Presentation; 1 February 2020
With the advent of increased CubeSat and SmallSat constellation deployments by both Governments and Commercial entities, there is a need to assess the maturity and capability of the relevant sensor technologies and their impact on scientific research. Since 2012 the NASA Earth Science Technology Office has been running a research program focused on technology validation in space, In-Space Validation of Earth Science Technologies (InVEST). This program encourages flying new technologies and new measurement concepts on CubeSat platforms. The basic premise of the program is to validate new technologies before they are implemented on CubeSat constellations or small satellite platforms. Various instrument technologies validated under this program serve as pathfinders for future CubeSat constellation architectures. Some of the successful instruments have produced first ever global measurements such as IceCube which generated the first atmospheric cloud ice map at the 883-GHz band. Similarly, RainCube and TEMPEST-D, active and passive microwave sensors, are producing valuable precipitation and cloud data from near-overlapping observations of weather events such as typhoons and hurricanes.
Recently two CubeSats under the InVEST program, HARP and CIRiS were launched to International Space Station and will be deployed soon. Dr Babu provided a status and overview of instruments and measurement concepts demonstrated on CubeSat platforms being funded by NASA’s Earth Science Technology Office and their contribution in addressing some of the technical challenges and implications for future science missions.