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The COPPER (Close Orbiting Propellant Plume and Elemental Recognition) mission is to perform a first flight of a commercially-available, compact microbolometer array, a tiny infrared camera developed by FLIR Systems, to evaluate the suitability of using this instrument for Earth observation and space situational awareness.

COPPER is an 1U CubeSat designed to operate in Low Earth Orbit. It consists of the SCARAB bus and two plug-in payloads:

  • The FLIR Tau 320 Microbolometer Array, with a custom-built interface board (giving a greater control over the imager and allowing to store 14-bit images at 30 frames per second) as a test for the Rascal (SLU 04) mission.
  • A pathfinder payload provided by Vanderbilt University, in preparation for the Argus mission. The Commodore payload will demonstrate basic interfaces and functionality of their radiation-effects monitoring payload controller.

COPPER was SLUís entry into the University Nanosat-6 Competition, which ran from 2009-2011. In February 2011, COPPER was selected by NASA for a sponsored launch under its Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) Program. COPPER has been manifested on the ORS-3 launch, a Minotaur-1 rocket flight out of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, Wallops Island, VA.

The launch was successful on 20 November 2013 on the ELaNa-4 mission. After deployment, no signals were received from the satellite. A reflight of the mission using a larger 3U CubeSat structure was planned for 2016 as COPPER 2 (SLU 03), but was cancelled later.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Technology
Operator: St. Louis University
Contractors: St. Louis University
Configuration: CubeSat (1U)
Propulsion: None
Power: Solar cells, batteries
Mass: 1 kg
Orbit: 498 km × 502 km, 40.53į
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
COPPER (COPPER-Cube, SLU 01) 2013-064R 20.11.2013 WI LA-0B Minotaur-1 with STPSat 3, ORS 3, ORSES, ORS Tech 1, ORS Tech 2, SENSE 1, SENSE 2, Ho`oponopono 2, Firefly, STARE B, Prometheus 1.1, ..., 1.8, Black Knight 1, NPS-SCAT, TJ3Sat, Trailblazer 1, Vermont Lunar Cubesat, ChargerSat 1, SwampSat, CAPE 2, DragonSat 1, KySat 2, PhoneSat v2.4


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