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Ames' PocketQube Workshop a Huge Success!

Whew! Last week, Kentucky Space and its partner Space Tango held the first of two PocketQube workshops at NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.

It was a huge success!

We had over 40 attendees representing five countries for the one day workshop, which covered the history of satellite miniaturization as well as how to design such a small spacecraft from top to bottom - power, communications systems, software, and so on. The workshop included talks by Morehead State University's Dr. Benjamin Malphrus and Professor Bob Twiggs, Garrett Jernigan, the PI of one of the first PokectQubes launched back in November, and featured remarks from NASA Ames Director Pete Worden. 

The second PocketQube workshop is planned for May 14th at the Radisson Resort at the Port convention center in Port Canaveral, Florida. We hope to see you there

Twyman Clements, Space Systems Engineer, Kentucky Space

ICE, Thrice, Maybe

Working inside a very tight time frame, engineers have detected ICE-3, launched in 1978 and re-purposed as a comet chaser while in space, and are investigating whether the doughty craft might yet perform more science. Its suite of a dozen or more plasma and high-energy particle sensors are believed to be functional.

Mortherboard has much more on this fascinating story with a Kentucky twist in its piece, "Everyone But NASA Wants To Wake Up This Long-Dormant Spacecraft."

'It's the most cost-effective spacecraft we ever had and I'd like to make it even more cost-effective. It can do more missions,' said Bob Farquhar, the 'orbit maestro' who originally turned the ISEE-3 into the ICE and got America to a comet before any other country.

Just like in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the space probe is coming home. In August of this year, the ISEE-3/ICE will swing back by the Earth after nearly three decades of large, looping orbits around the Sun. Some believe that ISEE-3/ICE could be recycled again, and go back to being a solar-weather-observation platform, provided its thrusters are fired soon.

The craft was detected last week by the 21-meter steerable radio telescope at Morehead State University, a partner institution of Kentucky Space. The Director of the Space Science Center at MSU, Dr. Ben Malphrus, had this to say:

We are excited that we have been able to detect the deep space bacon from ICE-3- it has been a great test of the sensitivity of our 21 m space tracking antenna since the spacecraft is transmitting only 7 watts and is 34 million kilometers away.
Our goal is to continue to track the spacecraft and work with others to attempt to decode the telemetry to determine the spacecraft's status and that of its science instruments. It is conceivable that it could be redirected and brought back to life to perform some heliophysics observations - but it would be a significant challenge and there are many unknowns as of now. Still, it would be an incredible feat to resurrect a fantastic space mission and is worth investigating.

"CubeSat, PhoneSat, PocketQube, Sprites..."

Josep Saldaña Cavallé has collected a number of terrific videos on the astonishing growth and development of pico- and femtosatellites in the past few years. Give them a watch.

Kentucky Space has played a small role in that growth. Our YouTube Channel is here.

Kentucky Space will also be hosting the first annual PocketQube workshops, which will feature the creator of the Cubesat and PocketQube forms, Morehead State University Professor Bob Twiggs. One will take place on April 17 at NASA Ames, the other on May 14 at Cape Canaveral.

We'll see you there!

Kentucky Space on Flickr