Statement of Task
An ad hoc committee under the auspices of the National Research Council will review the current state of the scientific potential and technological promise of CubeSats. CubeSats are small satellites built in increments of 10 cm cubes (1 cube is called 1U or “unit,” two 10 cm cubes together are known as 2U, and so on). In particular, the committee will review the potential of CubeSats as platforms for obtaining high priority science data including, but not limited to, the priority science challenges identified in (a) recent NRC decadal surveys in astronomy and astrophysics, Earth science, planetary science, and solar and space physics (heliophysics) and (b) the science priorities identified in the 2014 NASA Science Plan. The committee’s review will provide a set of recommendations on how to assure the scientific return on future federal agency support of CubeSat programs.
The committee will:
- Develop a brief summary overview of the status, capability, availability, and accomplishments of a selection of existing CubeSat programs in the government, academic, and industrial sectors.
- Recommend any potential near-term investments that could be made (a) to improve the capabilities that have a high impact on the increased science and technology return—thereby increasing the value of CubeSats to the science community—and (b) to enable the science communities’ use of CubeSats.
- Identify a set of sample priority science goals that describe near-term science opportunities—such as providing continuity of key measurements to mitigate potential gaps in measurements of key parameters—and that can be accomplished given the current state of CubeSat capabilities.