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The Project Starshine student satellite tracking experiment

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2 Author(s)
R. G. Moore ; Project Starshine, Monument, CO, USA ; T. R. Meek

On May 13, 1999, NASA will eject a small, mirrored satellite from the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle orbiter Discovery during its STS-96 mission to the International Space Station, in an innovative space education experiment known as Project Starshine. More than one thousand alternating teams of school children around the world will visually track this satellite, during morning and evening twilight intervals, throughout its expected six-month lifetime, by observing flashes of sunlight reflecting from 878 mirrors mounted on its surface as the satellite sweeps across the star background. They will post their observations of its angular position on the project's web site, compute the satellite's orbit on a daily basis, observe changes in its orbit caused by atmospheric drag, and calculate the density of the Earth's upper atmosphere that produces that drag. They will also use the Internet to observe Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite images of solar storms as the current eleven-year sunspot cycle nears its peak, and they will relate the frequency and intensity of those storms to their own measurements of fluctuations in atmospheric density. If the first mission is successful, it will be repeated annually throughout a sunspot cycle. Updated Starshine information will be posted throughout the life of the project on the Internet at http//

Published in:

Aerospace Conference, 1999. Proceedings. 1999 IEEE  (Volume:5 )

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