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NASA Launches Nanosatellite to Study & Monitor ET Life
On Friday, a small, 5.5 kilogram propellant-free loaf-of-bread-sized satellite was launched into low earth orbit aboard a United States Air Force rocket. Its mission is to study the origins, evolution, and distribution of life in the universe. The "nanosatellite", called Organism/Organic Exposure to Orbital Stresses (O/OREOS), was developed by NASA and is the first propellant-less small spacecraft to carry two independent science experiments.
"With O/OREOS we can analyse the stability of organics in the local space environment in real-time and test flight hardware that can be used for future payloads to address fundamental astrobiology objectives," said Pascale Ehrenfreund, O/OREOS project scientist at the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, in a NASA press release.
O/OREOS will be conduct an experiment to characterize the growth, activity of health of microorganisms in a space environment, which includes exposure to radiation and weightlessness. A second experiment monitors the stability and changes in different organic molecules as they are exposed to these space conditions.
Draper Laboratory and MIT have developed a satellite the size of a loaf of bread that will undertake one of the biggest tasks in astronomy: finding Earthlike planets beyond our solar system—or exoplanets—that could support life. It is scheduled to launch in 2012.