Image of the Day: CubeSat Cannon

Credit: Koichi Wakata

CubeSats are tiny (10 centimeter cubes) little satellites designed to be affordable and accessible research platforms for nearly anyone, including high school and college students. They can be hauled up to the International Space Station by the bushel (or near enough), but getting them into orbit is another matter. Rather than asking an astronaut to take a spacewalk and chuck the CubeSats away from the ISS by hand, there is instead a spring-loaded CubeSat Cannon (pictured above) that takes care of deployment.

This system was tested for the first time in October of last year, but it didn't get nearly as much fanfare, possibly because it's not actually called a "CubeSat Cannon," but rather less excitingly the "JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer," or J-SSOD. In this nested acronym, JEM stands for Japanese Experiment Module, which serves as the base for the robotic arm that holds the cannon. I mean, the J-SSOD, which really should stand for "Jigantic Super Scary Obliteration Device."

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JAXA, via Discovery

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