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2018-08-23. Tiny spacecraft are breaking out of Earth’s orbit.

posted Aug 26, 2018, 8:06 PM by Alan D. GOULD BA
By Eric Hand, Science Magazine. [http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/08/tiny-spacecraft-are-breaking-out-earth-s-orbit] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 2. Excerpt: Cheap, small satellites have swarmed into Earth orbit over the past decade, cutting the cost of studying our home planet from space. Now, these spacecraft, some no bigger than a briefcase, are becoming capable enough to venture into deep space—or at least the inner solar system. Two are halfway to Mars, more than a dozen planetary probes are in development, and scientists are coming up with ever more daring ideas for doing cheap, high-risk interplanetary science. ...Small satellites can be assembled from low-cost components and released by the dozen from a single rocket. But systems key to interplanetary flight, including propulsion, communication, and navigation, have traditionally been too bulky to fit into a small package. ...A mission called Mars Cube One (MarCO), ...showcases a miniature guidance, navigation, and control system developed by Blue Canyon Technologies in Boulder, Colorado. ...The company shrank reaction wheels, gyroscopes, and star trackers into a system that sells for less than $150,000 and fits in half a cube. ...CubeSats in Earth orbit have tested solar sails, thin mirrored foils that deliver a gentle push from the pressure of sunlight....