Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, August 4, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 9



 Mountain Views News Saturday August 4, 2012 


Eleven tiny satellites called CubeSats will accompany a spy 
satellite into Earth orbit on Aug. 2, inaugurating a new type 
of inexpensive, modular nanosatellite designed to piggyback 
aboard other NASA missions.

 One of the eleven is CINEMA (CubeSat for Ions, Neutrals, 
Electrons, & MAgnetic fields), an 8-pound, shoebox-size 
package built over a period of three years by 45 students from 
the University of California, Berkeley; Kyung Hee University in 
Korea; Imperial College London; Inter-American University 
of Puerto Rico; and University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez.

 “This is a new way of doing space research, funded by 
the National Science Foundation with launch arranged by 
NASA,” said CINEMA principal investigator Robert Lin, 
professor emeritus of physics and former director of UC 
Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory. “This is our first try, 
but if everything works, we’re going to get a lot of good 
science out of this.”

 CINEMA will obtain images of the “ring current,” an 
electrical current that encircles the Earth and which, during 
large magnetic “space storms,” can blow out power grids on 
the ground. By next year, CubeSat will be joined by three 
identical satellites—two launched by Korea and another 
NASA-launched CubeSat—that together will monitor the 
3-dimensional structure of the ring current and warn of 
dangerous activity.

 CINEMA is one of five university-built CubeSats aboard the 
Atlas V rocket; the other six are military or commercial. The 
main payload is NROL-36, a classified satellite commissioned 
by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.


 NASA’s CubeSat Launch initiative provides an opportunity 
for small satellite payloads to fly as auxiliary payloads 
on previously planned missions. The nanosatellites are 
made of cubes that are approximately four inches on a 
side, have a volume of about one quart, weigh about two 
pounds, and are meant to be grouped in twos or threes for 
a particular satellite. CINEMA, for example, is comprised 
of three cubes. Some two dozen CubeSats are built or 
under construction at universities alone, and these 11 are 
the first to go into orbit.

 For three years, Lin has overseen the construction and 
testing of CINEMA, aided by 25 UC Berkeley science and 
engineering undergraduates and graduate students. For 
two summers and winter vacations, some 10 students 
from Korea came to UC Berkeley to assist, while 8 students 
from Puerto Rico came to help with the engineering.

 “There is more risk with these projects, because we use 
off-the-shelf products, 90 percent of the work is done by 
students, and the parts are not radiation-hard,” Lin said. 
“But it is cheaper and has the latest hardware. I will be 
very impressed if it lasts more than a year in orbit.”

 The spacecraft carries a new instrument, STEIN, which 
detects energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) to produce an 
image of the high-energy charged particles in Earth’s 
atmosphere, mostly ionized hydrogen and oxygen.

 “It’s like astronomy, but using neutral particles instead of 
light to create an image,” Lin said.

 Lin and his UC Berkeley colleagues, including research 
physicist Thomas Immel and grad student John Sample, will 
communicate with CINEMA through the lab’s Mission 

Operations Center and Ground Station, a radio dish in the 
Berkeley hills.

 you can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@MtnViewsNews.

Jerry Kim, a former student and systems engineer, holds 
the CINEMA nanosatellite before it was packaged up and 
sent to NASA in January 2012. Robert Sanders photo.


 Have you been keeping up with the Olympics? It’s hard to avoid, being 
splashed across headlines and continuously replayed on TV. Every angle 
of the Olympics have been analyzed, from questions about indeterminate 
gender to doping speculations. No doubt you’re sick of hearing about it. 
It’s always challenging to find a new spin on an overused topic, but I like to 
try. The only problem is --I don’t have a TV!

 Of course, there’s plenty of Olympic information in newspapers and online. But reading 
about it and looking at pictures just doesn’t provide the same level of understanding that 
actual viewership does. Therefore, I’m coming at this article with limited knowledge of the 
subject. (But then again; that’s never stopped me before!) So, here are my thoughts, for what 
they’re worth, regarding the games going on across the pond.

 It’s a mystery to me why some sports are greatly emphasized over others. Why are 
swimming, diving, and gymnastics more enthralling than, say, sailing and table tennis? 
In the winter Olympics, the media’s all about figure skating, while events like bobsledding 
and “skeleton” (luge racing, but headfirst) are comparatively overlooked. Perhaps viewers 
subconsciously gravitate toward sports in which the competitors are encased in spandex or 
nearly naked. Like super heroes, these athletes portray the perfect human body. And they 
accomplish physical feats the rest of us couldn’t dream of doing.

