SCIENCE

Space radio built at USU is now orbiting the Moon

Nov 30, 2022, 3:21 PM | Updated: 3:26 pm
Space Dynamics Laboratory CAPSTONE CubeSat...
NORTH LOGAN, Utah, Nov. 30, 2022 – A deep space radio built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory at Utah State University is operating successfully onboard a NASA CubeSat technology demonstration mission to support Gateway, a vital component of NASA’s Artemis program. (Credits: Illustration by NASA/Daniel Rutter)
(Credits: Illustration by NASA/Daniel Rutter)

NORTH LOGAN, Utah — A deep space radio named Iris, built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory at Utah State University, has been in lunar orbit since Nov. 13.

The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, or CAPSTONE, is enclosed in a NASA CubeSat that was on the Artemis rocket when it launched from the Kennedy Space Center on November 16.

The CubeSat supports Gateway which is a part of the Artemis program. A news release from the Space Dynamics Lab said CAPSTONE is the first CubeSat to orbit the Moon.

Tim Neilsen, SDL’s CAPSTONE program manager said, “Preliminary telemetry received from the spacecraft following its insertion into a lunar orbit indicates that the Iris Radio is healthy and operating nominally.”

CAPSTONE revealed in sunlight

NORTH LOGAN, Utah, Nov. 30, 2022 –CAPSTONE revealed in lunar Sunrise The CAPSTONE mission will demonstrate an innovative spacecraft-to-spacecraft navigation solution at the Moon from a near rectilinear halo orbit slated for Artemis’ Gateway. (Credits: Illustration by NASA/Daniel Rutter)

The Iris Radio is a critical link for the CubeSat and mission control on Earth. The release said SDL designed and manufactured the CAPSTONE Iris Radio to operate in the extreme temperatures and radiation environment experienced in lunar orbit.

The CubeSat is about the size of a microwave oven. Its mission is to help keep the spacecraft at a specific area in the gravities of Earth and the Moon the release explained.

The IRIS technology has become much smaller over the years, and better.

“You couldn’t pack so much technology into such a small cube here. But with this, we’re able to send a large volume of data down to the ground,” Neilsen told KSL in August.

One of those satellites will help look for evidence of water and another will map the moon’s craters.

CAPSTONE CubeSat is a pathfinder mission for the Lunar Gateway according to the news release. Gateway is part of NASA’s Artemis to use the Moon’s surface as a base for deep space exploration.

“The significant increase in small satellites such as CAPSTONE being used for deep space missions necessitates robust and reliable communications systems like the Iris Radio, which can transmit data to NASA’s Deep Space Network and other international ground networks,” Neilsen said. “The CAPSTONE Iris Radio will also perform ranging functions to help the spacecraft navigate around its new orbit. SDL builds and tests Iris Radio technology in our NASA-certified facilities, and we are proud to support this important pathfinder mission for the Lunar Gateway and Artemis program.”

The design for the Iris Radio originated at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In 2016 SDL took over the continued development of the project.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Science

A graphic image of a plane-like spacecraft...
Ashley Strickland

Cosmic seaplanes and self-growing bricks could help us explore other worlds

What are the emerging technologies that could provide new ways of studying the universe?
2 days ago
snow covered bowl in Utah mountains...
Larry D. Curtis

Utah’s Peter Sinks reaches -62 Monday; Why does it get so cold?

LOGAN, Utah — Why so cold Utah? It was cold all over the Beehive State Monday, but Peter Sinks recorded a jaw-dropping -62. The second coldest temperature ever recorded in the lower 48 states was in Utah, in the same place, a notorious cold spot 20 miles northeast of Logan. In 1985 Peter Sinks recorded […]
7 days ago
This image taken from video provided by the NAOJ & Asahi Shimbun, shows spiral swirling through...
Audrey McAvoy, Associated Press

Camera captures night sky spiral after SpaceX rocket launch

A camera atop Hawaii's tallest mountain has captured what looks like a spiral swirling through the night sky. Researchers believe it shows the aftereffects of a SpaceX rocket launch when the company's Falcon 9 rocket sent a GPS satellite into orbit.
10 days ago
Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was discovered by astronomers using the wide-field survey camera at the Zwick...
Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer

Green comet zooming our way, last visited 50,000 years ago

A comet is streaking back our way after 50,000 years. NASA says the dirty snowball last visited during Neanderthal times.
10 days ago
The rotation of Earth's core may have paused, scientists in China have suggested. (Adobe Stock via ...
Lianne Kolirin

Earth’s inner core may have stopped turning and could go into reverse, study suggests

The rotation of Earth's inner core may have paused and it could even go into reverse, new research suggests.
11 days ago
Nathan Clark U of U researcher...
Peter Rosen

Utah professor’s team may have figured out why we lost our fur coats

Scientists at the University of Utah and the University of Pittsburgh think they know the genes that made us lose our fur coats.
12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Space radio built at USU is now orbiting the Moon