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NASA Hack Space: August 2012


"Space Florida, the State's spaceport authority and aerospace economic development organization, and NanoRacks, LLC, have announced a partnership to host the Space Florida International Space Station (ISS) Research Competition. As part of this program, NanoRacks will provide up to eight Payload Box Units (NanoLabs) that will fly payloads to the ISS, with scientific research that will be conducted on board the U.S. National Lab. Space Florida will cover the costs of research payload transportation to the ISS for the eight winning applicants.

The Space Florida ISS Research Competition is designed to inspire innovation and enable unique research opportunities and access for customers to the ISS. Breakthroughs in material and life sciences, environmental monitoring, complex drugs and other consumer items enabled by space-based research benefit a broad range of emerging markets for government, commercial and academic customers. Research proposals will be reviewed and judged by an independent and scientifically qualified team, based on commercial viability and overall benefit to mankind." More

"Microflow is a miniaturized version of a flow cytometer (a common research or clinical laboratory instrument used for a range of bioanalysis and clinical diagnoses). Microflow can spot cells and biological molecules rapidly by using optical fibre-optic technology to detect them in a sample of liquid as they pass single-file in front of a laser--all within 10 minutes. Different detectors positioned at the point where the stream meets the laser can analyse the physical and chemical properties of molecules or cells in the sample. Unlike most current flow cytometers (which are used only in labs because they can weigh hundreds of pounds and take up as much space as three laser printers and an espresso machine), Microflow weighs less than 10 kg and takes up about the same space as a toaster. Microflow's small size and light-weight make it ideally suited for use in space, since it costs much more to launch heavier objects into space, and bulky objects are more difficult to stow aboard sleek spacecraft and the ISS." More

"Winners of the YouTube Spacelab competition will get to see their experiments in space on 13 September. ESA astronaut Frank De Winne will participate in the live event, transmitted from the International Space Station to the world via YouTube. Frank De Winne, Head of the European Astronaut Centre, acted as one of Europe's jurors of the international student competition. NASA, YouTube, ESA and Lenovo today announced the culmination of the YouTube SpaceLab competition in which astronauts will reveal the results of the two winning experiments live from the International Space Station and share them online on YouTube. The livestream will connect the Station to YouTube's London studio on Thursday, 13 September beginning at 13:30 GMT (15:30 CEST)." More.

"NASA/ARC Peregrine Project has a requirement for Paraffin-based fuel grains (14.5 inch nominal diameter) to be used in combustion tests at N249. Fuel additives are of great interest that can increase the specific impulse of the rocket motor to be useful in an actual hybrid rocket motor, many properties of the additive alone and in combination with the fuel must be investigated. A useful additive is one that is dense, chemically stable, improves the performance and/or structural characteristics of the fuel, and is nontoxic and relatively inexpensive when produced in large quantity." More.

"For the first time in history, a recorded song has been beamed back to Earth from another planet. Students, special guests and news media gathered at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., today to hear "Reach for the Stars" by musician will.i.am after it was transmitted from the surface of Mars by the Curiosity rover. During the event, will.i.am's i.am angel Foundation and Discovery Education announced a $10 million classroom education initiative that will reach 25 million students annually, including many from underserved communities. Focused on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) educational themes, the Discovery Education initiative will incorporate NASA content and space exploration themes as part of the curriculum." More.

Also: NASA and will.i.am Bring Music Back From Mars: Curiosity Rover Successfully Delivers First Music and Song "Reach For the Stars (Mars Edition)" Back to Earth

"The first of these pioneering agreements, concerning a coordinating centre to be established in the East Asian region (in China), was signed on Tuesday 21 August 2012 by a consortium of institutes: the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (KIAA, Peking University), Beijing Planetarium and Yunnan Astronomical Observatory. The consortium is supported in their efforts by various important partners including the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC), the East Asian Core Observatories Association (EACOA), and Pyongyang Astronomical Observatory (PAO). A second regional node will be established in the South East Asian region (in Thailand) and coordinated by the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT)." More

"An experimental camera smaller than an espresso cup on ESA's Proba-2 microsatellite caught this view of soon-to-be Hurricane Isaac as it moved west of the Florida coast into the Gulf of Mexico on Monday. The small satellite's X-Cam - Exploration Camera - acquired this image at 11:38:33 GMT on 27 August. At the time, Isaac was a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of around 100 km/hr, with storm-force winds extending around 360 km from its centre. Isaac is expected to become a fully fledged hurricane during Tuesday, fed by the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Less than a cubic metre in size, Proba-2's main mission focuses on observing the Sun and space weather." More.

