NASA plans to launch two small satellites for a mission to study the distortions of radio signal transmissions through the ionosphere, a region where particles ionize into plasma this month. The Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment or E-TBEx CubeSats will launch on a SpaceX-made Falcon Heavy rocket as part of the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2, the space agency said Monday.
The launch would carry 24 satellites in total and take place from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The E-TBEx satellites will help scientists study the structured bubbles that cause distortions in the ionosphere. These distortions affect communications and global positioning system signals across military and airline operations.
The study seeks to determine how the structured bubbles change over time. SRI International provided E-TBEx’s beacon, and a laboratory within the University of Michigan designed and developed the satellites. The U.S. Air Force recently announced the STP-2 launch’s schedule move to June 24.