Imagine being able to contribute to space with a tiny satellite and have the world potentially hear all about it.
Well, Aerospace engineer Shaun Whitehead might have made that possible. His ThumbSat project plans on sending 20 mini satellites — each measuring just 16 inches with a micro camera and GPS — in near-Earth orbit early next year, according to Wired.
The plan is for each ThumbSat to carry an engaging science experiment into orbit for two months, while beaming data back to 50 listening stations worldwide, before the satellites burn up in the atmosphere.
The overall goal with this project is to simply help regular citizens, who would normally have no outlet or input with space exploration, send something of their own into orbit.
"We get slowed down by old-school ways of thinking," Whitehead told Wired. "I hope that ThumbSat accelerates progress in space, inspires everyone to look up."
The ThumbSat crafts are small enough to be tucked into a crevice of a space launcher, able to get a ride to keep its costs down. And how much would it cost to send one of your science experiments into orbit via a ThumbSat? According to Wired, the cost, including launch, will run $15,000 — a substantial amount, but still relatively low in regards to anything having to do with space.
Thus far, Whitehead has gained interest from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, wanting to send a bundle of ThumbSats into orbit to document gravitational waves. As reported in the Wired story, there are also three teenage siblings from Tennessee, wanting to see how algae and sea monkey eggs orbit, as well as artist Stefan G. Bucher aiming to learn how magnetized fluids fare.
Whitehead plans for a group of volunteers to track all data being beamed back to Earth from the ThumbSats.
What would you send into orbit?