(Revised January 15, 2002)


Welcome to Project Starshine, a cooperative, international volunteer student project for measuring variations in density of the earth's upper atmosphere during solar storms. The way we do that is by measuring the orbital decay rates of a series of mirror-covered, optically reflective satellites. You'll be grinding and polishing a mirror for Starshine 4, the latest in a series of our student satellites to be deployed into space during an eleven-year sunspot cycle. Starshine 4 will look very much like this picture of Starshine 1, which started our series off in 1999. NASA will launch Starshine 4 from a Space Shuttle

Image of a Starshine satellite being built for us in January of 2003. It will stay in orbit for about 8 months, before being dragged down into the atmosphere's denser regions and burning up. You will be able to help us perform this important space experiment in two ways. First of all, you will be grinding and polishing one of the 1000 student mirrors that will be mounted on the outer surface of this satellite to make it optically reflective. Then, after the satellite has been launched, you can help us measure its orbit. You'll be able to do that by observing sunlight flashes
from its mirrors, as it passes across the starry sky before sunrise and after sunset. Your role in grinding and polishing a Starshine mirror is vital to making the satellite visible. These aluminum mirrors are easy to grind to a very flat shape and to polish to a beautiful finish; however, they are also extremely easy to scratch, if you do not keep everything absolutely clean. So, please follow these instructions as carefully as you possibly can. We're depending on you.

You can view large-scale images of the small photographs that you're now looking at by clicking on each thumbnail to get a full screen version of that image. As the Starshine 4 scheduled launch date gets closer and closer, keep revisiting the Project Starshine home page at http://www.azinet.com/starshine. You can keep up with important program announcements, such as possible schedule changes, in the Updates section. You'll be able to learn more about the overall project under the heading "Project Description". You'll also find out how to track Starshines 2 and 3, that are in orbit now, and Starshine 4, after it is launched, under the heading "A Beginner's Guide on How to Track Starshine."

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