The Radiometer Atmospheric Cubesat Experiment

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 10:20 AM
Boon Lim1, Maxwell Bryk1, Jessica Clark1, Kenneth Donahue1, Raymond Ellyin1, Sidharth Misra1, Andrew Romero-Wolf1, Shannon Statham1, Joel Steinkraus1, E. Glenn Lightsey2, Andrew Fear2, Parker Francis2, Henri Kjellberg2 and Karl McDonald2, (1)Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States, (2)University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, United States
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has been developing the Radiometer Atmospheric CubeSat Experiment (RACE) since 2012, which consists of a water vapor radiometer integrated on a 3U CubeSat platform. RACE will measure 2 channels of the 183 GHz water vapor line, and will be used to validate new low noise amplifier (LNA) technology and a novel amplifier based internal calibration subsystem. The 3U spacecraft is provided by the University of Texas at Austin’s Satellite Design Laboratory. RACE will advance the technology readiness level (TRL) of the 183 GHz receiver subsystem from TRL 4 to TRL 6 and a CubeSat 183 GHz radiometer system from TRL 4 to TRL 7. Measurements at 183 GHz are used to retrieve integrated products and vertical profiles of water vapor. Current full scale satellite missions that can utilize the technology include AMSU, ATMS, SSMIS and Megha-Tropiques.

The LNAs are designed at JPL, based on a 35 nm indium phosphide (InP) high-electron-mobility transistors (HEMT) technology developed by Northrop Grumman. The resulting single chip LNAs require only 25 mW of power. Current pre-launch instrument performance specifications include an RF gain of over 30 dB and a room noise figure of < 9.5 dB. The noise figure is dominated by the insertion loss of the Dicke switch which at these frequencies are > 5dB. If a coupler based calibration system is shown to be sufficient, future receiver systems will have noise figures < 4 dB. The gain and noise figure variation over temperature is approximately 0.55 dB/K. The NEDT of the system is < 1K, and on orbit performance is expected to improve due to the thermal environment. The current system is configured for direct detection to reduce power consumption by eliminating the need for a local oscillator.

A 2012 NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) selection, RACE is manifested for launch on the Orbital 3 (Orb-3) mission scheduled for October 2014. RACE will be deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) by NanoRacks.