The STARSHINE Demonstrator — Today's Space History Note

Ten years ago today — June 5, 1999 — the STARSHINE passive reflector was released from Space Shuttle Discovery during mission STS-96 by Canadian astronaut Julie Payette. STARSHINE — a.k.a. Student Tracked Atmospheric Research Satellite Heuristic International Networking Experiment* — was sponsored by the Naval Research Laboratory and consisted of a hollow, 48-cm (19-inch) diameter sphere, covered with 878 mirrors.

(Starshine-1 at the Naval Research Laboratory. NRL photo by Michael A. Savell, from the Starshine project web site.)

Students from 660 schools in 18 countries, including some nations we don’t associate with spacefaring such as Zimbabwe and Pakistan, had polished the mirrors. An estimated 25,000 high school students around the world tracked the reflector during the demonstration and reported their observations via the Internet.

Pretty nifty, I think.

*According to this NASA page.

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