Nanosatellites for Earth environmental monitoring: the MicroMAS project
July 23, 2012
IGARSS 2012, Int. Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symp., 22-27 July 2012, pp. 206-9.
The Micro-sized Microwave Atmospheric Satellite (MicroMAS) is a 3U cubesat (34x10x10 cm, 4.5 kg) hosting a passive microwave spectrometer operating near the 118.75-GHz oxygen absorption line. The focus of the first MicroMAS mission (hereafter, MicroMAS-1) is to observe convective thunderstorms, tropical cyclones, and hurricanes from a near-equatorial orbit at approximately 500-km altitude. A MicroMAS flight unit is currently being developed in anticipation of a 2014 launch. A parabolic reflector is mechanically rotated as the spacecraft orbits the earth, thus directing a cross-track scanned beam with FWHM beamwidth of 2.4-degrees, yielding an approximately 20-km diameter footprint at nadir incidence from a nominal altitude of 500 km. Radiometric calibration is carried out using observations of cold space, the earth?s limb, and an internal noise diode that is weakly coupled through the RF front-end electronics. A key technology feature is the development of an ultra-compact intermediate frequency processor module for channelization, detection, and A-to-D conversion. The antenna system and RF front-end electronics are highly integrated and miniaturized. A MicroMAS-2 mission is currently being planned using a multiband spectrometer operating near 118 and 183 GHz in a sunsynchronous orbit of approximately 800-km altitude. A HyMAS- 1 (Hyperspectral Microwave Atmospheric Satellite) mission with approximately 50 channels near 118 and 183 GHz is also being planned. In this paper, the mission concept of operations will be discussed, the radiometer payload will be described, and the spacecraft subsystems (avionics, power, communications, attitude determination and control, and mechanical structures) will be summarized.