Washington, Feb 23:  NASA has selected four new miniature satellites to be developed, built and launched into low-Earth orbit to test emerging technologies that could enable new and improved understandings of our planet. CubeSats, cube-shaped satellites that can be small enough to fit in the palm of a person’s hand or as big as a large shoebox, were selected by the Earth Science Technology office (ESTO), part of NASA’s Earth Science Division. Small satellites, including CubeSats, are playing an increasingly larger role in exploration, technology demonstration, scientific research and educational investigations at NASA.Also Read - NASA Test Fires Rocket To Smash Speeding Asteroid

These miniature satellites provide a low-cost platform for NASA missions, including planetary space exploration, Earth observations, fundamental Earth and space science, and developing precursor science instruments like cutting-edge laser communications, satellite-to-satellite communications and autonomous movement capabilities. “Most Earth science phenomena measurements can be improved by sustained observations with increased spatial and temporal resolution,” said Charles Norton, ESTO programme associate. “Validating these new compact instrument subsystems today will enable the relevant constellation measurements of the future,” said Norton. (Also Read: NASA releases 1969 recording of strange music from outer space) Also Read - Satellite For Tracking World's Water to Launch in 2022

The four new In-Space Validation of Earth Science Technologies (InVEST) CubeSat selections are CubeSat Radiometer Radio Frequency Interference Technology Validation (CubeRRT), Compact Infrared Radiometer in Space (CIRiS), CubeSat Infrared Atmospheric Sounder (CIRAS) and Precipitation Profiling Radar in a CubeSat (RainCube). CubeRRT is a project to observe, detect, and mitigate radio frequency interference (RFI) for microwave radiometers, an instrument that measures Earth’s properties, including atmospheric water vapour or soil moisture. The CIRiS mission will validate data processing algorithms as well as on-orbit instrument calibration – important for enabling new instruments that could be used in a variety of missions, NASA said. Also Read - Russian Test Blamed for Space Junk Threatening Space Station

CIRAS is designed to develop a CubeSat-size instrument system capable of matching the temperature and water vapour profile measurements in the lower troposphere of the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS), an instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite. A constellation of RainCube satellites would be able to provide the temporal resolution for weather observations that could be used to improve forecasting models, NASA said. The four newly-selected CubeSats each measure 10x20x30 centimetres.