Microwave Atmospheric Sounder on CubeSat

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Sharmila Padmanabhan1, Shannon E Brown2, Pekka Kangaslahti1, Richard Cofield1, Damon Russell1, Robert Alan Stachnik3, Hui Su2, Longtao Wu4, Simone Tanelli5 and Noppasin Niamsuwan5, (1)Jet Propulsion Lab, Pasadena, CA, United States, (2)NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States, (3)JPL, Pasadena, CA, United States, (4)Jet Propulsion Lab-MLS, Pasadena, CA, United States, (5)Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States
To accurately predict how the distribution of extreme events may change in the future we need to understand the mechanisms that influence such events in our current climate. Our current observing system is not well-suited for observing extreme events globally due to the sparse sampling and in-homogeneity of ground-based in-situ observations and the infrequent revisit time of satellite observations. Observations of weather extremes, such as extreme precipitation events, temperature extremes, tropical and extra-tropical cyclones among others, with temporal resolution on the order of minutes and spatial resolution on the order of few kms (<10 kms), are required for improved forecasting of extreme weather events. We envision a suite of low-cost passive microwave sounding and imaging sensors on CubeSats that would work in concert with traditional flagship observational systems, such as those manifested on large environmental satellites (i.e. JPSS,WSF,GCOM-W), to monitor weather extremes.

A 118/183 GHz sensor would enable observations of temperature and precipitation extremes over land and ocean as well as tropical and extra-tropical cyclones. This proposed project would enable low cost, compact radiometer instrumentation at 118 and 183 GHz that would fit in a 6U Cubesat with the objective of mass-producing this design to enable a suite of small satellites to image the key geophysical parameters needed to improve prediction of extreme weather events. We take advantage of past and current technology developments at JPL viz. HAMSR (High Altitude Microwave Scanning Radiometer), Advanced Component Technology (ACT’08) to enable low-mass, low-power high frequency airborne radiometers.

In this paper, we will describe the design and implementation of the 118 GHz temperature sounder and 183 GHz humidity sounder on the 6U CubeSat. In addition, a summary of radiometer calibration and retrieval techniques of temperature and humidity will be discussed. The successful demonstration of this instrument on the 6U CubeSat would pave the way for the development of a constellation which could sample tropospheric temperature and humidity with fine temporal and spatial resolution.