NASA To Launch Twin Satellites To Understand Signal Disruption


NASA is planning to deploy two satellites this month that will study how radio waves that pass through our planet's upper atmosphere can distort by structured bubbles in this region known as the ionosphere.

NASA To Launch Twin Satellites To Understand Signal Disruption


The twin E-TBEx CubeSats will take flight atop SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA said. Causing problems over the equator, the radio signal distortions can interfere with military and airline communication. They could also hamper the process of GPS signaling.

As of now, scientists are unable to predict when these bubbles will form or how they transform with time. "These bubbles are difficult to study from the ground," said Rick Doe, payload program manager for the E-TBEx mission at SRI International.

"If you see the bubbles start to form, they then move. We're studying the evolution of these features before they begin to distort the radio waves going through the ionosphere to better understand the underlying physics," Doe added.

The ionosphere is that part of the Earth's upper atmosphere where particles are ionized, which means they are separated out into a sea of positive and negative particles called plasma.

The data retrieved from E-TBEx will help scientists develop strategies to avoid signal distortion. This will also allow airlines to choose a frequency less susceptible to disruption, NASA said.

Besides, NASA has successfully finished the first hardware test of a robot in space. The robot will be taking care of the International Space Station (ISS) in the coming years. Dubbed Bumble, the robot is one of the three Astrobee robots that will research automated caretaking on the SS.

Bumble and partner robot Honey were sent to the ISS on April 17 aboard Northrop Grumman's eleventh commercial resupply services mission from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Both robots are capable of returning to the docking station without any assistance and recharge their batteries, NASA said.

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