Forecasting Space Weather is Hard. A New Australian Satellite May Help Make It Easier

The Australian-made space weather satellite CUAVA-1 was deployed into orbit from the International Space Station on Wednesday nightLaunched to the space station in August aboard a SpaceX rocket, a major focus of this shoebox-sized CubeSat is to study what radiation from the Sun does to Earth’s atmosphere and electronic devices.

Space weather such as solar flares and changes in the solar wind affects Earth’s ionosphere (a layer of charged particles in the upper atmosphere). This in turn has an impact on long-distance radio communications and the orbits of some satellites, as well as creating fluctuations in the electromagnetic field that can wreak havoc with electronics in space and down to the ground. 

The new satellite is the first designed and built by the Australian Research Council Training Centre for Cubesats, UAVs, and their Applications (or CUAVA for short). It carries payloads and technology demonstrators built by collaborators from the University of Sydney, Macquarie University, and UNSW-Sydney.

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