Cosmic Cube could save millions of Taiwan dollars

TAIPEI - A team at National Central University yesterday published its research of the advanced ionospheric probe (AIP) - "Cosmic Cube," which is set to be installed on FORMOSAT-5 with the aim of saving millions of New Taiwan dollars for launching satellites.

In celebration of the achievement, the Ministry of Education (MOE) showcased the "Cosmic Cube" as an achievement that the team of NTC had strived for over 20 years.

It is the first AIP completely made in Taiwan, only weighing 4 kilograms. Compared with the cube designed by the US, which weighs 14 kilograms, Taiwan's is the lightest and smallest in the world, said Chao Chi-kuang, an associate professor at the Graduate Institute of Space Science at NCU.

Due to Taiwan's location, which is close to the equatorial ionization anomaly (EIA), the appearance of irregularities and the electron density in the ionospheric zone have a great impact on GPS, satellite communication and premonitory systems.

"Through the advanced ionospheric probe, we can collect data related to communications and earthquake predictions," Chao said.

By reducing the satellite's weight, a space mission can save up to NT$30 million (S$1.31 million). For example, the 4-kilogram cosmic cube can save millions of New Taiwan dollars for FORMOSAT-5. The research team currently hopes that with the one-kilogram cosmic cube, they can launch the upgraded cube with FORMASAT-7 in 2019.

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