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U.S. Naval Research Laboratory researchers designed and built two science payloads that went up with SpaceX's Falcon 9 Heavy rocket launch on June 25.
The Small Wind and Temperature Spectrometer (SWATS) will help researchers understand the dynamics of the upper layers of Earth's atmosphere, while the Tether Electrodynamic Propulsion CubeSat Experiment (TEPCE) will investigate orbital energy created by the Earth's magnetic field that could propel future spacecraft.
Operating - Earth - Orbit - SWATS - Densities
Operating in low Earth orbit, SWATS will monitor atmospheric densities, winds and temperatures while traveling in an elliptical orbit at altitudes between 350 and 700 kilometers above the Earth's surface. The payload rides aboard NASA's Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM).
"It's important to have in situ [direct] measurements, as well as remote sensing measurements," said Andy Nicholas, lead investigator for SWATS. "[Those measurements will] inform the models and improve predictions for the ionosphere."
Navy - Researchers
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