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Mission type Technology/Education
Operator University of Michigan
COSPAR ID 2011-061F
SATCAT № 37855
Website http://www.umcubed.org
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type CubeSat
Start of mission
Launch date 28 October 2011 (2011-10-28)
Rocket Delta II 7920-10C
Launch site Vandenberg SLC-2W
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Eccentricity 0.0215612
Inclination 101.7178°
RAAN 229.4521°
Argument of perigee 355.7858°
Mean anomaly 120.6105°
Mean motion 14.90323087 orbits/day
Epoch July 7, 2014[1]

M-Cubed is a miniaturized satellite built by students at the University of Michigan in joint project run by the Michigan Exploration Laboratory (MXL) and JPL . It is an example of the popular CubeSat design for amateur satellites. It was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on October 28, 2011 atop a Delta II rocket. M-Cubed was launched as a secondary payload to the Suomi NPP satellite, along with AubieSat-1, DICE-1, DICE-2, Explorer-1 Prime, and RAX-2.[2]

M-Cubed, short for Michigan Multipurpose Minisat, was designed as a technology demonstrator for a new FPGA-based image processing system intended for a future NASA mission, Aerosol-Cloud-Ecosystem, recommended by the Earth Science Decadal Survey.[3] The mission was also intended to validate the satellite bus design for use in future cubesat missions. The satellite uses a passive magnetorquer for attitude control, consisting of a large permanent magnet that aligns the satellite with the Earth's magnetic field. On-board control is provided by a Taskit Stamp9G20 microcontroller running Real time Linux.[2]

Following launch, MXL was unable to command M-Cubed, and observed anomalies in its transmitted data. MXL concluded that the M-Cubed CubeSat became magnetically conjoined to Explorer-1 Prime, a second CubeSat released at the same time, via both satellites' attitude control magnets.[2][4] This is the first recorded instance of two satellites unintentionally and non-destructively latching together;[5] however, as a result of this incident M-Cubed was unable to complete its mission.[2]

The M-Cubed mission was successfully re-flown as MCubed-2,[6] launched on December 6, 2013.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "NORAD Catalog Number 37855". Retrieved July 9, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d "M3 / M-Cubed". eoPortal. Retrieved July 9, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Student-built satellite to prepare NASA instrument". Phys.org. October 26, 2011. Retrieved July 9, 2014. 
  4. ^ Springmann, J. C.; Bertino-Reibstein, A.; Cutler, J. W. (2013). "Investigation of the on-orbit conjunction between the MCubed and HRBE CubeSats". 2013 IEEE Aerospace Conference. doi:10.1109/AERO.2013.6497127.  edit
  5. ^ a b "MCubed-2". National Space Flight Data Center. August 16, 2013. Retrieved July 9, 2014. 
  6. ^ "MCubed-2". eoPortal. Retrieved July 9, 2014. 

External links[edit]