2018.A.4.1. The Puerto Rico CubeSat NanoRocks-2 (PR-CuNaR2)


Amilcar Rincon-Charris (1)
Joshua Colwell (2)
Julie Brisset (2)
Adrienne Dove (2)

  1. Inter American University of Puerto Rico – Bayamon, United States of America
  2. University of Central Florida, United States of America




low energy collision, cubesat


The Puerto Rico CubeSat NanoRocks-2 (PRCuNaR2) is an educational and scientific collaboration between Inter-American University of Puerto Rico – Bayamon Campus, the Florida Space Institute and Department of Physics of the University of Central Florida (UCF).

The PR-CuNaR2 is a 3U (10x10x30 cm) configuration. It will orbit at about 400 km altitude in a high inclination orbit. Active attitude control will be used to align the long (3U) axis along the orbital path, and the satellite will spin around the 3U axis to assist in thermal management. Control of the satellite and downloading of data will be via a 915-MHz radio communications system.

The proposed scientific payload for the PRCuNaR2, is an experimental setup for the exploration of low-energy collisions in the protoplanetary disk and in planetary ring systems, such as Saturn’s rings. The experiment builds on a precursor experiment, NanoRocks on NanoRacks, that flew on the International Space Station and addresses questions raised by that experiment and that could not be explored on the ISS. The experiment will take advantage of the long duration and high quality of microgravity provided by a CubeSat in Low-Earth-Orbit (LEO) to obtain a large sample of collisional outcomes at very low velocities (<10 cm/s). The experiment consists of chambers containing different populations of particles that are mechanically shaken to induce collisions between the particles. Video of the collisions will indicate the collision parameters (mass, density and composition of particles, and collision velocities) that lead to sticking, rebound, and fragmentation of aggregates.

In the case of rebound the coefficient of restitution (a measure of the dissipation of energy) will be measured. These results will have a direct scientific application to the question of the collisional evolution of Saturn’s rings, where particles undergo well as the conditions necessary for the earliest stages of planet formation.

Additionally, the data we collect on inter-particle collisions and the behavior of dense particle systems in a low gravity environment will inform the development of hardware and procedures for operation on the surfaces of small airless bodies, such as asteroids, where there is very low gravity and surface regolith disturbances may occur.


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