 This brings up 
another Olympic 
observation: athletic 

 When we look back 
at photos from past 
Olympic games, we 
sometimes chuckle at 
the incredibly dated 
clothing. How is it that 
something so basic as a 
leotard can be made to 
look like an explosion 
of garish geometric 
shapes? However, 
the most unflattering 
outfit, as I see it, is the 
fencing getup.

 Obviously, the 
fencing uniform’s main 
function is protection 
rather than fashion. I 
know nothing about 
fashion, but I think the fencing outfit emphasizes all the wrong places (especially for women). 
It’s bad enough that the face mask makes the wearer look like the monster from “The Fly” 
with Vincent Price. (If you haven’t seen that movie, it’s your homework for the week!) But 
these new electronic fandanglements rigged with wires running from the waist to the head 
make them look like storm troopers with a helmet full of Christmas lights.

 At least there are some sports that don’t require the players to dress too foolishly. Golf 
comes to mind, although it’s not featured in these Olympics. Another nice thing about 
golf is that you don’t have to have a body like a Greek god to play well. There’s something 
refreshing about seeing a young, cute thing beaten to oblivion by a portly lady in her fifties. 
But I digress. Hopefully next week will find me more knowledgeable. Maybe I’ll have a 
chance to catch the games on TV at a restaurant or something. Until then, you enjoy them 
for me! And rent “The Fly!”


These days one would need to be operating 
on a super-sized dose of naïveté in order to 
believe that one’s personal data and web habits 
weren’t being tracked and catalogued on a 
daily basis. Tracking cookies are the norm on 
nearly all websites today and a quick review 
of the tech headlines over the last year or so 
would certainly make it clear that certain 
unnamed social media giants have earned a 
bit of a reputation for mishandling or over-
collecting users’ personal data. Beside the big 
splashes that we hear about every so often 
there are several other ways through which 
online entities may be intruding on your 

At the top of the list is the federated group 
of intelligence agencies that make up our national 
security state. The very idea the government 
agents may be reading your emails 
and listening in on your calls sounds like 
the stuff of late-night AM radio conspiracy 
theories but saner minds claim that it’s not 
only possible but that it’s been going on for 
quite some time. Since the tragic events of 
9/11 a major undertaking has been the construction 
of a super-sized data center to sift 
through the massive amounts of data traversing 
our communications networks every 
second of every day. 

Government whistle-blowers have confirmed 
that our homeland security offices 
have been hard at work compiling dossiers 
on nearly every US citizen or person within 
our borders but good luck with getting any 
kind of official confirmation on theses activities. 
Needless to say it would be impossible 
to “opt-out” of these types of data-collection 
processes. For more information check out 
the Electronic Freedom Foundation website 
( for details on the types of 
activities our government may be up to and 
what you can do about it. It also seems that 
our wireless carriers have begun to get in on 
the act. 

One lucrative gig involves retrieving users’ 
locations on behalf of law enforcement, and 
in many cases without warrants. In 2011 
AT&T reportedly received $8.2 Million for 
providing this service. Other big wireless 
providers have found that using aggregated, 
anonymous customer data gathered from 
web surfing apps is a service that third-
parties can then use to target ads to specific 

In order to opt-out of targeted advertising, 
users must contact their service provider 
and explicitly request that their data not be 
provided to third-parties. Users who may be 
concerned about being followed can stop using 
location-based GPS apps on your phone. 
Debt Collectors have found Facebook to be a 
valuable source for tracking people who may 
or may not be in debt and while this method 
of collection may not be new to many apparently 
some unlucky users are just beginning 
to hear about it. 

Horror stories abound of debt collectors who 
not only stalk the debtor but harass family 
and friends as well. In the physical world legislation 
currently on the books govern the 
ways in which collectors may contact debtors 
but online the rules are a bit murkier. The 
main thing one can do in this instance is to 
adjust your privacy settings so that strangers 
may not contact you. 

Facebook has also made it quite clear that it 
does not condone such behavior on its network 
and advises users to contact the company, 
the Federal Trade Commission and 
the relevant Attorney General for the state in