J10.4 What Can IceCube 883-GHz Radiometer Offer for Future Satellite Cloud Observations?

Monday, 8 January 2018: 11:15 AM
615 AB (Hilton) (Austin, Texas)
Dong L. Wu, NASA GSFC, Greenbelt, MD

Cloud ice plays important roles in Earth’s energy budget and cloud-precipitation processes. Knowledge of global cloud ice and its properties is critical for understanding and quantifying its roles in Earth’s atmospheric system. It remains a great challenge to measure these variables accurately from space. Submillimeter (submm) wave remote sensing has capability of penetrating clouds and measuring ice mass and microphysical properties. In particular, the 883-GHz frequency is a highest spectral window in microwave frequencies that can be used to fill a sensitivity gap between thermal infrared (IR) and mm-wave sensors in current spaceborne cloud ice observations.

IceCube is a cubesat spaceflight demonstration of 883-GHz cloud radiometer technology. Its primary objective is to raise the technology readiness level (TRL) of 883-GHz cloud radiometer for future Earth science missions. By flying a commercial receiver on a 3U cubesat, IceCube is able to achieve fast-track maturation of space technology, by completing its development, integration and testing in 2.5 years. IceCube was successfully delivered to ISS in April 2017 and jettisoned from the International Space Station (ISS) in May 2017. The IceCube cloud-ice radiometer (ICIR) has been acquiring data since the jettison on a daytime-only operation. IceCube adopted a simple design without payload mechanism. It makes maximum utilization of solar power by spinning the spacecraft continuously about the Sun vector at a rate of 1.2° per second. As a result, the ICIR is operated under the limited resources (8.6 W without heater) and largely-varying (18°C-28°C) thermal environments. The spinning cubesat also allows ICIR to have periodical views between the Earth (atmosphere and clouds) and cold space (calibration), from which the first 883-GHz cloud map is obtained. The 883-GHz cloud radiance, sensitive to ice particle scattering, is proportional to cloud ice amount above ~10 km. The ICIR cloud map acquired during June 20-July 2, 2017 shows a clear distribution of the inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ), as well as the classic Gill-model pattern over the Western Pacific and Indian monsoon regions. Like the ISS, the coverage of ICIR observations is limited to low-to-mid latitudes. More science results and IceCube experiments with the cubesat operation will be discussed.

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