#OTD, This cool pic from the archives shows NASA’s original ICESat satellite being launched on this date in 2003 aboard our Delta II rocket. The final Delta II launched ICESat-2 last September to continue mapping the changes in Earth’s environment. Aerial photo by United States Air Force.

#OTD, This cool pic from the archives shows NASA’s original ICESat satellite being launched on this date in 2003 aboard our Delta II rocket. The final Delta II launched ICESat-2 last September to continue mapping the changes in Earth’s environment. Aerial photo by United States Air Force.

CHIPSwill study the gas and dust in space, which are believed to be the basic building blocks of stars and planets. The CHIPSsatellite, the first NASA University-Class Explorer (UNEX) mission, weighs 131 pounds (60 kilograms) and is the size of a large suitcase. It will orbit above the Earth at about 350 miles (590 kilometers) altitude and is expected to operate for one year.

CHIPSis sponsored by the Office of Space Science, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. The project is managed at the Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va., and Goddard through the NASA Explorers Program. The CHIPSinstrument was built at the Space Science Laboratory of the University of California, Berkeley, and SpaceDev, Inc. of Poway, Calif., built the spacecraft bus. For detailed information about CHIPSand its mission, go to: http://chips.ssl.berkeley.edu