Three MIT / Lincoln Laboratory nanosatellite advanced technology missions flying microwave radiometers for high-resolution atmospheric sensing are in varying stages of development. 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 be accommodated by a nanosatellite platform. The first upcoming mission, the Microsized Microwave Atmospheric Satellite Version 2 (MicroMAS-2), will demonstrate temperature sounding in eight channels near 118 GHz, humidity sounding in three channels near 183 GHz, and cloud ice measurements in a single channel near 206 GHz. Two MicroMAS-2 3U flight units are in development, with the first to launch in early 2017. The Microwave Radiometer Technology Acceleration (MiRaTA) CubeSat will demonstrate multi-band atmospheric sounding and co-located GPS radio occultation for cross calibration. MiRaTA will launch as a secondary payload on the JPSS-1 mission as part of ELaNa-XIV. MiRaTA is designed for a one-year mission life and will fly a tri-band sounder (60, 183, and 206 GHz) and a GPS radio occultation (GPS-RO) sensor comprising a modified COTS receiver and antenna patch array.
Building upon this work, the Earth Observing Nanosatellite-Microwave (EON-MW) mission is being formulated by MIT Lincoln Laboratory for NOAA as part of the Polar Follow-On (PFO) Program’s 2017 budget request. PFO plans to extend JPSS for two more missions and provides a means to mitigate the risk of a gap in continuity of weather observations. The PFO request aims to achieve robustness in the polar satellite system to ensure continuity of NOAA’s polar-orbiting weather observations. The baseline EON-MW design accommodates a scanning 22-channel, high-resolution microwave spectrometer on a 12U CubeSat platform to provide data continuity with the existing AMSU and ATMS microwave sounding systems. EON-MW will nominally be launched into a sun-synchronous orbit for a two to three year mitigation mission in 2020 that will also demonstrate advanced miniaturized microwave sounder technology that expands on the capabilities developed for MicroMAS-2 and MiRaTA.
Key EON-MW planned features include a pair of compact single-reflector radiometers that permit the entire microwave sounding payload to be developed with a total mass of approximately 4 kg while maximizing antenna aperture for optimal spatial resolution. The spacecraft bus is approximately 16 kg, and the entire satellite (prior to solar array deployment) measures approximately 22x22x34 cm. Communications to ground are planned with a space-qualified X-band transceiver and a ground station to be nominally located at a high latitude. Average power consumption of the satellite is approximately 50 W. This presentation will provide an overview of the EON-MW mission, discuss key satellite and payload subsystems, describe risk reduction and mission planning, and present key attributes of the ground and data segments.