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Comment Re:Nobody wants to talk about tiny spacecraft. :( (Score 1) 127

Beta is the current Charlie-Foxtrot the Slashdot community is dealing with, and we're nothing if not navel-gazing when it comes to change. Though usually that change isn't quite as damaging as Beta is in the current form. However, for /. to continue to be a useful source of information, the commentators should prove the necessity they are to the success of the site by actually posting useful content, along with the quite justified complaints about the new system being forced on the users.

That having been said, this is a very interesting change in direction for the microsat community. Most microsats live for a few months (at best) in Low Earth orbit. The current NASA contests are for what are essentially the first deep-space microsats, which can potentially (with the right design) perform useful science for decades or more, far away from Earth. Just how much useful propulsion can you cram into a satellite that weighs 3 pounds? With cheap, consumer-level sensors and a few government waivers, I would think quite a lot. The potential of a swarm of mini-RTG-powered microsats zooming around the Solar System towards or around various planets could yield quite a lot of useful science. Not to mention that this could be a useful demonstration for future Von-Newmann probes, simple machines created from raw materials, in an asteroid or planetary moon and spread throughout the Solar System (and beyond?), exploring, replicating, and continuing to send valuable data to Earth to inform future exploration or colonization..

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