IMAGER Payload on Maine's First CubeSat

Summary

NASA has placed MESAT1 (MainE Satellite CubeSat Project) on the 2020 manifest list for a space mission between 2021 and 2023. Maine’s first CubeSat was selected in the 11th round of the NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative, through which small research satellites "hitch a ride" with planned spaceflight missions led by NASA, other U.S. government agencies, or commercial organizations. After launch, CubeSats deploy into orbit from either the launch vehicle or the International Space Station.

Wells Reserve Role

Three payloads are planned for MESAT1. The Wells Reserve is providing guidance for one of them, IMAGER, which is being developed by Fryeburg Academy to study estuaries. IMAGER will capture photographs of shallow coastal waters and students will use them for assessing turbidity (particles suspended in water) and phytoplankton concentrations.

What are CubeSats?

From NASA:

CubeSats are a type of small spacecraft. In their smallest form, they measure about four inches on each side, weigh less than three pounds, and have an approximate volume of one quart. CubeSats are built using these standard dimensions or Units (U) and are typically classified as 1U, 2U, 3U, 6U, or 12U in total size. Each selected CubeSat proposal was required to address aspects of the agency’s science, technology development, or education goals.

Timeline

February 2020: MESAT1 selected for CSLI program

2020–TBD: Satellite research, development, and testing

2021–2023: Satellite launch

Partners

  • University of Maine
  • University of Southern Maine
  • Saco Middle School
  • Fryeburg Academy / Wells Reserve
  • Falmouth High School

Funding

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration: $300,000 through the CubeSat Launch Initiative program
  • NASA Maine Space Grant Consortium
  • University of Maine
  • University of Southern Maine

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