ESCAPE: Small Payload Strategies

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by Morgan Jones, Univ of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space III

Abstract: The Extreme ultraviolet Solar Contained Autonomous Payload Experiment (ESCAPE) is a small payload scheduled to fly on the Space Shuttle in April 1992. This payload has been developed at the Space Grant College at the University of Colorado by graduate and undergraduate students with advice from industry. This payload contrasts with other big science missions in that it is small, pursues a very specific objective, and can be completed in a limited time frame. NASA has come under criticism for favoring big science. This payload is an example of what small science can accomplish. Students gain hands-on experience running and managing on the program, and development time and costs are minimal. Even with the minimal cost, this payload is scientifically important. ESCAPE measures the extreme ultraviolet flux from the sun - wavelengths that are absorbed in the upper atmosphere, and are not currently being measured. These wavelengths and their interaction in the upper atmosphere (thermosphere and mesosphere) are poorly understood; however, we do know that the temperature of these regions varies as much as 1000 degrees as a result of solar variability in these wavelengths. ESCAPE is an example of a small, inexpensive, fast, scientifically worthwhile payload. Not only is the science valid and important, the development process provides an educational experience, involving over fifty graduate and undergraduate students in two years.

Subject Headings: Payloads | Students | Wavelength | Undergraduate study | Solar radiation | Scheduling |

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