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Way Way Out A Montana-built satellite was delivered to California this week

April 16, 2005View for printing

A Montana-built satellite was delivered to California this week, taking the four-year project closer to a much longer trip as the state's first satellite to go into long-term orbit.

Dave Klumpar, research professor of physics at Montana State University and head of the school's Space Science and Engineering Lab, called the Montana Earth Orbiting Pico Explorer a first in the state's burgeoning aerospace efforts.

"It's a major first for Montana," Klumpar said. "Our primary goal is to bring space hardware development projects to Montana. In particular, we're devoted to involving undergraduate and graduate students at MSU in that process."

Three major satellite projects are currently in development at MSU's space lab. MEROPE, the oldest of the three, began four years ago.

The satellite's payload includes a Geiger tube that measures radiation levels in the Van Allen Belts — fields of radiation around the Earth. It's also equipped with a collimator — a device that raises the Geiger tube's saturation threshold should the satellite encounter heavy radiation in the highly charged belts.

By MARTIN J. KIDSTON - IR Feature Writer

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