Carrying out a scientific measurement campaign with a satellite constellation to probe the middle and lower thermosphere.
13 August 2018
The QB50 mission demonstrates the possibility of launching a network of CubeSats built by Universities Teams all over the world to perform first-class science in the largely unexplored lower thermosphere.
Space agencies are not pursuing a multi-spacecraft network for in-situ measurements in the lower thermosphere because the cost of a network of 50 satellites built to industrial standards would be extremely high and not justifiable in view of the limited orbital lifetime. No atmospheric network mission for in-situ measurements has been carried out in the past or is planned for the future. A network of satellites for in-situ measurements in the lower thermosphere can only be realised by using very low-cost satellites, and CubeSats are the only realistic option.
36 CubeSats have been launched into orbit in 2017. Their positions, data, and detailed information can be found on the QB50 Display, Processing and Archiving Center.