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ST5 mission graphic

Space Technology 5

Phase: Past

Launch Date: March 22, 2006

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Program(s):Heliophysics Research

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The ST5, or Nanosat Constellation Trailblazer mission, is the fourth deep space mission in our New Millennium Program. ST5 will test methods for operating a constellation of spacecraft as a single system, using three miniature spacecraft. Each spacecraft is about the size of a birthday cake. The mission will also test eight innovative new technologies.

The Space Technology 5 mission, launched March 22, 2006, and completed June 20, 2006, focused on the design, development, integration and operation of three full service 25-kilogram-class spacecraft that implemented multiple new technologies, functioned as a single constellation, and achieved accurate research-quality scientific measurements.

At Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), the Space Technology 5 (ST5) Project advanced the technology of miniaturizing smart and powerful electronic gadgets by building and testing three small satellites, also known as micro-sats. ST5 micro-sats are about the size of a TV set. Development of these satellites tested and validated new technologies and manufacturing techniques. In addition, the mission contributed to scientists' understanding of the harsh environment of Earth's magnetosphere

The ST5 Project is part of the New Millennium Program (NMP). NMP was created to identify, develop, build, and test innovative technologies and concepts for infusion into future missions. To select which capabilities will be needed, NMP is guided by NASA's Earth and Space Science "roadmaps." These roadmaps lay out the path of future scientific enquiry. They serve not only as a vital guide for NMP's selection of technologies, but are used to conceive and design the Program's test missions as well.

After deployment, the micro-sats were positioned in a "string of pearls" constellation that demonstrated the ability to position the micro-sats to perform simultaneous multi-point measurements of Earth's magnetic field using highly sensitive magnetometers. Using data collected from the ST5 constellation, scientists can begin to understand and map the intensity and direction of the magnetic field, its relation to space weather events, and the affects on our planet.

With the help of pathfinder missions such as ST5, NASA hopes to improve scientists' ability to accurately forecast space weather and thereby minimize its harmful effects on space and ground based systems.