The University of Leicester's CubeSat project, named PLUME (Picosatellite of Leicester University Micrometeoroid Experiment), started in January 2007 and aims to place an active nano-meteoroid dust detector into orbit by mid-2009. This detector will be capable of characterising the near Earth dust environment an order of magnitude better than any previously flown active detector, allowing significant science to be accomplished.
The project team is comprised of approximately 70 undergraduates who both run and manage the project. The mission has the full support of the University of Leicester's Space Research Centre and of Magna Parva. The team are also under consideration for financial support from the East Midlands Space Academy.
Provided the mission schedule is maintained the satellite is likely to be the first English CubeSat in orbit.
The nanometeoriod detector on PLUME will allow us to analyse dust particles that are smaller than ever before. Our satellite will be looking at the near-Earth environment so the results will be very relevant and of interest to theoreticians as well as experimentalists.