Big Science with Small Satellites



Small Satellites are becoming increasingly effective and efficient platforms for scientific research. This year, NASA launched the first and second interplanetary cubesats – MarCO-A and B – intended to test out new miniaturized communication and navigation technologies and, as a secondary goal, support the InSight Mars Lander mission.

Miniaturized technology is at a stage where meaningful science can come out of smaller platforms, and can even complement or support the scientific investigations carried out by NASA’s medium and large missions. A 2016 National Academies study title, Achieving Science with CubeSats: Thinking Inside the Box, noted that “CubeSats can potentially address important science goals… CubeSats are now part of a trend toward an increasingly diverse set of platforms for pursuing space and Earth sciences.”

This panel will discuss the advantages and the challenges to using small satellites for science and research purposes. The panel will consist of Principle Investigators of current small sat missions, prominent members of the science and research community, as well as representatives from NASA, National Academies, and the National Science Foundation.