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Proceedings Paper

All-weather microwave atmospheric sensing using CubeSats and constellations
Author(s): W. J. Blackwell
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Paper Abstract

Microwave instrumentation is particularly well suited for implementation on a very small satellite, as the sensor requirements for power, pointing, and spatial resolution (aperture size) can in some cases be accommodated by a nanosatellite platform. The Microsized Microwave Atmospheric Satellite Version 2a (MicroMAS-2a), launched on January 11, 2018 and has demonstrated temperature sounding using channels near 118 GHz and humidity sounding using channels near 183 GHz. A second MicroMAS-2 flight unit (MicroMAS-2b) will be launched in late 2018 as part of ELANA-XX. The Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) mission was selected by NASA in 2016 as part of the Earth Venture–Instrument (EVI-3) program. The overarching goal for TROPICS is to provide nearly all-weather observations of 3-D temperature and humidity, as well as cloud ice and precipitation horizontal structure, at high temporal resolution to conduct high-value science investigations of tropical cyclones. TROPICS will provide rapid-refresh microwave measurements (median refresh rate of approximately 40 minutes for the baseline mission) over the tropics that can be used to observe the thermodynamics of the troposphere and precipitation structure for storm systems at the mesoscale and synoptic scale over the entire storm lifecycle. TROPICS comprises a constellation of six CubeSats in three low-Earth orbital planes. Each CubeSat will host a high performance radiometer to provide temperature profiles using seven channels near the 118.75 GHz oxygen absorption line, water vapor profiles using three channels near the 183 GHz water vapor absorption line, imagery in a single channel near 90 GHz for precipitation measurements (when combined with higher resolution water vapor channels), and a single channel at 206 GHz that is more sensitive to precipitation-sized ice particles. TROPICS flight hardware development is on track for a 2019 delivery.

Paper Details

Date Published: 24 October 2018
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 10776, Remote Sensing of the Atmosphere, Clouds, and Precipitation VII, 107760J (24 October 2018); doi: 10.1117/12.2324098
Show Author Affiliations
W. J. Blackwell, MIT Lincoln Lab. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10776:
Remote Sensing of the Atmosphere, Clouds, and Precipitation VII
Eastwood Im; Song Yang, Editor(s)

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