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IT-SPINS (SpaceBuoy)

IT-SPINS [Montana State University]

IT-SPINS (Ionospheric-Thermospheric Scanning Photometer for Ion-Neutral Studies), formerly known as SpaceBuoy, is a 3U CubeSat satellite developed by the Space Science and Engineering Laboratory (SSEL) at Montana State University, which will demonstrate the utility of low-cost nanosatellites to provide focused observations to supplement ionospheric forecasting models.

The IT-SPINS mission proposes to provide the first two-dimensional (2D) tomographic imaging from a 3U research CubeSat, addressing the basic nature of the nocturnal ionosphere. This 6-month mission aims to strengthen our fundamental understanding for development of ion gradient structures in the topside of the Earth’s ionosphere and secondarily within regional phenomena such as equatorial plasma bubbles (EPBs) or polar patches.

The satellite was launched on board of the Cygnus CRS-15 cargo mission and was deployed on 29 June 2021 from the spacecrafts external deployer after departing from the ISS.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Ionospheric Research
Operator: Montana State University, Space Science and Engineering Laboratory
Contractors: Montana State University, Space Science and Engineering Laboratory
Equipment: CTIP instrument
Configuration: CubeSat (3U)
Propulsion: None
Power: Solar cells, batteries
Mass: 4 kg
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
IT-SPINS (ex SpaceBuoy) 2021-013G 20.02.2021 WI LC-0A Antares-230+ with Cygnus CRS-15, Lawkanat 1, Gunsmoke-J 2, ORCA 6, ORCA 7, TAU-SAT 1, MYSAT 2, STARS-EC, OPUSAT 2, RSP 01, WARP 01, Maya 2, Guaranisat 1, Tsuru, ThinSat 2A, ..., 2I


  • Space Science and Engineering Laboratory: SpaceBuoy
  • Space Science and Engineering Laboratory: IT-SPINS

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