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Three small, optically reflective spherical "STARSHINE" student satellites have been designed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and built by an informal, volunteer coalition of organizations and individuals in the USA and Canada. This coalition is called "Project Starshine" and is headquartered in Monument, Colorado. It receives no formal funding and operates by means of contributions of materials and labor from its member individuals and institutions. NASA has deployed the coalition’s satellites into highly inclined low Earth orbits from two Space Shuttles and an Athena expendable launch vehicle at no cost to the Starshine project, as a service to the international educational community. Each of the satellites is covered by approximately 1000 small, front-surface aluminum mirrors that are machined by technology students in Utah and polished by tens of thousands of students in schools and other participating organizations around the world. These mirrors have been coated with a scratch-resistant, anti-oxidizing layer of Silicon Dioxide by optical engineers and technicians at the Hill Air Force Base in Utah and the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.
The Autonomous Extravehicular Activity Robotic Camera Sprint (AERCam Sprint) is an experiment planned to demonstrate the use of a prototype free-flying television camera that could be used for remote inspections of the exterior of the International Space Station.
The AERCam Sprint free-flyer is a 14-inch diameter, 35-pound sphere that contains two television cameras, an avionics system and 12 small nitrogen gas-powered thrusters. The sphere, which looks like an oversized soccer ball, was released by Mission Specialist Winston Scott during the STS-87 spacewalk and flew
freely in the forward cargo bay for about 30 minutes. The free-flyer was remotely controlled by Pilot Steve Lindsey from the Shuttle's aft flight deck using a hand controller, two laptop computers and a window-mounted antenna. The AERCam is designed to fly very slowly at a rate of less than one-quarter of a foot per second. Remote control of the AERCam is performed through two-way Ultra High Frequency radio communications, with data regarding the status of the free-flyer's systems transmitted back to the operator. Television images are transmitted back to the operator via a one-way S-band communications link. During the experiment operations, live television images also will be relayed via Columbia to Mission Control. Two miniature color television cameras are mounted on the free-flyer, one with a 6 millimeter lens and another with a 12 millimeter lens. The exterior of the free-flyer sphere is covered with a sixth-tenths of an inch-thick layer of Nomex felt to cushion any inadvertent contact with a spacecraft surface and prevent damage.
The MIT Space Systems Laboratory developed the SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites) laboratory environment to provide DARPA, NASA, and other researchers with a long term, replenishable, and upgradable testbed for the validation of high risk metrology, control, and autonomy technologies for use in formation flight and autnomous docking, rendezvous and reconfiguration algorithms. These technologies are critical to the operation of distributed satellite and docking missions such as Terrestrial Planet Finder and Orbital Express.
You won’t find any light sabers on the International Space Station, but you will find a trio of “droids” that look a lot like what any self-respecting science fiction fan remembers as a Star Wars “remote.”
That’s the tricky little device that Luke Skywalker used to hone his light-saber skills before he went up against Darth Vader and the rest of the evil empire.
But instead of being used for light-saber practice, the droids on the space station are being used to test automated rendezvous and formation flying in zero-gravity. And soon, there may be a host of other things the droids will be used to test as their capabilities and uses are expanded and made available for National Laboratory and other uses.
Known officially as Synchronized Position, Hold, Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES, the droids have been on the station since 2006. Astronauts have conducted more than 20 experiment sessions with them, and are on tap to conduct many more. Each SPHERES droid is self-contained with power, propulsion, computing and navigation equipment. Together, they are testing techniques that could lead to advancements in automated dockings, satellite servicing, spacecraft assembly and emergency repairs.
Originally posted by JimOberg
Obviously built as a diversion from true flying saucer stories....
Starshine 3 burned up in the earth's upper atmosphere above northern Canada or southern Greenland at approximately 0515 UTC on January 21, 2003. It had made 7434 revolutions around the earth between the date of its launch from Kodiak, Alaska, on September 29, 2001, and its fiery end on January 21, 2003. No observations were reported of this event.
Out of respect for the brave crew of Space Shuttle Columbia who were lost on February 1, 2003, the Starshine web site will temporarily suspend operations.[/ats]
John Vasquez of the Naval Research Laboratory prepares Starshine 1 for vibration test. Photo by
Michael A. Savell.
So since this STARSHINE has been floating around up there all these years how come no one, including YOU, ever pointed it out before?
I also find it curious how your posting style has so many variations... one might almost think... nahedit on 27-10-2011 by zorgon because: (no reason given)
Originally posted by freelance_zenarchist
More threads like this?
Originally posted by JiggyPotamus
The first thing I thought of when I saw that blob, or orb, was that it was some sort of liquid, possibly water. Wouldn't a liquid clump like that in space? I am not positive by any means, only asking. Also, do the astronauts eject their liquids, water, waste, etc, from the spacecraft out into space?...