spacerSatelliteTeamLaunchMissionClassroomPress RoomSearchTERRIERS Home Pagespacer
 Press Releases
 >> Fact Sheet
 Photo Gallery
 Contact Information  

Shauna LaFauci -
Joan Schwartz -
Phone: (617) 353-2240

TERRIERS Facts & Figures

  • Boston University's TERRIERS satellite, designed and built by a team of undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty will be launched April 18, 1999, from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, near Lompoc, CA.
  • The launch is scheduled to take place at 10 PM PDT (midnight EST) on April 18th, and will first make contact with mission control as it passes directly over Boston for the first time at 9 AM EDT on April 19th.
  • The satellite will be launched by a Pegasus rocket to an altitude of approximately 550 kilometers, or about 340 miles. The three-stage rocket is carried aloft by an L-1011 "Stargazer" aircraft to a point approximately 40,000 feet over open ocean. There it is released and then free-falls in a horizontal position for five seconds before igniting its first stage rocket motor. With the aerodynamic lift generated by its delta wing, the small rocket achieves orbit hundreds of miles above the Earth in approximately ten minutes.
  • The satellite will circle the globe in a polar orbit once every 98 minutes, travelling at a rate of about five miles per second.
  • A team of undergraduate student operators at BU will control and monitor the satellite as it passes over Boston in a sun-synchronous orbit.
  • The acronym TERRIERS stands for Tomographic Experiment using Radiative Recombinative Ionospheric EUV and Radio Sources. It is named in honor of the Boston University mascot, the Boston terrier.
  • TERRIERS will produce a three-dimensional image of the upper atmosphere similar to the image of the human body provided by a CAT scan. Satellite data will help scientists predict space weather conditions in the ionosphere that can disrupt communications systems on Earth.
  • TERRIERS is part of NASA's Student Explorer Demonstration Initiative which addresses the challenge of making orbital science accessible to students and fulfills NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin's promise to develop "faster, better, and cheaper" methods of exploring space. The STEDI program was initiated and is managed by the Universities Space Research Association.
  • The process began in 1994 when, out of a field of 66 applicants, Boston University was chosen as one of six recipients of $160,000 in Phase I funding from NASA to be used in a four month planning period.
  • In 1995, Boston University was awarded $4.1 million in Phase II funding for construction, launch and operation of the satellite.
  • Phase II funding was awarded on the basis of three principal criteria: probability of mission success, scientific or technological importance, and student involvement.
  • Since the inception of the project, more than sixty undergraduate and graduate students at BU have been involved in the science, theory, design, instrument development, and testing of the satellite.
  • Other collaborators in the TERRIERS include AeroAstro Corp., MIT's Haystack Observatory, the Naval Research Laboratory.

- 30 -

7 April 1999
Center for Space Physics
Prepared by
Networked Information Services
Office of Information Technology
Boston University