SOCRATES in Orbit
(Photos (frame by frame) of SOCRATES launch - courtesy of Nanoracks)
The U of MN Small Satellite Research Group's CubeSat, SOCRATES (Signal Opportunity CubeSat Ranging and Timing Experiment System) has officially been deployed from the International Space Station into Earth's orbit. This is the first small satellite built by the U of MN to go into space.
SOCRATES has two missions as it soars with the stars. The first is to demonstrate the operation of an X-ray spectrometer on orbit, which can be used to demonstrate a new method of navigation, X-ray navigation or XNAV, an alternative to GPS. The second mission is to record spectra from x-rays coming from solar flares. This will be used to investigate electron acceleration mechanisms in solar flares which can better inform models of solar weather. Once SOCRATES is in orbit, the team will try to make contact from ground stations across the country—including one in northern Minnesota—with hopes of gathering six months of continuous data from the CubeSat.