The RAVAN CubeSat mission: Progress toward a new measurement of Earth outgoing radiation

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 10:56 AM
William H. Swartz1, Lars P Dyrud2, Steven R Lorentz3, Dong Liang Wu4, Warren J Wiscombe4, Stergios Papadakis1, Philip M. Huang1, Allan Smith3 and David Deglau1, (1)Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Space Exploration, Laurel, MD, United States, (2)Draper Laboratory, Cambridge, MA, United States, (3)L-1 Standards and Technology, New Windsor, MD, United States, (4)NASA/Goddard Space Flight Cent, Greenbelt, MD, United States
The Earth radiation imbalance (ERI) is the single most important quantity for predicting the course of climate change over the next century. The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat mission, funded by NASA’s Earth Science Technology Office, will demonstrate an affordable, accurate radiometer that directly measures Earth-leaving fluxes of total and solar-reflected radiation. The objective of RAVAN is to demonstrate that a compact spaceborne radiometer that is absolutely accurate to NIST-traceable standards can be built for low cost. The key technologies that enable a radiometer with all these attributes are: a vertically aligned carbon nanotube (VACNT) absorber and a gallium fixed-point blackbody as a built-in calibration source. VACNTs are exceedingly black and spectrally flat, making them ideal radiometer absorbers. We present results from the fabrication and calibration of the RAVAN radiometer and plans for CubeSat hosting and launch. RAVAN will help enable the development of a constellation Earth radiation budget mission that can provide the measurements needed for superior predictions of future climate change.