Mission Information


The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has implemented the Radiometer Atmospheric CubeSat Experiment (RACE) as an opportunity for early career hires to develop their technical, leadership, and flight project skills through the Phaeton Program.

The primary scientific expedition of RACE is to measure the liquid water path and precipitable water vapor that is pertinent to the water cycle and Earth energy budget. The RACE payload is a microwave radiometer that primarily observes the 183 GHz water vapor line.

RACE will advance the technology readiness level (TRL) of the receiver subsystem from TRL 4 to TRL 6 and the CubeSat radiometer system from TRL 4 to TRL 7. The radiometer is designed to fit within a 1.5 U volume (10x10x15 cm3) such that any CubeSat platform with a larger volume (2U, 3U, or 6U) can be used. CubeSats are usually secondary payloads to missions but are considerably cheaper to launch, which allows for technology risk reduction and fulfills NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI). A radiometer within the CubeSat platform has the potential to revolutionize systems by moving from the traditional large scale missions (which often have significant technical risks and costs) to distributed smaller missions.

RACE will assist in developing and demonstrating critical technologies that will improve NASA's exploration, science, and discovery mission objectives (NASA Science Mission Directorate).


  • 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 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.

RACE MIssion Operations Concept


Water vapor is important on a global scale as it helps us understand the water cycle, which is turn is a crucial component of the Earth's energy balancing system. Understanding and monitoring of water vapor will help in the understanding of both weather and climate processes (both near and long term impacts). Specifically, 183 GHz is useful as a water vapor line as we are able to profile different layers of the atmosphere with multiple channels, this allow us to investigate the flow between regions, both vertically and horizontally. The higher frequency also allows for smaller components, especially with regards to the antenna aperture which affords smaller footprints/pixels on the ground, which is crucial as water vapor features tend to vary on small spatial scales. The technology proposed is cutting edge which will improve the performance of future instruments developed. Further, utilizing CubeSats allows for cheaper missions, which is increasingly important with limited science budgets.



The key to the instrument development is the low noise amplifier (LNA) in the receiver. The LNA utilizes the 35 nm Indium Phosphide (InP) High Electron Mobility Transistors (HEMT) process developed by Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems (NGAS). JPL is a leader in developing low power and low noise figure 183 GHz receivers stemming from substantial NASA Earth Science Technology (ESTO) investments.

RACE Radiometer Payload


CubeSats cube-shaped nanosatellites built on 10x10x10 cm units, termed 1U. RACE will be a 3U CubeSat, that is 30x10x10 cm. The concept of CubeSats originated in academia to provide a means for university students to perform space science and exploration at low cost. After numerous successful launches and demonstrations of CubeSats, interest in these low risk, low cost, and quick turnaround missions has increased at JPL and NASA.

The Texas Spacecraft Laboratory (TSL) at the University of Texas at Austin is designing, building, and testing and the CubeSat for the RACE mission. The RACE radiometer is designed to fit within a 1.5 U volume (10cm x 10cm x 15cm). TSL was the winner of the University Nanosatellite Program 7 in the CubeSat class.

RACE Spacecraft
RACE Spacecraft


NASA CLSI Selections

Texas Spacecraft Laboratory (TSL) at the University of Texas at Austin


Alexander Kadesch
Project Manager
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Alexander Kadesch is the project manager for the Radiometer Atmospheric CubeSat Experiment (RACE) and is responsible and accountable for all aspects of mission success. Mr. Kadesch received his B.S. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and his M.E. in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Systems Engineering; both from Cornell University. He joined JPL in ___ as an Early Career Hire (ECH) within the Phaeton Program. Prior to RACE, Mr. Kadesch has worked on the SMAP Model-Based-System-Engineering Pilot Project. In his free time, Alex captains the Los Angeles Men's Ultimate Frisbee team. He also enjoys rock climbing and participating in the Olympic Triathlon.

Jessica Clark
Project Systems Engineer
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Jessica Clark is the Project System Engineer (PSE) for the Radiometer Atmospheric CubeSat Experiment (RACE) and is responsible for ensuring that the technical design will meet the project objectives while assuring the successful interface with all external systems. She is responsible in overseeing the technical design of the radiometer interfaces. Mrs. Clark received her B.S. and M.E. degrees in Aerospace Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She joined JPL full-time (after various summer internships) in 2012 as an Early Career Hire (ECH) within the Phaeton Program and has worked on various MBSE (Model-Based Systems Engineering) projects in Section 313 at JPL. Earlier in her JPL career, Mrs. Clark worked for EDL-SA (Entry, Descent, and Landing-Systems Analysis) - a concept study on increasing the landed mass capability of Mars Science Laboratory (MSL). In addition, she assisted in Verification & Validation (V&V) work and Mission Operation preparations. Throughout her college career, Mrs. Clark worked on two small satellite design teams participating in the AFRL University Nano- satellites program and obtained two internships at NASA Ames working on testing new thermal protection systems designs. Jessica is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