"Move over "Bones" McCoy. Future voyages of the starship Enterprise just might include astro surgery as this dynamic discipline jumps from the pages of fiction to reality. A team of biomedical engineering researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Louisville are developing surgical tools that could be used for future expeditionary spaceflights to the moon, an asteroid or Mars. "In deep space, surgical procedures will be severely complicated by absence of gravity, where it becomes difficult to prevent cabin contamination from blood and body fluids," said James Antaki, a professor of biomedical engineering at CMU." More

"Technology is creating a new breed of scientist. I'm talking about citizen scientists - ordinary people and volunteers from all walks of life coming together to help monitor, and possibly mitigate, the next big earthquake through an innovative program called NetQuakes. A play off the popular company Netflix - a movie company that allows users to rent movies through the mail - NetQuakes allows ordinary people to volunteer as a kind of host "family" for one of the program's many blue seismometers. This grassroots movement, an innovative effort between the USGS, the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) and regular people, is forming an intricately advanced network of data that could help scientists, emergency experts and the general public become more aware of the dangers involved with earthquakes." More

"NASA's PhoneSat project will demonstrate the ability to launch the lowest-cost and easiest to build satellites ever flown in space - capabilities enabled by using off-the-shelf consumer smartphones to build spacecraft. A small team of engineers working on NASA's PhoneSat at the agency's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., aim to rapidly evolve satellite architecture and incorporate the Silicon Valley approach of "release early, release often" to small spacecraft. To achieve this, NASA's PhoneSat design makes extensive use of commercial-off-the-shelf components, including an unmodified, consumer-grade smartphone. Out of the box smartphones already offer a wealth of capabilities needed for satellite systems, including fast processors, versatile operating systems, multiple miniature sensors, high-resolution cameras, GPS receivers, and several radios." More.

"NASA's Flight Opportunities Program has selected two new technologies to fly on commercial reusable suborbital vehicles. The flights will test the payloads' functionality before full deployment on future missions. One technology will be tested on a suborbital reusable launch vehicle and the other will be tested on a high altitude balloon. NASA's Flight Opportunities Program seeks to provide low-cost access to suborbital space, where researchers can expose technologies to the edge of Earth's atmosphere and brief periods of weightlessness in a reduced gravity environment using commercial space vehicles. NASA is encouraging the growth of this emerging suborbital space industry through frequent flights at the edge of space and beyond to advance technologies that benefit space exploration." More

"NASA is accepting applications from teams of U.S. and international undergraduate and graduate students for the fourth annual Lunabotics Mining Competition. The event will be held at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida May 20-24, 2013. Participants in the competition will design and build a remote controlled or autonomous robot. During the competition, the teams' designs, known as lunabots, will go head-to-head to determine which machine can excavate and deposit the most simulated lunar dirt within 10 minutes. Registration is limited to the first 50 teams submitting applications." More

"To accommodate NASA's interest in funding only licensed launches, the FAA will allow launches of sufficient size to voluntarily apply for an FAA license and, therefore, fall under the financial responsibility requirements of the CSLA. The changes do not apply to launches involving a Class 1 or Class 2 amateur rocket. Instead, they only apply to launch activities related to a Class 3 amateur rocket. The FAA will not solicit such applications, because solicitation would call into question whether the application was, in fact, voluntary. Also, this rule only permits voluntary applications for a license from entities that are not part of the U.S. Government. The CSLA does not apply to activities the U.S. Government conducts for the government, which means the FAA does not have the authority to consider even voluntary applications for a license from other Federal agencies." More

