While Phoenix aims to obtain valuable scientific data from orbit, the project is first and foremost an educational mission, designed to teach university students the concepts of spacecraft design and systems integration, interdisciplinary collaboration, and project management
Fremont, CA: Arizona State University successfully launched a small, NASA-funded research satellite from the International Space Station on Wednesday.
Known as Phoenix, the bread-loaf-sized craft will use an off-the-shelf infrared camera to study the urban heat island in seven U.S. cities, including Phoenix. Urban heat islands occur when human activities, building materials, and other urban factors make cities warmer than their surroundings. ASU rocketed the CubeSat to the ISS aboard a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket in November 2019 as part of a Cygnus resupply mission.
Roughly 30 minutes after deployment, Phoenix's beacon was heard for the first time at a ground station located in Indonesia. Amateur operators continued to hear its health beacon throughout the day by tracking the ISS, including the Phoenix operations team, using the ASU ground station. The team was also able to perform a successful schedule uplink to collect more telemetry from the ADCS, which marked the first CubeSat operation from the university.
About 100 undergraduate students worked on Phoenix, which will orbit the Earth for up to two years, enough time to capture data during all four seasons. CubeSats conform to a modular design that lets them launch from a uniform chute or module.
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