PC/CIC: A Tandem 3U CubeSat Mission for Global Cloud Ice Mass Measurement

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 11:44 AM
Albin John Gasiewski1, Brian T Sanders2, David W Gallaher3, Lavanya Periasamy2, Glenda Alvarenga2, Theodore A Scambos4, Ron Weaver5, K Franklin Evans2, Andrew Heymsfield6, Peter Pilewskie2 and Stefan A Buehler7, (1)Univ of Colorado, Boulder, CO, United States, (2)University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States, (3)University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States, (4)Univ Colorado, Boulder, CO, United States, (5)National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, CO, United States, (6)National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, United States, (7)University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
PolarCube and CloudIceCube (PC/CIC) are twin tandem 3U CubeSat satellites based on a common and existing bus design (ALL-STAR) and a common Earth-imaging passive microwave instrument payload architecture with suborbital aircraft flight heritage. These instrument payloads are being miniaturized for an orbital opportunity to provide atmospheric temperature profile measurements, cloud ice mass statistics, sea ice/ice-free ocean detection and mapping, and ice sheet surface snow properties that complement and extend existing passive microwave measurements from space. Collectively, these instruments, currently being prototyped, will comprise the first multi-frequency millimeter-wave and submillimeter-wave (MMW/SMMW) passive microwave imaging sensors flown in space. The objective is to map the brightness temperature spectra of several critical cryospheric and tropospheric Earth systems at high spatial resolution (~18.5 km) and high radiometric precision (~0.3-2.0K) at three key bands (118.7503, 325.153-340, and 670 GHz) over the entire globe during a nominal one year mission beginning in 2016. We discuss the application of the integrated PC/CIC data sets to climatological cloud modeling, determination of the vertical temperature and water vapor structure of polar regions, polar climate and atmosphere change studies, sea ice mapping, and ice sheet snow accumulation. Importantly, global cloud ice mass and mean particle size mapping will be supported at ~2o spatial scale using a new and independent passive MMW/SMMW technique as a means to constrain general circulation model cloud statistics. The PC/CIC mission will provide an important snapshot of global cloud ice mass statistics in the current era years prior to operational passive microwave cloud ice measurement. It will also demonstrate the use of compact, multi-frequency, scanning microwave radiometers that are prototypes of a new low-cost class of spaceborne microwave weather and climate sensors.