The Relativistic Electron Atmospheric Loss Cubesat
Annotated original REAL Spacecraft design.
The overarching objective for the REAL Cubesat is to improve our understanding of the physical mechanisms responsible for scattering radiation belt electrons into the atmosphere. REAL's mission will characterize different modes of atmospheric loss by making precision measurements of the electron pitch angle and energy distributions in low Earth orbit over a wide energy range (keV to MeV). With this, REAL will determine when and where different modes of electron precipitation loss occur, how they depend on energy, and what relative impact they have on the radiation belts. These objectives help develop the knowledge and capability to detect and predict extreme conditions in space in order to further help protect life and society as well as safegaurd human and robotic explorers beyond Earth.
Launch date expected in the year 2022.
The REAL Spacecraft is a 3U reseach cubesate built and tested here at Montana State University. The cubesat's design is based on improvements made from our IT-SPINS spacecraft and housing an Energetic Particle Sensor (ECP) payload built at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. The ECP will use three independent sensors with varying energy ranges to make high time-resolution and high energy-resolution observations at 5 pitch-angles simultaneously.