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RAVAN (Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes) is low-cost cubesat mission led by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., to demonstrate technology needed to measure the absolute imbalance in the Earth's radiation budget (ERI) for the first time, giving scientists valuable information to study our climate.

RAVAN will demonstrate how accurate and wide-ranging measurements of Earth's outgoing radiation can be made with a remarkably small instrument. The RAVAN team includes partners at Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, Ma.; L-1 Standards and Technology in New Windsor, Md.; and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

RAVAN will use a small, accurate radiometer, developed at L-1 Standards and Technology and not much larger than a deck of cards, to measure the strength of the Earth's outgoing radiation across the entire spectrum of energy from the ultraviolet to the far infrared. The secret to RAVAN's precise measurements is a "forest" of carbon nanotubes, grown at APL, that serve as the radiometer's light absorber. "The carbon nanotubes are a very deep black across the energy spectrum, which will let the radiometer gather virtually all the light reflected and emitted from the planet.

RAVAN was originally to be a triple (3U) CubeSat based on the Multimission Bus demonstrated in the ORS Tech mission. In April 2015, Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) has instead been awarded a contract to build, test, and operate the satellite, which will be built based on their XB1 triple (3U) CubeSat bus.

It was selected in 2014 by NASA to be launched as part of the ELaNa program. The RAVAN mission is expected to launch in mid 2016.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Earth sciences, technology
Operator: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL)
Contractors: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL); Blue Canyon Technologies (bus)
Configuration: CubeSat (3U)
Propulsion: none
Power: 2 deployable fixed solar arrays, batteries
Lifetime: 6 months
Mass: 5 kg
Orbit: ~ 600 km SSO
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
RAVAN 2016-067B 11.11.2016 Va SLC-3E Atlas-5(401) with WorldView 4, OptiCube 4, Aerocube 8C, Aerocube 8D, Prometheus 2.1, Prometheus 2.3, CELTEE 1