The Doves are a series of microsatellites designed to provide rapid whole-Earth satellite images, and to look good while doing it. Astronauts Alex Gerst and Reid Wiseman ejected two Dove satellites from the station on Tuesday to join the flock already in orbit.
Releasing the Dove satellites was yet another team project between buddy-movie-inspiration-astronauts Alex Gerst and Reid Wiseman on August 19th. Gerst depressurized the airlock while Wiseman documented the station spitting satellites into space. The result was yet another surreal space vine, a timelapse more reminiscent of firing photon torpedos in an episode of Star Trek than real-life science.
Astronaut Alex Gerst depressurizes the JAXA airlock in preparation for releasing the DOVES cubesats. Image credit: NASA/Reid Wiseman
The first Dove satellites were released in orbit in January of this year, all first-generation microsatellites developed by Planet Labs. Although it's impossible to see from this vantage point, the satellites are laser-etched with custom artwork as part of an effort to meld art and science in a manner that can survive the harsh environment.
According to a more extensive caption by NASA, these satellites were part of the 3,300 pounds of science and supplies brought to the station by the Cygnus cargo vehicle in July (which has since departed the station for a fiery death). By Monday, 16 out of 28 of the latest series of NanoRacks CubeSat will be deployed from the station.