"A penny-sized rocket thruster may soon power the smallest satellites in space. The device, designed by Paulo Lozano, an associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, bears little resemblance to today's bulky satellite engines, which are laden with valves, pipes and heavy propellant tanks. Instead, Lozano's design is a flat, compact square -- much like a computer chip -- covered with 500 microscopic tips that, when stimulated with voltage, emit tiny beams of ions. Together, the array of spiky tips creates a small puff of charged particles that can help propel a shoebox-sized satellite forward. "They're so small that you can put several [thrusters] on a vehicle," Lozano says. He adds that a small satellite outfitted with several microthrusters could "not only move to change its orbit, but do other interesting things -- like turn and roll." Lozano and his group in MIT's Space Propulsion Laboratory and Microsystems Technology Laboratory presented their new thruster array at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' recent Joint Propulsion Conference." More

A small ball-shaped science satellite is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 32 crew member after its deployment during a session of extravehicular activity (EVA). Earth's horizon and the blackness of space provide the backdrop for the scene. More

"The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced 15 Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) grants for fiscal year 2012, awarding nearly $30 million to 68 investigators at 26 institutions. During the next four years, teams of researchers will pursue transformative, fundamental research in three emerging areas: flexible electronic systems that can better interface with the body; design of self-folding materials and structures; and optimizing large-scale chemical production from photosynthesis. Results from this research promise to improve human health, engineering design and manufacturing, and energy sustainability. Four EFRI research teams will pursue biocompatible electronic systems that offer new capabilities for health care. Integrating microelectronics with conformable substrates, these flexible bioelectronics systems will interact seamlessly with the body to advance medical monitoring, detection and/or treatment in a patient-friendly form." More

"NanoRacks, the leading company in low-earth orbit research and educational utilization, seeks to further stimulate the market for International Space Station usage by offering to designate and promote up to five (5) companies that can offer for retail sale NanoLabs for use in NanoRacks hardware now on the space station and on suborbital platforms. The purpose of this AO is to help create a robust, standardized ecosystem that makes use of the NanoRacks research platforms now permanently onboard the U.S. National Lab on International Space Station as well as for possible use in other environments, such as onboard the Virgin Galactic suborbital SpaceShipTwo research racks. We believe that hardware that can be used on the space station that is low-cost and standardized allows researchers to focus their budget and time on the payload itself. It is our hope that this further lowers the barriers to microgravity utilization." More.

"NASA's Space Technology Program has selected five technologies that could revolutionize America's space capabilities. In March, NASA issued a call for proposal focused on sudden and unexpected innovations that hold a potential for providing a "game-changing" impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of the agency's space capabilities. "NASA's Space Technology Program is enabling our future in space by investing in revolutionary and game-changing technologies that could open new doors for how we live, work and investigate space," said Michael Gazarik, director of the program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "We are confident these selected technologies, with their highly qualified research teams, will enable great new opportunities for the next chapter in NASA's innovation story."

"University students will put their academic skills to the test when atmospheric and technology experiments they developed fly on a NASA suborbital sounding rocket. The launch will take place between 6:30 and 10 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 23, from the agency's Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island, Va. Four university experiments will be flown as part of an educational project called RockSat-X, which is designed to provide students hands-on experience in designing, fabricating, testing and conducting experiments for space flight. The project is a joint effort between NASA and the Colorado Space Grant Consortium at the University of Colorado at Boulder."

"NASA's new virtual mentoring program is helping girls get excited about careers in science and technology by working one-on-one with agency professionals. Twenty-one girls in grades 5-8, representing 12 states from New York to Hawaii, have completed a pilot mentoring program called NASA Giving Initiative and Relevance to Learning Science (NASA GIRLS). NASA GIRLS is the first program to pair up girls with NASA female mentors from the Women@NASA program using online video programs such as Skype and Google Chat. Participants were selected from more than 1,600 applications."

