Adventures In Deep Space

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Terminology, Jargon and Acronyms

August 24, 2021 — Thomas Leavitt

Updated as I read and research.

Jargon and Acronyms

  • MCSB - Modular Common Spacecraft Bus, NASA Ames project for cost reducing interplanetary missions, essentially unused
  • MSV - Modular Space Vehicle bus, military implementation of MCSB concept, not intended for use beyond Earth orbit
  • NASA - American Space Agency
  • JAXA - Japan Space Agency
  • ISRO - Indian Space Research Organization (space agency)
  • ESA - European Space Agency
  • LEO/GEO - Low Earth Orbit / Geosyncrous Earth Orbit

Terminology and Informal Definitions

  • remote-sensing - using instruments on satellites to gather information about a subject of interest (usually, the Earth)
  • space mission architecture - all the pieces put together - spacecraft, orbits, launch vehicles, ground systems, etc.
  • payload - what fulfills the mission, the scientific instruments, essentially
  • bus - the common infrastructure enabling the payload to function
  • operations concept - how the pieces fit together
  • mission operations systems - ground and space based infrastructure
  • flight control team - people running the operation
  • mission management and operations - everything needed from start to finish
  • flight / operations / mission director - manages flight control inputs, evaluates data, and makes decisions
  • swath width - satellite's coverage of the surface area of object being studied
  • parking orbit, transfer orbit, orbit - temporary; takes you from initial to final; path traveled around object
  • Lagrange Point (L1/L2/L3/L4/L5) - positions in space where the gravitational forces of a two body system like the Sun and the Earth produce enhanced regions of attraction and repulsion. These can be used by spacecraft as "parking spots" in space to remain in a fixed position with minimal fuel consumtion. (NASA Definition); the shorthand may refer to any set of these relative to two bodies, not just Earth/Sun (for instance, Jupiter's collection of Trojan asteroids); EML1-5 (Earth Moon Lagrange) and SEL1-5 (Sun Earth Lagrange);
  • mass driver - aka "electromagnetic catapult"; efficient way to propel objects, particularly useful in a low gravity / no atmosphere context like the Moon
  • mass catcher - designed to "catch" items in space launched by a mass driver
  • rotary pellet launcher (RPL) - propulsion system, a rapidly-rotating tube, ejecting pellets of rock at high velocity, proposed by Gerard O'Neill
  • ablation propulsion - uses lasers or electron beams

Tags: jargon, acronyms, terminology