Boon Lim
Principal Investigator
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Boon Lim is the Principal Investigator for the Radiometer Atmospheric CubeSat Experiment (RACE) and is responsible for---. Dr. Lim received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering and his PhD in geoscience and remote sensing from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1999, 2001, and 2008, respectively. From 2002 to 2003, Dr. Lim was a Staff Engineer with the Space Physics Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan. In addition, Dr. Lim was a Graduate Student Research Assistant with the Remote Sensing Group, where his research involved microwave remote sensing calibration and instrumentation, including synthetic aperture radiometry. At JPL, Dr. Lim is a member of the Microwave Systems Technology Group. Dr. Lim was the recipient of a NASA Group Achievement Award as a member of the Lightweight Rainfall Radiometer Instrument Team and of a NASA Earth System Science Fellowship from 2005 to 2008 where he worked on the "Development of a Geosynchronous Temperature and Humidity Sounder/Imager."

Raymond Ellyin
Mission Assurance Manager
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Raymond Ellyin is the Mission Assurance Manager for the Radiometer Atmospheric CubeSat Experiment (RACE) and is responsible for safety, reliability, parts, hardware quality assurance, software quality assurance, and environments. Dr. Ellyin represents the office of safety and mission success (OSMS - 5X) on the RACE Project. Dr. Ellyin received his B.S. in Physics and Mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He moved on to receive his M.S. in Engineering and a PhD in Systems Technology from UCLA. Raymond's research interest includes Decision Analysis & Probability Theory. In addition to RACE, Dr. Ellyin has worked as a Planetary Protection Engineer on GRAIL, developed JPL Formulation Work, and Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) decent stage test procedures. In addition to this, Dr. Ellyin published a variety of articles such as the CubeSat White Paper and JPL Mission Complexity Factors. Raymond is a member of the JPL Innovation Foundry and has achieved numerous awards such as the NSTA Strategic Planning & Organizational Capability Award - 2012, Earth Venture - 1 Proposal Team Award - 2012, and the 10 years Institutional Service Award - 2013. On his free time, Raymond enjoys working out, playing chess, playing the piano, and travelling.

Michael Shearn
Radiometer CogE
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Michael Shearn is the Radiometer Cognizant Engineer (CogE) for the Radiometer Atmospheric CubeSat Experiment (RACE) and is responsible for leading the radiometer engineering team. Dr. Shearn received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering, Physics, and Mathematics at Southern Methodist University. He then moved on to receive his M.S. and PhD in Applied Physics at the California Institute of Technology. He joined JPL in 2010 as an Early Career Hire (ECH) within the Phaeton Program. At JPL, Dr. Shearn has worked on the design and prototyping of a robotic endoscopic system for minimally invasive surgery, development of the instrumentation and devices in support of NASA robotic exploration -- including micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) and vacuum electronics, and vacuum encapsulation technology for biological material. As a graduate student in the Nano- fabrication group at the California Institute of Technology, Dr. Shearn Conducted research in integrated photonics technology with an emphasis on Si/III-V hybrid structures, nonlinear polymers, and other materials. Dr. Shearn has extensive knowledge and experience in Nano-fabrication techniques, computer modeling, and device measurement. Dr. Shearn has both published and co-published many articles in various prestigious journals regarding a variety of subjects and has extensive teaching and mentoring experience. He has received a number of awards and fellowships including the NASA Board Award for Multi-Angle and Rear Viewing Laparoscopic Endoscope 2011, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow 2006-2009, Department of Homeland Security Graduate Research Fellow 2004-2006, Barry M. Goldwater Scholar (1 of 300 in United States) 2003, Eta Kappa Nu Electrical Engineering Honor Society-Member 2003, SMU School of Engineering Mark Shepard Award for Outstanding Undergraduate 2002, SMU President's Scholar (Full Tuition, 1 of 20 per year) 2000, and the National Merit Scholar 2000.

Shannon Statham
Radiometer I&T Lead
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Shannon Statham is the Radiometer Integration and Test Lead for the Radiometer Atmospheric CubeSat Experiment (RACE) and is responsible for managing the instrument integration and testing (I&T) phase. This includes planning and implementing the assembly, functional and performance testing of the RACE radiometer, securing the necessary resources (such as ground support equipment, facility reservations, test procedures, etc.) to complete these tasks, and maintaining the I&T schedule and budget. Dr. Statham received her B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Central Florida. She then moved on to get her M.S. and PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology where her thesis focused on dynamic testing and structural health monitoring of a prototype drill for interplanetary exploration. She joined JPL in 2011 as an Early Career Hire (ECH) within the Phaeton Program. Outside of her tasks on RACE, she assists in supporting dynamic testing activities in the Environmental Test Lab for both flight and development projects and is an instrument operator for OPALS (Optical PAyload for Laser-communication Science). She is becoming more involved with the formulation and testing of CubeSats at JPL. In addition, Dr. Statham was a co-investigator for a Spontaneous Research and Technology Development (R&TD) task to validate a vibration and shock attenuation prototype using non-linear wave propagation theory, and has supported research activities for using Laser Doppler Vibrometers (LDVs) in shock testing of hardware. Dr. Statham is an Amelia Earhart Fellow, and a member of both Sigma Gamma Tau (Aerospace Engineering Honor Society) and Tau Beta Pi (Engineering Honor Society). Her research interests include Structural dynamics, fault diagnostics and structural health monitoring, and dynamic testing and analysis.