"NASA has selected a team led by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation of Boulder, Colo., for a technology demonstration of a high performance "green" propellant alternative to the highly toxic fuel hydrazine. With this award, NASA opens a new era of innovative and non-toxic green fuels that are less harmful to our environment, have fewer operational hazards, and decrease the complexity and cost of launch processing. Today's use of hydrazine fuel for rockets, satellites and spacecraft is pervasive. Hydrazine is an efficient propellant and can be stored for long periods of time, but it also is highly corrosive and toxic. NASA is seeking new, non-toxic high performance green propellants that could be safely and widely used by rocketeers, ranging from government to industry and academia. Green propellants include liquid, solid, mono- propellant, which use one fuel source, or bi-propellants, which use two, and hybrids that offer safer handling conditions and lower environmental impact than current fuels." More.

"NASA has announced the selection of 10 research efforts from the agency's inaugural Space Technology Research Opportunities for Early Career Faculty solicitation. NASA will provide grants of as much as $200,000 per year for as long as three years in support of these faculty and their research in specific, high-priority technology areas. The selected faculty will conduct research in areas closely aligned with NASA's Space Technology Roadmaps and priorities identified by the National Research Council. These priorities include extending and sustaining human activities beyond low Earth orbit, exploring the evolution of the solar system and potential for life elsewhere, and expanding our understanding of Earth and the universe." More

"This is a close-up view of the "spectrometer-on-a-chip" technology that could dramatically reduce the size of spectrometers in the future. (Credit: NASA Goddard/Chris Gunn) - The Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) is big. It's powerful and it discovered, among other things, that Saturn's mysterious moon Enceladus was one of the very few worlds in the solar system that radiated several gigawatts of heat into space, primarily along prominent fractures dubbed "tiger stripes." If a team of technologists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., succeeds, however, scientists in the future won't observe these far-flung worlds with instruments the size of dishwashers. Rather, they will make their discoveries with dramatically smaller, more efficient models whose critical components fit onto a silicon wafer and do not require moving parts to operate -- unlike the breadbox-size components found inside the Goddard-developed CIRS, which flew on the flagship Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn. "The Holy Grail is reducing the number of moving parts, which will allow us to build lighter, smaller instruments," said team member John Allen. "The smaller the device, the better. That's where the power of our effort really begins to take off." More

Ocean Optics Spectrometers Land Safely on Mars

"Three Ocean Optics instruments have completed their eight month journey to Mars to study soil composition as part of the ChemCam mission. The company's modular Jaz spectrometer scaled Mt. Everest with a team that included NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski to measure solar irradiance at extreme altitude."

Using a Tricorder on Mount Everest

"If you've ever seen a Starfleet away team beaming down to a new planet, you know that the first thing they do is whip out their tricorder and scan everything. Many of NASA's astrobiologists want one. Well, Scott and I had one at Everest."

Keith's note: I carried this cool device up to Everest Base Camp and then Scott carried it up the mountain. Its not unusual for people to trek into Everest with the latest high tech gear on display but every time I pulled this thing out people stopped to watch me go through my procedure. I took this promo photo of Scott using the Jaz unit while we were standing next to our tents at Everest Base Camp. An instant later we heard a loud noise coming from the icefall. An instant later I switched my camera from still to video and shot this video. This was one of the largest avalanches in recent seasons. Had I not been taking the PR shot of Scott and the Jaz unit I'd have missed most of this avalanche.

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Office of Education, in cooperation with NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD), Human Exploration & Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD), and Science Mission Directorates (SMD), the Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT), and NASA's ten Centers, solicits proposals for the NASA Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). Each funded NASA EPSCoR proposal is expected to establish research activities that will make significant contributions to the strategic research and technology development priorities of one or more of the Mission Directorates or the OCT and contribute to the overall research infrastructure, science and technology capabilities, higher education, and economic development of the jurisdiction. Proposals are due on Aug. 14, 2012." More

"NASA's University Student Launch Initiative, or USLI, is a competition that challenges university-level students to design, build and launch a reusable rocket with a scientific or engineering payload to one mile above ground level. The project engages students in scientific research and real-world engineering processes with NASA engineers. Once selected, teams design their rockets and payloads throughout the academic year. USLI requires a NASA review of the teams' preliminary and critical designs. The project also requires flight and launch readiness reviews before the rockets and payloads are approved for launch. Teams complete a Post-Launch Assessment Review to include conclusions from their science or engineering experiment and the overall flight performance." More

