Want to do your own space experiment? From next week, you will be able to run science projects on the world's first open-source satellites. And it won't break the bank.
ArduSat-1 and ArduSat-X were launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on 3 August aboard a Japanese resupply vehicle (which is also carrying fresh food, supplies and a talking humanoid robot).
Known as CubeSats, each mini satellite packs an array of devices – including cameras, spectrometers and a Geiger counter – into a cube just 10 centimetres to a side.
The cargo ship carrying the CubeSats should arrive at the ISS on 9 August, and the satellites will then be deployed using a robotic-arm technique tested last year. The method can put several small satellites into orbit around Earth, eliminating the need for dedicated launch vehicles and making citizen-science missions like ArduSat more affordable.
"No one has given people access to satellites in the same way that we're doing with ArduSat," says Chris Wake of NanoSatisfi, the San Francisco company that builds and operates the satellites.
The maiden launch was partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign, with backers buying some of the satellites' time slots to run experiments ( via newscientist.com ).