J5.3 RainCube, A Ka-band Precipitation Radar in a 6U CubeSat

Monday, 8 January 2018: 9:15 AM
615 AB (Hilton) (Austin, Texas)
Shivani S Joshi, JPL, Pasadena, CA; and E. Peral, S. Tanelli, J. Sauder, N. Chahat, D. Price, and S. Statham

RainCube (Radar in a CubeSat) is a technology demonstration mission to enable Ka-band precipitation radar technologies on a low-cost, quick-turnaround platform. As of the abstract submission date, the 6U CubeSat is in the assembly, integration, and test phase leading towards an expected delivery to storage in September 2017. The mission is manifested for an ISS deployment on the ELaNa-23 launch, currently scheduled in the first half of 2018.

Radar instruments have often been regarded as unsuitable for small satellite platforms due to their traditionally large size, weight, and power. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed a novel radar architecture compatible with the 6U form factor. The RainCube mission will validate two key technologies in the space environment – a miniaturized Ka-band precipitation profiling radar that occupies ~3U and a 0.5m Ka-band deployable parabolic antenna stowed within 1.5U. The spacecraft bus is developed by Tyvak Nanosatellite Systems, who is responsible for integration and test of the flight system and mission operations. RainCube is funded through the NASA Science Mission Directorate’s Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Science 2015 In-Space Validation of Earth Science Technologies solicitation with the goal of raising the instrument TRL to 7.

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