BAE Systems reduces microsatellite meteorology sensors

BAE Systems investigated the concept of installing infrared sensors on microsatellites to capture weather data in the troposphere as well as stratosphere in a 6-month, $376,000 analysis conducted in the month of October for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

BAE Systems reduces microsatellite meteorology sensors
BAE Systems reduces microsatellite meteorology sensors

BAE Systems reduces microsatellite meteorology sensors

To offer high-resolution weather information from a network of satellites in the low Earth orbit, BAE Systems is creating miniature spectrometers. The business builds on expertise gained in the production of miniature sensors for weather and temperature tracking applications using the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) tool. BAE Systems investigated the concept of installing infrared sensors on microsatellites to capture weather data in the troposphere as well as stratosphere in a 6-month, $376,000 analysis conducted in the month of October for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A two-instrument suite is being proposed by BAE Systems. The Midwave Infrared Sounding of Temperature as well as Humidity in a Constellation for Clouds, called Mistic Winds, would include every satellite in such a weather constellation to detect air temperature and the water vapor. With such a support from Instrument Incubator Program of NASA and the firm’s internal research and development support, BAE Systems established Mistic Winds. In particular, any or more of the satellites will have a secondary sensor to obtain vertical temperature profiles which are located in the stratosphere, called the Longwave Sounding Spectrometer for both the Temperature and Humidity in the Constellation (LlSTiC).

Lawrence Schaefer, who serves as the director of BAE Systems’ program for sophisticated space systems development, informed SpaceNews, “What we really want to do now is help the nation achieve improved weather forecasts with groundbreaking hyperspectral devices that examine over a thousand different wavelengths to classify the atmosphere.” Mistic Winds weight is about 15 kilograms, unlike AIRS, a 156-kilogram sensor deployed in the year 2002 on the Aqua Earth-observation satellite of NASA Agency.

“We found out that we were able to manufacture the instrument on a mass basis as well as create anything near one-sixtieth of the volume as well as one-tenth of the mass by focusing more on the troposphere after the right wavelengths by using new spectrometer technologies and architecture,” Schaefer stated. “This allows us to offer high-quality sound by having just the low Earth orbital network fifty times closer to the atmosphere than only a satellite in a geostationary orbit.” 

LlSTiC is significantly heavier, weighing approximately 20 kilograms than Mistic Winds. “One instrument will do well on a microsatellite,” Schaefer explained. “Two will be maintained on a bigger, though still thin, microsatellite.” As the NOAA agency is focusing more into Joint Polar Satellite System as well as Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite R series, NOAA agency is awarding a range of research contracts to investigate new devices, satellites, business models as well as mission concepts.