-3E||Atlas-5(501)||with Topaz 3, ALICE, SMDC-ONE 3.1, SMDC-ONE 3.2, SNaP, TacSat 6, FIREBIRD FU1, AeroCube 5A, AeroCube 5B, CUNYSAT 1, IPEX, M-Cubed/COVE 2|
|FIREBIRD FU3||2015-003B||31.01.2015||Va SLC-2W||Delta-7320-10C||with SMAP, GRIFEX, ExoCube, FIREBIRD FU4|
|FIREBIRD FU4||2015-003C||31.01.2015||Va SLC-2W||Delta-7320-10C||with SMAP, GRIFEX, ExoCube, FIREBIRD FU3|