Before launching any satellite into orbit, a verification test procedure is required, with one of the critical environmental tests being the thermal vacuum (TV) test. However, many low-budget nanosatellite projects, mostly led by universities, decide to spare the expenses of this high cost testing procedure. Others may perform the test using superfluous infrastructure, with a testing process unsuited specifically for nanosatellites.
Due to breakthrough advances in miniaturization, the scale of spacecraft components can now be reduced to the millimeter scale. Termed as “smart dust”, the concept of spacecraft on a chip promises to enable a novel category of such centimeter-sized spacecraft to be flown in swarms of hundreds or even thousands. One alternative is to exploit perturbations like solar radiation pressure (SRP) for orbit control without using artificial forces thus yielding stable equilibrium solutions that could sustain mission requirements.
Innovation is the key to powering space exploration. At JPL, we continually strive to innovate to create the capability to explore our solar system and answer the hard science questions. We’ll explore innovations in earth science, Mars Exploration, outer planet exploration, data science/machine learning, and quantum detectors to enable the next generation of spacecraft and systems.