Four spherical STARSHINE Aluminum nano-satellites, covered by laser retroreflectors and by up to 1500 small mirrors that were ground and polished by thousands of students all over the world, have been built by a voluntary consortium of educational institutions, private companies, government laboratories and individuals. Three of these satellites were launched into orbit by NASA during the peak of Solar Cycle 23 in the 1999 to 2001 time period. Two of them were deployed into orbit from Space Shuttle orbiters launched from the Kennedy Space Center, and one was deployed from an Athena expendable launch vehicle launched from Kodiak, Alaska. A fourth satellite is sitting in storage, awaiting launch during Solar Maximum 24 a few years from now. These satellites were tracked by radars of the U.S. Space Command, by lasers in the International Laser Ranging Network, and by the unaided eyes of students at sites all over the world. Their observations were reported to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, where orbital dynamicists and solar-terrestrial physicists have used them to determine the density of the upper atmosphere in the altitude range of 300–500 km and to improve their computational codes for predicting the future orbital positions of satellites.

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