Dstl working on CIRCE project
A joint mission to launch miniature sensors that will advance space weather measurement and modelling capabilities is being carried out by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL).
The project, called the Coordinated Ionospheric Reconstruction Cubesat Experiment (CIRCE), comprises two 6U cube-satellites that will be launched into a near-polar a low earth orbit of 500km altitude this year. Each 6U satellite bus measures 10cm x 20cm x 30cm, and will carry almost identical instrument capability.
The UK contribution to CIRCE is the Insitu and Remote Ionospheric Sensing suite, which will complement NRL sensors, comprising three highly miniaturised payloads developed for Dstl by University College London, University of Bath, and University of Surrey/Surrey Satellite Technology. CIRCE will characterise a region of the space environment, the ionosphere, which is important for a range of defence and civil applications and can impact GPS, communications and sensing technology.
Miniaturisation of space weather sensors means that a significant capability is packed into each satellite. This type of miniaturisation could pave the way for deployment of many more sensors, and routine inclusion on other satellites thanks to their small size, weight and power. The result would expand data collection for the near-Earth space environment, and enhance space weather modelling capabilities.
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