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How to Explore Uranus Using CubeSats & Beamed Laser Power

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
March 12, 2021
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Illustration of mothership and probe subsystems in the SCATTER concept. (Credits: Sigrid Close)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I Award
Funding: up to $125,000
Study Period: 9 months

Exploring Uranus through SCATTER
Sigrid Close
Stanford University
Stanford, Calif.

SCATTER studies the capability for a parent spacecraft to transmit power and remotely manipulate a small probe spacecraft through a laser transmitter, entitled Sustained CubeSat Activity Through Transmitted Electromagnetic Radiation (SCATTER).

This capability enables the mothership to intermittently deploy probes during a long-duration deep space mission to Uranus where the use of only PV and battery power sources would be infeasible. Using these probes allows a single mission to provide enhanced scientific measurements such as magnetic field gradients, leading to a better understanding of the ice giants, which are the least explored planets in our solar system.

2021 Phase I Selections

About NIAC

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program nurtures visionary ideas that could transform future NASA missions with the creation of breakthroughs — radically better or entirely new aerospace concepts — while engaging America’s innovators and entrepreneurs as partners in the journey.

The program seeks innovations from diverse and non-traditional sources and NIAC projects study innovative, technically credible, advanced concepts that could one day “change the possible” in aerospace. If you’re interested in submitting a proposal to NIAC, please see our “Apply to NIAC” link ( for information about the status of our current NASA Research Announcement (NRA). For descriptions of current NIAC projects, please refer to our ”NIAC Studies” link (

To find out more, see or contact us at [email protected].

One response to “How to Explore Uranus Using CubeSats & Beamed Laser Power”

  1. savuporo says:

    Dream sci-tech headline for any 7-year old

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