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How Small Satellites Are Providing Low-Cost Access to Space

Commercial interests and educational institutions among those launching the tiny payloads

4 min read
An engineer at the Jet Propolsion Lab uses sunlight to test the solar arrays on one of the Mars Cube One spacecraft .
An engineer at the Jet Propolsion Lab uses sunlight to test the solar arrays on one of the Mars Cube One spacecraft .
Photo: JPL-Caltech/NASA

THE INSTITUTE Miniature satellites are driving a new wave of innovation in space systems and are generating excitement similar to that of the earliest days of space exploration. The global small satellite market is expected to grow to more than US $7.5 billion by 2022, according to Market Watch.

The tiny satellites are taking on increasingly complex missions. In May the Jet Propulsion Lab–Caltech Mars Cube One mission sent two CubeSats to fly alongside NASA’s InSight lander on its way to Mars. The pair, the first microsatellites to support a deep space mission, are designed to relay data back to Earth this month when InSight reaches its destination.

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Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
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Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford
Blue

Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

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