This article was originally published on The Conversation. The book contributed the article to Space.com’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
Shane Keating (opens on new page)Professor in Mathematics and Oceanography, UNSW Sydney
Clare Kenyon (opens on new page)Astrophysicist and Science Communicator, University of Melbourne
Do you want to go to heaven? It can pay you.
This month, the SpaceX Crew Dragon will make the first full -fledged spacecraft to the International Space Station. The travel cost for a seat is US $ 55 million. The ticket comes with an eight -day stay in the center, with room and board – and a variety of ideas. (opens on new page).
Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin offer even smaller options, to fly you to the edge of the sky (opens on new page) for US $ 250,000-500,000 only (opens on new page). But trips are only between 10 (opens on new page) and 15 minutes (opens on new page)Not enough time to enjoy food on the fly.
But if you enjoy keeping your feet on the ground, things will start to get easier. Over the past 20 years, the advancement of small -scale satellite technology has made it possible to orbit the planet to small countries, private organizations, university researchers, and creative professionals. own.
We are scientists studying our world and the universe. Our research travels to the skies to find answers to important questions about how our oceans change to a warmer climate, or to study the big black holes that are pounding. in the hearts of distant stars.
The cost of all that research can be astronomical. The James Webb Space Telescope, which was launched in December 2021 and will search for the first stars and galaxies in the universe, has a final cost of US $ 10 billion after delays and costs. (opens on new page).
The cost is for the International Space Station, which has hosted about 3,000 scientific experiments (opens on new page) over 20 years, running to US $ 150 billion, with another US $ 4 billion annually to keep the lights on.
The satellites of the time, which form the backbone of our astronomical technology and provide important measurements for forecasting the weather and monitoring natural disasters, have even US $ 400 million each to build and start. (opens on new page).
Governments and the public sector – or a multi -billion dollar electorate – make money like this. (opens on new page).
A place for everyone
Current sales options continue to democratize access to the airwaves. They are called nanosatellites (opens on new page)with a charge of less than 10kg with firewood, it can be released individually or in “swarms.”
Since 1998, there have been more than 3,400 nanosatellite missions (opens on new page) has released and returns data used in disaster response, navigation, plant inspections, educational applications and more.
An innovation in small satellite conversion is to compare their shape and size, so they can be fired in large numbers on a single rocket.
Cubesats (opens on new page) a widely used model, 10cm on each side, can be built with off-the-shelf electrical components. They were developed in 1999 by two California-based professors, Jordi Puig-Suari and Bob Twiggs, who wanted graduate students to gain knowledge in design, construction and construction. On their plane.
According to Twiggs, the style and size have improved (opens on new page) by Beanie Babies, a collectible toy that comes in a 10cm cubic display box.
Commercial advertising providers such as SpaceX (opens on new page) in California and Rocket Lab (opens on new page) in New Zealand to offer “rideshare” missions to split the cost of transmission among dozens of small satellites. You can build, test, start and get data from your own cubesat for as little as US $ 200,000 (opens on new page).
The whole world is in the palm of your hand
Small satellites have opened up new avenues to explore our earth and beyond.
One project we use is cubesats and machine learning techniques to observe Antarctic ice from the sky. (opens on new page). Sea ice is important to the climate system and the improved measurements will help us better understand the impact of climate change on Antarctica.
Supported by the UK-Australia Space Bridge project (opens on new page)The project is a partnership between Antarctic universities and research institutes in the two countries and a follow -up company in the UK called Spire Global (opens on new page). Typically, we call the project IceCube.
Smaller satellites are starting to search outside our planet. In 2018, there will be two nanosatellites (opens on new page) He traveled with the NASA Insight mission to Mars to provide real -time communication with the lander in due course. In May 2022, Rocket Lab will launch the first cubesat on the moon (opens on new page) as a precursor to NASA’s Artemis project, which expects to land the first woman and first man of color by 2024.
The small planes were decided to fly to another star. The Broken Star (opens on new page) the project aims to launch fleets of 1,000 aircraft per centimeter in size on the Alpha Centauri star system, 4.37 light years old. Powered by ground-based lasers, the spacecraft will “fly” between interstellar space for 20 to 30 years and return images of the Earth-like exoplanet Proxima Centauri b (opens on new page).
Small but strong
With the progress of miniaturization, satellites are becoming smaller.
The “Picosatellites,” the size of a soft drink can, as well as the “femtosatellites,” are no larger than a computer -generated conglomerate, providing access to beginners. Some can be collected and released for hundreds of dollars (opens on new page).
A Finnish company is experimenting with a cubesat built into wood (opens on new page). And new intelligent satellites, carrying computer -capable components, can determine which information is returned to Earth before sending it anywhere, significantly reducing the cost of radiation. calling home.
It is not necessary to buy the earth after going to heaven.
This article is republished The Conversation (opens on new page) under the Creative Commons license. Read to Original article (opens on new page).