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  •  Jake Singh 


 Jake Singh 

A new application of very small satellites, weighing less than one kilogram and deployable in large clusters, is likely to change the game for space exploration, operations, and citizen participation. Student and citizen scientist user groups are using flat picosatellites—cheap, simple, and deployable in large numbers and at low altitudes. ThinSats and ThumbSats show great promise in promoting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and fostering high demand for space access. Additionally, successful citizen space applications of these satellites could lead to new applications across the spectrum of space actors—similar to the evolution of CubeSats from their academic origins to their current role as a recognized asset for military communications and even Mars exploration. 

The use of picosatellites introduces questions and issues, including the demand for citizen science in an increasingly “democratized space.” Who wants to do what with these satellites? What are other ways in which they could be used? What potential problems emerge with mass deployments? Picosatellite applications will have implications not only for citizen space but for mainstream space missions. 

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