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) anticipates making launch opportunities for a limited number of CubeSats available on launches currently planned for 2013-2016. The CubeSat Launch Initiative is a project to demonstrate viable launch opportunities for CubeSat payloads as auxiliary payloads on planned missions. NASA anticipates using its authority to enter into one or more collaborative Agreements with selected Respondents ("Collaborators") to support the CubeSat Launch Initiative. During the project, NASA will provide integration and other services as necessary to complete the launch activity. The CubeSat Launch Initiative is open to NASA centers, U.S. not-for-profit organizations, and accredited U.S. educational organizations. Participation in the CubeSat Launch Initiative will be contingent upon selection by NASA and negotiation of an appropriate Agreement between NASA and the Collaborator. Proposed CubeSat investigations must address an aspect of science, exploration, technology development, education, or operations encompassed by NASA's strategic goals and outcomes as identified in the NASA Strategic Plan and/or the NASA Education Vision and Goals." More

"Centennial Challenges is a program of prize competitions to stimulate innovation in technologies of interest and value to NASA and the nation. In 2010 NASA announced a Nano-Satellite Launch (NSL) Challenge to encourage development of safe, low-cost, small-payload delivery systems for frequent access to low Earth orbit (LEO) through innovations in propulsion and other technologies as well as operations and management for broader applications in future launch systems that could result in a commercial capability for dedicated launches of small satellites at a cost comparable to secondary payload launches--a potential new market with Government, commercial, and academic customers. To assist in formulation of the Nano-Satellite Launch Challenge, NASA is seeking additional information on the nano-satellite market and on approaches to address the market needs. There are currently several existing launch vehicles and new launch vehicle programs that could provide ride-sharing opportunities for nano-satellite. A NASA NSL Challenge could focus on a vehicle dedicated to providing greater payload design flexibility for cubesats and other small payloads, more frequent access to space at costs comparable or less than existing or proposed ride-share launch options." More

Flight Opportunities for Payloads Maturing Crosscutting Technologies that Advance Multiple Future Space Missions to Flight Readiness Status

"Dear Flight Opportunities community: We are pleased to announce the release of Announcement of Flight Opportunities #5 (AFO5) today. This new call brings back the opportunity to propose to the parabolic flight platform, in addition to our current sRLV and balloon providers. Proposal due date is September 21, with a tentative announcement of selections in November 2012."

"NASA has chosen three teams to advance the state of the art for small spacecraft in the areas of communications, formation flying and docking systems. The cutting-edge space technology flights are expected to take place in 2014 and 2015. All selected missions will employ nanosatellites conforming to the CubeSat standard. CubeSats are composed of four-inch, cube-shaped units with each having a volume of about one quart and a weight of approximately three pounds. CubeSats can be joined to create multiple-unit spacecraft. They readily can be accommodated as secondary payloads or rideshares on a number of space launch vehicles." More

The X PRIZE Foundation and Nokia today announced that team pre-registration is open for the $2.25 million Nokia Sensing X CHALLENGE. The competition will incentivize breakthroughs in sensor hardware and software that provide a new means of detecting and diagnosing disease and providing data that supports both wellbeing and any health issues. Teams may include individuals or groups from companies at any stage of development or funding; academic institutions; existing small/medium- sized companies; and non-profit organizations.

"Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMT) today announced a worldwide innovation contest with cash awards totaling $50,000. The "Innovate the Future" contest creates a global forum for interested participants to share their ideas on how innovation can enable a more secure future for the planet. Participants are invited to submit their thoughts on a range of topics facing the world community, including the need for sustainable energy, cyber security, and healthcare. "Lockheed Martin has 100-year legacy of discovery, innovation, and breakthroughs that have made lasting impacts on society, from human's first attempts at flight, to systems for controlling the world's air traffic, to our earliest exploration of space," said Dr. Ray O. Johnson, senior vice president and chief technology officer of Lockheed Martin. "An important lesson from this legacy is that good ideas can come from anywhere. Through this contest, we are creating an online environment that helps people with diverse backgrounds and experiences share their ideas," continued Johnson." More

"NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC) seeks industry, academia, government and NASA interest in conducting small modular technology demonstration experiments (TDEs) on the exterior of International Space Station (ISS) as part of the Materials International Space Station Experiment-X (MISSE-X). The MISSE-X Project is currently developing the MISSE-X facility. The initial deployment of the MISSE-X payload to ISS is scheduled for 2016. The MISSE-X project will transfer control and operation of the MISSE-X facility to ISS Program beginning in 2017. A more detailed description of the MISSE-X project is included as an attachment to this RFI. The MISSE-X Project Office is issuing this Request for Information (RFI) to obtain Letters of Interest from aerospace technology developer's who are interested in using the MISSE-X facility beginning in 2017 and continuing throughout the life of ISS. The project office will use these letters to help assess the potential interest in the MISSE-X facility and to demonstrate industry, government, and academia support for MISSE-X on ISS." More

"The Technology Demonstration Missions (TDM) Program Office at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center is seeking to sponsor the development of a curriculum to demonstrate the principles of the technology demonstration mission concepts currently in development within the office. The goal of this curriculum is to provide engineering design challenges on the ground that simulate the application of the technology demonstration missions to provide a hands-on inquiry-based learning experience. This scope outlines the curriculum development, pilot program, and evaluation program for FY13." More

"A heat shield partially made from Martian or lunar soil, lighting that lets plants grow in space and specialized containers that keep astronauts from getting infected by biological experiments were some of the ideas shown to NASA's chief technologist during his two-day visit to laboratories at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Although known for pioneering tools and techniques to prepare payloads and launch spacecraft successfully, the space center and its partner Space Florida also operate labs for scientists performing cutting edge research in other fields. "It's very exciting to be here at Kennedy Space Center because one of the best parts of my job is thinking about the future," said Mason Peck, NASA's chief technologist. "That's one of the reasons I wanted to do this in the first place." More

"Interns at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center are an extraordinary group. Their eyes brighten at the mention of an informative lecture, they eagerly ask questions as you pass by in the hallways, and they talk about their projects with unbounded enthusiasm. Could these high school and college students be the secret to infusing our workforce with renewed passion? Matthew Showalter, associate branch head in the Advanced Manufacturing Branch (AMB), at NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, Md., believes so. For several years he has utilized the unique talent and fresh thinking of interns from around the country to collaborate on a project he calls the Innovation Lab. When complete, the Innovation Lab will support Goddard research and development at low or no cost, while simultaneously recruiting the next generation of engineers and scientists for the center's workforce." More.

"NASA's Space Technology Program is turning science fiction into science fact. The program has selected 28 proposals for study under the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program. Eighteen of these advanced concept proposals were categorized as Phase I and 10 as Phase II. They were selected based on their potential to transform future aerospace missions, enable new capabilities, or significantly alter and improve current approaches to launching, building and operating aerospace systems. The selected proposals include a broad range of imaginative concepts, including a submarine glider to explore the ice-covered ocean of Europa, an air purification system with no moving parts, and a system that could use in situ lunar regolith to autonomously build concrete structures on the moon." More

"Eleven tiny satellites called CubeSats will accompany a spy satellite into Earth orbit on Thursday, Aug. 2, inaugurating a new type of inexpensive, modular nanosatellite designed to piggyback aboard other NASA missions. One of the 11 will be CINEMA (CubeSat for Ions, Neutrals, Electrons, & MAgnetic fields), an 8-pound, shoebox-size package which was built over a period of three years by 45 students from the University of California, Berkeley; Kyung Hee University in Korea; Imperial College London; Inter-American University of Puerto Rico; and University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez. "This is a new way of doing space research, funded by the National Science Foundation with launch arranged by NASA," said CINEMA principal investigator Robert Lin, professor emeritus of physics and former director of UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory. "This is our first try, but if everything works, we're going to get a lot of good science out of this." CINEMA will obtain images of the "ring current," an electrical current that encircles the Earth and which, during large magnetic "space storms," can blow out power grids on the ground. By next year, CubeSat will be joined by three identical satellites -- two launched by Korea and another NASA-launched CubeSat -- that together will monitor the 3-dimensional structure of the ring current and warn of dangerous activity." More