NASA - The National Aeronautics and Space Administration

05/25/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/25/2024 02:04

Mission Facts About NASA’s PREFIRE

Rocket Lab's Electron rocket named "Ready, Aim, PREFIRE" is ready for launch from Mahia, New Zealand on May 25, 2024. Photo Credit: Rocket Lab

This is the first of two launches on Rocket Lab Electron rockets to deploy NASA's PREFIRE (Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment) mission.

Rocket Lab has named today's launch "Ready, Aim, PREFIRE." The second PREFIRE launch of a second identical CubeSat is named "PREFIRE and Ice" and will launch within three weeks.

Both PREFIRE CubeSats are scheduled to launch from Rocket Lab's Launch Complex 1 in Māhia, New Zealand.

The PREFIRE satellites are identical in size - 6U CubeSats. The standard CubeSat size - "one unit" or "1U" - measures about four inches cubed and is extendable to larger sizes like the 6U PREFIRE.

The mission is tasked with measuring heat loss from both the Arctic and Antarctica. When in space, both PREFIRE satellites will be in near-polar orbits and provide multiple observations of Arctic and Antarctic surfaces and clouds each day, helping researchers better understand Earth's energy budget.

Once operating, PREFIRE will make the first full spectral measurements of far infrared radiation, revealing the full spectrum of Arctic radiant energy and quantifying spatial and temporal variability in spectral FIR emission and the atmospheric greenhouse effect.

NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida manages the launch service. The mission's principal investigator is Tristan L'Ecuyer from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the mission's project scientist is Brian Drouin of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare (VADR) provides a broad range of FAA-licensed commercial launch services capable of delivering payloads including CubeSats and Class D missions that can tolerate relatively high risk to a variety of orbits.