JPL is developing Earth-observing CubeSat instruments with equal or higher sensitivity than traditional remote sensing instruments.
CubeSats have made their biggest impact in low-Earth-orbit, which makes them a perfect candidate for missions that can make critical observations about our own planet. JPL’s decades-long experience with Earth missions large and small is a natural fit for CubeSats.
Miniaturization - The many interplanetary missions JPL has developed and launched over the years have had one thing in common -- extremely tight parameters on weight, volume, and power used. Using this expertise, JPL has engineered numerous instruments into CubeSat-friendly form factors: Near-IR spectrometers that use a Dyson telescope, micro-GPS, compact sub-mm radiometers, short wavelength radars, cameras, magnetometers, and radio science equipment.
Despite their small size, these new instrument designs give up nothing in the way of performance – in many cases, they are even more capable than previous generations.
Earth Experience - JPL has long been a leader in designing Earth science mission that deliver maximum scientific impact and fulfill the needs of the community. JPL’s experience in working with Earth scientists of all disciplines is paving the way for the development of missions that provide the greatest amount return while remaining reasonable in cost.