is its size?
A nanometer is one billionth of a meter –
about the size of ten hydrogen atoms in a row
or 1/80,000th the diameter of a human hair.
a technology or system to be classified as nanotechnology
at GSFC, at least one dimension of the tech
must measure no larger than 1nm to 100nm.
Nanosat is an often-used name for any small satellite. (On this site, the generic term –smallsat” also may be used to refer to any satellite under 500kg.) However, technically, a nanosat is a satellite in the 1-10 kg range.
Smallsat Classification by Mass (including fuel):
is this a good idea?
Being able to manipulate matter and its fundamental
characteristics could lead to amazing technological
advances. Some ideas include:
Ultra-miniaturized computers that could be
used in health applications
Ultra-light and ultra-strong materials that
could be used to develop protective spacesuits
to shield harmful radiation
Smallsats may enable those in some disciplines to gather data more cheaply and with more reliability. (For example, if a fleet of nanosats is launched, and one is lost, the effect is far less than if a single major craft is lost.) In the near future we will likely see cooperative constellations, local swarms of small satellites, inspection and service missions and flexible launch-on-demand missions.
does this exist in the Real World?
Yes. Stain-resistant material is an example of nanotechnology at work. Tiny particles on the fiber trap air around the fiber, making the clothing difficult to stain. Face creams, sporting equipment, and certain plastics also are nano-enhanced and readily available in the marketplace.
Yes. Goddard's own ST-5, or Space Technology 5 Project, is a trio of smallsats (19.5kg or 47 lbs. fully fueled), each about the size of a television set. They will be launched into a low-Earth orbit to will test and validate new technologies and aid scientists in understanding the harsh environment of the Earth's magnetosphere. On schedule to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in late February 2006, ST5 has a mission duration of 90 days.
are dream applications for this technology?
In 3-10 Years:
focal length telescopic mirror
electrically conductive satellite tethers
rechargeable quantum chemical sensing assays
conformation heat shield
area solar sail
selective exposure radiation shield
bandpass nanocircuits and components
strength bionic-suit with radiation shielding
In 3-10 years it is likely that smallsats will become more and more common as the tiny technologies improve and become flight-tested. It is likely that projects will want to use smallsats, or at least smaller satellites, whenever possible to save on launch costs. However, certain applications only can be done, and done well, by big satellites; so there's likely to be a place for a variety of sizes of satellites ã at least in the near future.