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Science Breakthroughs of 2014: CubeSats

December 30, 2014

2014 Science Breakthroughs of the Year: The rise of the pint-sized satellite.



Tiny satellites that do real science. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

All this week, we are counting down the Science Breakthroughs of the Year, according to the editors of Science magazine. Today, CubeSats: small satellites just 10 cm on a side—about four inches—originally intended for use by students. Science deputy news editor Robert Koontz explains that now, they’re making a big splash in the science world.

ROBERT KOONTZ (Science magazine):

These things have better and better cameras, they have better and better sensors—they’ve taken off in a small way, little by little, but we think that this year is when it really first became possible to do a lot of science with a lot of these little CubeSat satellites.


For example, they’re being used to monitor environmental changes and urban development. And now, constellations of CubeSats are in development, with the satellites joining forces to do jobs previously possible only with more expensive spacecraft. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.