ENP Newswire -
Release date- 09072014 -
The Compact Modular Sounder instrument, built by researchers at
The size of a shoebox and weighing just 4.5kg, Compact Modular Sounder (CMS) is designed to do the job of a much bigger, heavier instrument at a fraction of the cost. The eventual aim of the scientists behind the project is to send CMS into deep space to use its infrared technology to create thermal maps of the surface of a Near Earth Asteroid.
'Imagine that an asteroid is detected on a possible collision course with Earth, with enough time that we have options to deal with it. One of the most important things we need to know is how its orbit might change with time: will it hit us or just fly by? If it looks like it could hit us what could we do about it?' said Dr
'One option is to send a spacecraft to investigate, and an accurate temperature map of the asteroid's surface is likely to be very useful. Temperature maps can tell us about the rockiness of its surface, so where is a good place to land a robotic spacecraft, and how heating from the Sun and cooling to space can 'push' the asteroid around changing its orbit,' said Dr Bowles. 'In Oxford we have studied, built and tested a number of thermal mapping instruments for missions to asteroids but have not had the opportunity to test them in space, until now.'
TechDemoSat-1 is a small (about 1 metre cubed) spacecraft built by
'If you are sending equipment on missions lasting many years into the harsh environment of space it is essential that they are tested thoroughly before launch. However, nothing beats actually testing an instrument in space, and this is where TechDemoSat-1 comes in, it's a vital way for us to test our technology and so reduce the risk of anything going wrong in future missions,' said Dr Bowles. 'And since we are up there in Earth orbit we will take the opportunity to map the surface temperature of the surface of the Earth, including the oceans, the temperature structure of the atmosphere, and look to compare this data with that from other Earth-observing instruments.'
Dr Bowles said: 'Once CMS has been tested on TechDemoSat-1, we hope to work with our colleagues at RAL Space to propose the instrument to international space agencies such as
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