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RACE [UT-Austin]

The RACE (Radiometer Atmospheric CubeSat Experiment), formerly known as CHARM (CubeSat Hydrometric Atmospheric Radiometer Mission) is a 3U CubeSat to perform spaceborne validation of a 183 GHz radiometer, utilizing an indium phosphide low noise amplifier front-end, to measure water vapor emission from the Earth’s atmosphere.

The University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin) is collaborating with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to build the spacecraft for the RACE mission. JPL is managing the mission, and will deliver the radiometer payload to UT-Austin.

The mission objectives are:

  • To advance the technology of the 35 nm indium phosphide (InP) receiver subsystem of the radiometer instrument.
  • To enhance the hands-on training for the RACE project team members within the Phaeton Program platform.
  • To measure both the liquid water path (LWP) and precipitable water vapor (PWV) relevant to the water cycle and Earth energy budget.
  • To reduce the risk for future users of the technology explored through RACE.
  • To advance the technology of the water vapor radiometer CubeSat system.
  • To explore possibilities for smaller missions with distributed risks.

The spin-stabilzed cubesat rotates along its longitudinal axis, allowing the radiometer to scan the earth. The instrument, CHARM, is a 183 GHz radiometer and ideal for the nanosatellite platform which has stringent mass, power and volume requirements. The objective is to measure microwave radiation at the 183 GHz water vapor line, which is relevant to the water cycle and Earth energy budget. Key to the instrument development is a low noise amplifier front end that utilizes the 35 nm Indium Phosphide High Electron Mobility Transfer process.

RACE was manifested for launch in October 2014 through NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative program (ELaNa-8). It was launched onboard of the Cygnus CRS-3 cargo vehicle towards the International Space Station to be deployed from the Japanese airlock. The launch failed shortly after lift off.

The radiometer technology developed for RACE formed the base for the TEMPEST-D mission.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Technology
Operator: University of Texas at Austin, JPL
Contractors: University of Texas at Austin, JPL
Equipment: CHARM
Configuration: CubeSat (3U)
Propulsion: None
Power: Solar cells, batteries
Mass: 5 kg
Orbit: 400 km × 400 km, 51.6° (typical) (planned)
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
RACE (ex CHARM) 2014-F02 28.10.2014 WI LC-0A F Antares-130 with Cygnus CRS-3, Flock-1d 1, ..., 26, Arkyd 3, GOMX 2


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