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INCA 1, 2


INCA (Ionospheric Neutron Content Analyzer) is a scientific investigation mission conducted by the New Mexico State University (NMSU), that will study the latitude and time dependencies of the neutron spectrum in low-Earth orbit for the first time to improve current space weather models and mitigate threats to space and airborne assets.

The measurements will come from a new directional neutron spectrometer, which is being developed in conjunction with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of New Hampshire. It is being adapted from Solar Probe Plus Ion Neutron & Gamma-ray Spectrometer (SPRINGS) design.

INCA is built on a 3U CubeSat satellite bus.

The mission objectives are to:

  • To demonstrate the functionality of Scintillator/SiPM-based neutron spectrometer in Low Earth Orbit.
  • To gather neutron flux data and corresponding latitude metadata from at least three latitudinal zones.
  • To detect a primary solar neutron event.

It was selected in 2016 by NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) program by the CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) to be launched as part of the ELaNa program. It was to be launched on the ELaNa-20 mission on a dedicated LauncherOne in late 2020, but was removed from this launch. The satellite was launched on February 2022 on an Astra Rocket-3.3 but failed to reach orbit.

A reflight of the mission is planned as INCA 2.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Ionospheric Research
Operator: New Mexico State University (NMSU)
Contractors: New Mexico State University (NMSU)
Equipment: Directional neutron spectrometer
Configuration: CubeSat (3U)
Propulsion: None
Power: Deployable fixed solar array, batteries
Mass: 3.8 kg
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
INCA 2022-F01 10.02.2022 CC SLC-46 F Astra Rocket-3.3 with BAMA 1, R5 S1, QubeSat
INCA 2 - 2024 with ?

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