Science briefing by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) about a University of California, Berkeley satellite, the Cosmic Hot Interstellar Plasma Spectrometer (CHIPSat), scheduled for launch on Dec. 19 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The briefing also will cover two other satellite missions with December launch dates.
Noon EST (9 a.m. PST) Tuesday, Nov. 26
The briefing at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., will be broadcast live over NASA TV and streamed live through the Web. For details, link to NASA's Web site, http://www.nasa.gov/ntv/breaking.html.
Briefing participants and their topics are:
- Dr. Mark Hurwitz, CHIPSat principal investigator, UC Berkeley: CHIPSat Mission Overview
- Dr. Ghassem Asrar, associate administrator, NASA Office of Earth Science: Overview of ICESat, ADEOS II, One NASA
- Dr. Ann Kinney, director for astronomy and physics, NASA Office of Space Science: Space Science Overview
- Dr. Jay Zwally, ICESat project scientist: ICESat Mission Overview
- Moshe Pniel, scatterometer projects manager, SeaWinds on ADEOS II: Mission Overview
CHIPSat, carrying a UC Berkeley-built instrument to study the high-energy radiation left over from nearby supernova explosions, is the first and only low-cost UNiversity-class EXplorer (UNEX) mission to be launched by NASA. Originally selected by peer review in late 1998, it will fly underneath the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) aboard a Delta rocket and be kicked into a nearly polar orbit 600 kilometers above Earth.
According to principal investigator Mark Hurwitz, research astronomer at UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory, the CHIPS instrument will look at diffuse, extreme ultraviolet light in search of the signature of one or more supernova explosions thought to have cleared out a region around the solar system, dubbed the local bubble, some 10 million years ago. By measuring the distribution and intensity of the glow, scientists will be able to test several competing theories about the formation of the clouds of hot interstellar gas inside the bubble. CHIPS data also will have relevance to a wide variety of galactic and extragalactic astrophysical environments, Hurwitz said.
The CHIPSat spacecraft was built by SpaceDev, Inc., while the CHIPS instrument itself was built by engineers and students at the Space Sciences Laboratory.