Space exploration is a field traditionally reserved for established scientists; however, cube satellites designed by California-based NanoSatisfi could change this preconception. Unlike conventional satellites, which have prices ranging from $500 million up to $2 billion, these miniature versions can be developed for considerably less than $1 million.
According to The Verge, the satellite in question is dubbed the ArduSat and is set to launch on August 4th. For just $250 a week, any interested parties can borrow the tiny vessel and explore everything that outer space has to offer. Despite the inexpensive rental costs, the ArduSat appears to be the real deal; it is fitted with multiple cameras, a Geiger counter, a magnetometer, and an ambient light sensor. So how small are we talking? Early reports suggest that the satellite measures just 10 centimeters wide and weighs a mere 2.2 lbs.
The real potential of the ArduSat is that it has opened up the doors of space exploration to everyday people, especially elementary school children and other young scientists. Individuals now have the ability to inexpensively track meteorites, map the earth’s magnetic field, and take photos detailing both the spectrum of the sun as well as the eye of a hurricane. The possibilities are endless.
Peter Platzer, the CEO of NanoSatisfi, added, “Instead of huge, expensive machines, each of which is different, we have smaller, cheaper craft built on a single standard that allows anyone to create improvements for them. We’re taking Moore’s law, and we’re moving it into space.”
Currently, education is the company’s main priority. NanoSatisfi has already enlisted ten schools for the pilot program, and has formed a partnership with NASA to optimize its research and educational outreach. The company has also received upwards of $100,000 through its initial Kickstarter campaign, as well as $1.2 million from external investors.
For those interested, here is a quick video detailing the ArduSat project.