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Cubesat Application for Planetary Entry (CAPE) Missions: Micro-Return Capsule (MIRCA)The Cubesat Application for Planetary Entry Missions (CAPE) concept describes a high-performing Cubesat system which includes a propulsion module and miniaturized technologies capable of surviving atmospheric entry heating, while reliably transmitting scientific and engineering data. The Micro Return Capsule (MIRCA) is CAPE's first planetary entry probe flight prototype. Within this context, this paper briefly describes CAPE's configuration and typical operational scenario, and summarizes ongoing work on the design and basic aerodynamic characteristics of the prototype MIRCA vehicle. CAPE not only opens the door to new planetary mission capabilities, it also offers relatively low-cost opportunities especially suitable to university participation. In broad terms, CAPE consists of two main functional components: the "service module" (SM), and "CAPE's entry probe" (CEP). The SM contains the subsystems necessary to support vehicle targeting (propulsion, ACS, computer, power) and the communications capability to relay data from the CEP probe to an orbiting "mother-ship". The CEP itself carries the scientific instrumentation capable of measuring atmospheric properties (such as density, temperature, composition), and embedded engineering sensors for Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL). The first flight of MIRCA was successfully completed on 10 October 2015 as a "piggy-back" payload onboard a NASA stratospheric balloon launched from Ft. Sumner, NM.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Goddard Space Flight Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Esper, Jaime
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Date Acquired
August 12, 2016
Publication Date
August 6, 2016
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: Annual AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites
Location: Logan, UT
Country: United States
Start Date: August 6, 2016
End Date: August 11, 2016
Sponsors: Utah Univ., American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
Planetary Entry
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