For MidSTAR-2, midshipmen are developing a satellite bus, which is the main portion of
the satellite. It is similar to the previous MidSTAR-1
satellite, which was launched earlier in 2007. The MidSTAR-1 satellite was a highly
successful proof of design for the MidSTAR-2 satellite bus design concept.
The NASA experiments that will fly on MidSTAR-2 are part of the Internal Research and
Development Program at NASA Goddard. Four instruments are set to fly on MidSTAR-2. They
will look at the Earth's thermosphere, gamma rays and solar winds:
- The Remote Sensing of the Thermospheric Temperature Imager (TTI) instrument will be used to take the
temperature of Earth's thermosphere to determine how much it can slow low-altitude
spacecraft. The thermosphere is Earth's outermost layer of atmosphere, located from 80 to
550 km (approx. 50 to 340 miles) above the surface. Its temperature is dependent on the
sun. When the sun is active, temperatures can soar to 1,500C (2,732 F) or higher. Because
of the thin air, scientists can't measure temperature directly, so they measure density of
the air by seeing how much drag it puts on satellites.
- The Gamma-Ray Burst Polarimeter will study gamma-ray bursts. Gamma-ray bursts are the
most powerful energies known to man, given off by supernovas and black holes. This
instrument will provide a good test for a new X-ray polarimeter in development and can
reveal much about the areas around neutron stars or black holes.
- The Miniature Imager for Neutral Ionospheric Atoms and Magnetospheric Electrons or
"MINI-ME," could improve understanding on how the sun's solar wind (energy
particles ejected from the sun, some of which come toward the Earth) interact with solar
system planets and parts of Earth's atmosphere. The ionosphere and the magnetosphere are
outer layers of the Earth's atmosphere that interact with the solar wind. One day, these
instruments could help explain why Venus lost its water and whether conditions at Europa, Jupiter's moon, can support life.
- The Plasma Impedance Spectrum Analyzer or PISA instrument will measure the amount of
electrons (tiny charged particles) and the temperature in Earth's upper atmosphere.
That will help scientists understand the ways that solar wind from the sun affects Earth's
upper atmosphere. Solar winds can affect radio waves, making navigation and communication
The Academy did not receive funding to build MidSTAR-2 causing the cancellation of the project. The TTI, MINI-ME and PISA instruments were flown on FASTSAT-HSV 01 instead.