After the trailblazing MarCO mini satellites blasted off from Earth's orbit to journey to Mars, NASA is announcing yet another adventurous CubeSat mission — this time with an even more daring quest ahead.
Dubbed HaloSat, the tiny spacecraft has already been deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) on July 13, with the task of studying the halo of the Milky Way.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, the tiny HaloSat made its way onto the ISS via the Cygnus OA-9 resupply vehicle, shipped into space on May 21 by Orbital ATK (now Northrop Grumman).
While the cargo ship is currently on a secondary mission to deploy several other CubeSats before heading back to Earth, as reported by the Inquisitr last week, the HaloSat has its own thing going on.
The mini satellite will be orbiting Earth every 90 minutes to soak up as much data as possible on the X-rays produced by the solar wind — an outflow of highly charged particles coming from the sun, explains NASA — as they interact with the uncharged particles in our planet's atmosphere.
The same type of X-ray emissions is thought to exude from the Milky Way's halo, a cloud of hot gas surrounding our galaxy and which can reach temperatures of up to two million degrees Celsius (3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit).
Fried Egg Or Sphere?
According to HaloSat co-investigator Kip Kuntz, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, solar wind emissions make their way into all the scientific observations conducted in space. But since these emissions vary with time and depending on solar wind conditions, they're typically very hard to calculate.
An in-depth look at the X-rays produced by solar wind will help the tiny HaloSat get a clearer picture of what goes on inside our galaxy's halo, so that the satellite can determine its true shape.