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RainCube Mini weather satellite ends its mission

If you pay attention to details about space, then the RainCube satellite is something you are familiar with at this juncture. However, if the word is new to you, this piece will shed light on this satellite. It is a pioneering NASA mini weather satellite. The space calendar shows that it went to the Earth’s orbit almost two and a half years ago. The shoebox-size satellite sent a message home in the recent space activities before plunging into the Earth’s atmosphere. The RainCube burnt up in 2020, December 24th.

What is the story behind RainCube? Initially, it was lifted off to space as a technology to prove that using a low-cost satellite that was shrinking a weather radar would still deliver high-quality data. RainCube’s lift-off took place on 2018 July 13th, following the guidelines of an International Space Station. The initial mission ran for three months. It worked simply. For instance, it bounced radar signals off of ice, snowflakes, and raindrops to see rain and other kinds of precipitation. Eventually, the instrument would measure the amount of time it took for the signal to return to the satellite. And the strength of the movement after its return.

The results were quite fruitful since experts were able to view all the various occurrences happening worldwide. From the successful mission, RainCube remained in space to observe such measurements for years. Simone Tanelli, the RainCube principal scientist, explained that the satellite’s main goal was to prove that a low-cost satellite can deliver excellent results. Also, it is as good as satellites which are three times the size of RainCube.

To everyone’s surprise, RainCube lasted longer than the initial three months trial period. In 2020, it was given another mission of collecting data for researchers alongside another CubeSat, TEMPEST-D. The CubeSats worked hand in hand in the task but using various instruments. This feature was vital since it gave the researchers a 3D way of observing everything in space.

From the experiences of the two satellites, the RainCube satellite team was happy with the results. In a statement, RainCube project manager Shannon Statham explained how this mission was an eye-opener for many scientists. The experience gave scientists the idea of using multiple CubeSats at the same time to deliver different views for incredible results.

The team explained that a CubeSat represents big things in little packages. It is low-cost but has impressive results. In addition to that, multiple instruments can work together to offer surveillance at all times. Statham praised RainCube claiming that he will miss it, but it was a well-accomplished mission for the team. RainCube is under the sponsorship of NASA’s Earth Science Technology. And scientists are hoping to get a chance to work with CubeSats on upcoming projects.

This post was originally published on Downey Magazine