TROPICS (Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats) is a constellation of seven identical 3U CubeSats provide sounding with 30-minute median revisit rate.
Each TROPICS CubeSat, based on the MicroMAS and MicroMAS 2a, 2b satellites, is a dual-spinning 3U CubeSat equipped with a 12-channel passive microwave spectrometer providing imagery near 90 and 206 GHz, temperature sounding near 118 GHz, and moisture sounding near 183 GHz. Each CubeSat comprises a 2U spacecraft bus with ADCS, avionics, power, and communications, and a 1U spinning radiometer payload with highly integrated, compact microwave receiver electronics. Initially, a constellation of twelve satellites was planned, but it has been reduced to seven.
The science objectives of the mission are:
This observing system offers an unprecedented combination of horizontal and temporal resolution to measure environmental and inner-core conditions for tropical cyclones (TCs) on a nearly global scale and is a profound leap forward in the temporal resolution of several key parameters needed for detailed study of high-impact meteorological events (TCs being the primary emphasis in this proposal). TROPICS will demonstrate that a constellation approach to earth Science can provide improved resolution, configurable coverage (tropics, near global, or global), flexibility, reliability, and launch access at extremely low cost, thereby serving as a model for future missions.
The TROPICS constellation will be formulated with four CubeSats in each of three orbital planes with the following launch parameters: equally spaced RAAN (±30° tolerance), 600 km altitude (550±50 km tolerance), 30° inclination (±3° tolerance). These mission parameters will meet science requirements should the threshold number of CubeSats (eight) be implemented. Analyses have shown orbit lifetime of 9 years, well over the expected mission lifetime of one year and well in advance of the 25-year de-orbit requirement. This configuration yields 30-minute median revisit rates with average spatial resolution better than precipitation and all-weather temperature and humidity (PATH) requirements, all from a low-cost, low-risk CubeSat constellation platform.
Blue Canyon Technologies received a contract to build seven identical XACT-based 3U-class CubeSats. One will be launched as a pathfinder for checkout and optimization of all mission elements prior to the primary six satellite constellation.
|Type / Application:||Earth observation, technology|
|Operator:||Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Space Systems Laboratory (MIT SSL)|
|Contractors:||Blue Canyon Technologies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Space Systems Laboratory (MIT SSL)|
|Power:||Deployable solar array, batteries|
|Lifetime:||1 year (planned)|
|Orbit:||600 km × 600 km, 30°|
|TROPICS 1||-||2022||Kw||Astra Rocket-3||with TROPICS 2, TROPICS 3, TROPICS 4, TROPICS 5, TROPICS 6|
|TROPICS 2||-||2022||Kw||Astra Rocket-3||with TROPICS 1, TROPICS 3, TROPICS 4, TROPICS 5, TROPICS 6|
|TROPICS 3||-||2022||Kw||Astra Rocket-3||with TROPICS 1, TROPICS 2, TROPICS 4, TROPICS 5, TROPICS 6|
|TROPICS 4||-||2022||Kw||Astra Rocket-3||with TROPICS 1, TROPICS 2, TROPICS 3, TROPICS 5, TROPICS 6|
|TROPICS 5||-||2022||Kw||Astra Rocket-3||with TROPICS 1, TROPICS 2, TROPICS 3, TROPICS 4, TROPICS 6|
|TROPICS 6||-||2022||Kw||Astra Rocket-3||with TROPICS 1, TROPICS 2, TROPICS 3, TROPICS 4, TROPICS 5|
|TROPICS Pathfinder||-||2021||CC||Falcon-9 v1.2 (Block 5)||with (SpaceX Transporter-2)|