Prof. Cutler and three members of MXL, Sara Spangelo, John Springmann, and Allison Craddock, participated in a workshop at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) last week.
The general scope of the workshop was to identify a wide variety of science applications that take advantage of the flexibility and low cost of small satellites, especially on missions to explore small bodies (comets, asteroids) and other near earth objects.
After this initial brainstorming session, the workshop scope was expanded to include all destinations that might benefit from small satellite secondary missions. JPL scientists participated in a panel session to answer questions and assist in identifying challenges and requirements for such missions.
MXL team members, along with representatives from The University of Colorado and Cal Poly, were paired with JPL mentors to come up with the engineering necessary to achieve the previously established scientific objectives. The university-JPL teams then gave brief presentations to the group, explaining their thought processes and rough design proposals. The workshop identified many compelling science applications that cannot be achieved with current mission architecture but may be enabled or enhanced with small satellites.