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Morehead State University Scientists Develop Satellite for 2012 NASA Launch

Satellite Technology

Satellite Technology Feature Article

January 10, 2012

Morehead State University Scientists Develop Satellite for 2012 NASA Launch

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor


Morehead State University has developed a nanosatellite for an upcoming launch by NASA that once in orbit may help explain the origins of the universe.

Worked on by staff and students at MSU’s Space Science Center, the Cosmic X-Ray Background Nanosatellite (CXBN) was sent to NASA on Jan. 6. CXBN will be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., this August if all goes as planned.


Kentucky’s MSU and its partners developed the satellite over the last year, and it has met with approval after extensive tests.

It is hoped that the CXBN will offer better “measurement of the universe's X-Ray background,” according to a MSU statement.

In addition, the satellite is known for its design. It was built under a CubeSat standard created by Bob Twiggs, professor of Space Science, while at Stanford University.

“I have been on the sidelines watching and the level of complexity in the projects and the professionalism skills they now posses make an awesome team that I would rank as the best university team that I know of,” Twiggs said in the university statement. “These skills have been demonstrated by the delivery of CXBN—a very sophisticated satellite developed on a nearly impossible timeline.”

During orbit, students will operate the satellite. Data from space will be analyzed by students, as well.

Scientists say the satellite’s journey may help unravel the “origin of the cosmic X-ray background,” the university said.

Under the Big Bang (News - Alert) theory, the universe was created 13.8 billion years ago and “relic radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum that the event produced is studied to lend insight into the physics of the early universe,” MSU adds. X-rays associated with the cosmic event needs further explanation.

For example, measurements provided by astronomers on X-ray background is incomplete but the CXBN mission could help explain the origins of the universe.

The launch will be part of the Operationally Unique Technology Satellites (OUTSat) Mission in connection with NASA’s nanosatellite program, MSU said. The idea for the mission came from Ben Malphrus, director of the Space Science Center, and Garrett Jernigan, an astrophysicist at the University of California Berkeley.

In a related matter, later this year NASA will launch a nanosatellite developed by Draper Laboratory and MIT (News - Alert), according to TMCnet. It will help look for potentially habitable planets, TMCnet adds.

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Ed Silverstein is a TMCnet contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin

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