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FIREBIRD FU1, FU2, FU3, FU4

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:

  • What is the spatial scale size of an individual microburst?
  • What is the energy dependence of an individual microburst?
  • How much total electron loss from the radiation belts do microbursts produce globally?

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.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Technology
Operator: Montana Space Grant Consortium
Contractors: Montana Space Grant Consortium
Equipment:
Configuration: CubeSat (1.5U)
Propulsion: None
Power: Solar cells, batteries
Lifetime:
Mass: 2 kg
Orbit:
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
FIREBIRD FU1 2013-072B 06.12.2013 Va SLC-3E Atlas-5(501) with Topaz 3, ALICE, SMDC-ONE 2.3, SMDC-ONE 2.4, 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 2.3, SMDC-ONE 2.4, 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

References: