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A Fractionated Space Weather Base at L5 using CubeSats and Solar Sails

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The Sun–Earth L5 Lagrange point is an ideal location for an operational space weather forecasting mission to provide early warning of Earth-directed solar storms (coronal mass ejections, shocks and associated solar energetic particles). Such storms can cause damage to power grids, spacecraft, communications systems and astronauts, but these effects can be mitigated if early warning is received. Space weather missions at L5 have been proposed using conventional spacecraft and chemical propulsion at costs of hundreds of millions of dollars. Here we describe a mission concept that could accomplish many of the goals at a much lower cost by dividing the payload among a cluster of interplanetary CubeSats that reach orbits around L5 using solar sails.


  • Solar Wind
  • Space Weather
  • Solar Energetic Particle
  • Maximum Power Point Tracker
  • Solar Sail

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Part of this research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. We thank Tomas Svitek, Stellar Exploration Inc., and Courtney Duncan, JPL, for useful technical discussions. We would like to thank Keck Institute for Space Studies at the California Institute of Technology for hosting the Workshop and providing the opportunity for the interaction between the scientists and the experts in the CubeSat community. We thank Charles Norton, JPL, and Michael Johnson, JA, for organizing the Workshop.

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Correspondence to Paulett C. Liewer .

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Liewer, P.C. et al. (2014). A Fractionated Space Weather Base at L5 using CubeSats and Solar Sails. In: Macdonald, M. (eds) Advances in Solar Sailing. Springer Praxis Books(). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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