Nasa will launch small research satellites for several universities on its Glory mission, under its educational launch nanosatellite (ELaNA) mission.

The cubesats will come from the Montana State University, the University of Colorado and Kentucky Space – a consortium of state universities.

A University of Florida satellite will also fly as an alternate in case one of the three primary spacecraft cannot fly.

The cubesats, a class of small research spacecraft called picosatellites will weigh a maximum of 2.2lb and measure 4in, will be placed in orbit by Nasa’s poly-picosatellite orbital deployer (POPD).

Explorer 1 Prime satellite for Montana State will measure the intensity and variability of the electrons in the Van Allen belts, while Colarado’s Hermes will test high data-rate communication system in-orbit to allow the downlink of large quantities of data.

KySat-1, the Kentucky cubesat, will support a scientific outreach programme intended for Kentucky students from kindergarten to 12th grade.

The satellites will ride piggyback along with Nasa’s Glory spacecraft atop a Taurus rocket.

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The Glory spacecraft is a low Earth orbit scientific research craft that will collect climate data on properties of aerosols and black carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere and solar irradiance and its effects on Earth’s climate.

Nasa plans to launch the spacecraft with the cubesats in late November 2010.