- A satellite shaped like a ‘family-sized box of Cheerios’ will go into space later today
- CubeSat being launched to look at physics’ hot Jupiter exoplanet
- The Colorado Ultraviolet Transit Experiment (CUTE) will run for seven months
- The satellite will measure how fast gases are escaping from at least 10 hot Jupiters, including KELT-9b, the hottest planet ever found by astronomers.
- It will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at 14:11 EDT (19:11 BST).
NASA is sending a $4 million satellite as large as a ‘family-sized box of Cheerios’ into space later today, where it will study the physics of the ‘hot Jupiter’ exoplanet.
Known as the Colorado Ultraviolet Transit Experiment (CUTE), the spacecraft is a cube satellite (CubeSat) that will spend seven months observing these extreme worlds.
It is the first NASA-funded CubeSat mission to look at exoplanets and give the space agency a better idea of what’s possible with small satellite technology.
After a month-long delay due to a liquid nitrogen shortage, NASA’s latest Landsat Earth-observing satellite is also finally set to take off on the same rocket.
It is a continuation of a series of Earth-observing spacecraft dating back approximately 50 years.
Both satellites are launching at 14:11 EDT (19:11 BST) on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in Lompoc, California.
A satellite the size of a ‘family-sized box of Cheerios’ will go into space to see physics ‘hot Jupiter’
After a month-long delay due to a liquid nitrogen shortage, NASA’s latest Landsat Earth observing satellite is finally ready to take off on the same rocket. artist’s impression
The Colorado Ultraviolet Transit Experiment (CUTE) is a Cube satellite that will conduct a seven-month-long mission
The Landsat 9 satellite is NASA’s most powerful Earth observation satellite to date and continues its 50-year legacy.
Operated by NASA and the US Geological Survey, it will continue to catalog changes on the planet – from both human activity and natural processes.
Dr Jeff Masek, NASA’s Landsat-9 project scientist, told BBC News, ‘We have gathered an amazing history of how the planet has changed over the past half century.
‘For example, we can see natural disturbances (such as) fires, hurricanes and pest outbreaks.
‘And then the long-term recovery of ecosystems that lasted for decades after that.’
Artist’s illustration of ‘Hot Jupiter’. According to NASA, ‘Hot Jupiter’ planets are gaseous giants that orbit their stars closely
Discovered in June 2017 KELT-9b (right) has a temperature of 7,800 degrees Fahrenheit and takes just a day and a half to orbit its star.
Why does KELT-9B have extreme temperatures?
The exoplanet is a ‘hot Jupiter’ – a gas giant that orbits its star closer to Mercury than the Sun.
It sports a shiny, comet-style tail as it literally evaporates under ultraviolet radiation from KELT-9 – the host star, which at 9,897 °C is nearly twice as hot as our Sun (5,600 °C).
KELT-9b is about three times as massive as Jupiter, yet only half as dense, as the intense heat has ballooned its atmosphere.
This enormous gravitational is locked to the star by tidal forces—as the Moon is to Earth—but the day side is forever destroyed by excessive radiation.
As a result, molecules such as water, carbon dioxide and methane cannot form.
The latest edition will specifically look at climate and climate-change impacts on ecosystems that can help drive policy and conservation efforts.
Meanwhile, the CubeSat ‘Cheerios box’ is an experiment NASA is conducting to see how much science can be done with a small satellite, according to the team behind the project.
Kevin France, principal investigator at the University of Colorado Boulders’ Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), said it was ‘exciting but a bit difficult’.
According to NASAHot Jupiter planets are gas giants similar in size to, or larger than, Jupiter – but they orbit much closer to their stars, sometimes closer to the Sun than Mercury in the Solar System.
One such example is KELT-9b, discovered in June 2017, which has a temperature of 7,800 degrees Fahrenheit (4,315 C) and takes just a day and a half to orbit its star.
KELT-9b is named after the Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope (KELT) system, which was first used to detect the planet in 2017.
Upon its discovery, KELT-9b – about 670 light-years from Earth – was considered the hottest planet ever discovered, breaking the record by more than 1,100 °C.
“Because these planets stand so close to their parent stars, they receive enormous amounts of radiation,” France said.
Once in space, CUTE will be able to measure how fast gases are emanating from at least 10 different hot Jupiters.
This will include the KELT-9b, and is possible thanks to its unique rectangular telescopic design and dedicated instruments on board.
CUTE plans to have a lifetime of 1 year and use near-ultraviolet (NUV) transmission spectroscopy.
It will characterize the composition and mass-loss rates of exoplanet atmospheres.
The Landsat 9 satellite is NASA’s most powerful Earth observation satellite to date and continues its 50-year legacy. It will capture changes in climate, including monitoring coastal areas like this view of New Zealand taken from a previous generation satellite
The CubeSat will go into space on September 27 on a Joint Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with the Landsat 9 satellite. Pictured is a team installing CUTE in their launch system.
Landsat 9 is the latest satellite in the Landsat series.
It will continue its decades-long mission of recording Earth’s land surface and changing climate.
To reduce construction times and the risk of lag in observations, Landsat 9 largely mimics its predecessor…