Big things can come in small packages.
Chasqui is a small satellite, a cube that is about 4 inches to a side, and weighing about two pounds. And it has just been released from the International Space Station to begin its mission to orbit the earth.
Russian astronaut Oleg Artemiev, working with Alexander Skvortsov, activated the tiny satellite and it began its mission to take photographs of the Earth. Of course, part of its purpose was to see if the mechanics of the small satellite would even work.
The little satellite was made in Peru, at the Universidad Nacional de Ingenieria (National University of Engineering) in Lima. Besides a standard camera and an infrared camera, the Chasqui also has sensors to measure temperature and pressure, a computer system and a radio. The satellite is powered by solar cells.
Chasqui gets its name from the word for the Incan messengers who quickly relayed messages and objects across the Incan empire.
This spacewalk by the two Russian astronauts where the satellite was released into orbit was recorded and broadcast by NASA television.
There were two other objectives of the spacewalk by the two astronauts, besides deploying Chasqui: the collection of samples from ongoing science experiments on the outside of the International Space Station and the installation of several new experiments to the exterior.
The two American astronauts aboard the International Space Station, Steven R. Swanson and Reed Wiseman, have not participated in a spacewalk in almost a year, since the malfunction of the cooling system of a U.S. spacesuit that almost resulted in the drowning of Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano. With the investigation into that incident complete, and safety improvements implements for the spacesuits, U.S. spacewalks are expected to resume in the fall.