Sidharth Misra
Instrument Scientist
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Sidharth Misra is the Instrument Scientist for the Radiometer Atmospheric CubeSat Experiment (RACE) and is responsible for developing the pre- and post-launch calibration plan and track the error budget of the radiometer. He helps guide the design priorities of the radiometer team and addresses the science accuracy requirements translated to the instrument. Dr. Misra received his B.S. in Electronics and Communication at the Nirma Institute of Technology, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. He then moved on to receive his M.S. in Signals & Systems and Geoscience & Remote Sensing at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. At the University of Michigan, Dr. Misra got his PhD in Atmospheric and Space Sciences and studied the "Development of Radio Frequency Interference Detection Algorithms for Passive Microwave Remote Sensing". He joined JPL in 2010 as an Early Career Hire (ECH) within the Phaeton Program. Dr. Misra has extensive experience with microwave radiometry and has worked on the calibration and validation for Aquarius. His research interests include microwave radiometry, RFI algorithm development, calibration, and optimization inversion algorithm development.

Oleg Sindiy
MOS/GDS Lead, I&T Support
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Oleg Sindiy provides the Radiometer I&T support for the Radiometer Atmospheric CubeSat Experiment (RACE). Prior to this role, he was the RACE Mission Operations System/Ground Data Systems (MOS/GDS) lead. Dr. Sindiy provided support to the RACE Instrument Scientist and I&T Lead (see above) for defining instrument level calibration and performance procedures for radiometer instrument testing. Prior to this, he lead the development of the RACE Mission System-i.e., the design and deployment of all of the ground-based capabilities necessary for operating the RACE CubeSat in space. Dr. Sindiy received his B.S. in Aerospace Engineering at Purdue University in 2004. By 2010, Dr. Sindiy received his M.S. and PhD in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at Purdue University. Oleg's research and application interests include integrated design and deployment of flight hardware and software for human and robotic space exploration vehicle platforms, with an emphasis in technical architecture exploration via model-based systems engineering approaches. Since starting at JPL, Oleg has worked as a systems architect. He has led the program-level systems engineering of the Orion (MPCV) Exploration Flight Test -1 (EFT-1) End- to-End Information System. He has also provided model-based systems engineering support for modernization of the software and operations of the Deep Space Network, Near Earth Network, and Space Network services provided by NASA's SCaN program office. He also collaborated with JPL MOS and GDS subject matter experts on model-based capture of the full mission life cycle MOS/GDS procedures and products/deliverables. Prior to JPL and a graduate student at Purdue University, Oleg worked on developing models for trade space modeling and analysis of system-of-systems architecture, with funded application problems in NASA's Constellation Program, and in ground operations for Orion CEV and Ares launch vehicles. Dr. Sindiy has received a JPL Ranger Bonus Award and JSC Group Award for his program-level systems engineering work on the Orion MPCV Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1) end-to-to information system (EEIS) development. In addition, Oleg is an active member of American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics. He is an officer in the local AIAA San Gabriel Valley Section and a member of the national organization.

Maxwell Bryk
Power Electronics CogE
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Maxwell Bryk is the Power Electronics Cognizant Engineer for the Radiometer Atmospheric CubeSat Experiment (RACE). Mr. Bryk is responsible for designing and testing the power and control electronics required to power the radiometer and control its calibration sources. Mr. Bryk received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology. Max joined JPL in 2012 and was responsible for modifying and re-designing the electronics of the COVE CubeSat (the first JPL-designed CubeSat) to create the Marina FPGA board for the GRIFEX CubeSat. Max's interests include electronics engineering and jazz. Max also enjoys playing the tenor saxophone and piano on his free time.

Kenneth Donahue
Flight Software CogE
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Kenneth Donahue is the Instrument Flight Software Cognizant Engineer for the Radiometer Atmospheric CubeSat Experiment (RACE). He is responsible for developing the radiometer flight software and related testing software. Mr. Donahue received his B.S. and M.E. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with an emphasis in Robotics. His thesis focused on recognizing objects in LIDAR clouds. His primary research interest is to develop better systems engineering product development using model-based systems engineering (MBSE) methods. In terms of MBSE, Mr. Donahue links MagicDraw to analysis tools (Mathematica, MATLAB, Maple), Synchronizes information between MagicDraw to other information databases (DOORS, Sesame DB), and develops timeline specification ontology as well as transformation for timeline analysis (in Maple). In addition, Mr. Donahue develops Satellite Toolkit (STK) plugins such as visualizing and analyzing magnetic and radiation fields around Jupiter. In 2012, Mr. Donahue received the Certificate of Recognition Team Award for work resulting in 4 publications at AIAA's Infotech@Aerospace. He is a member of the Theta Xi, Delta Chapter. In his free time, Kenny enjoys rock climbing and building processes with his arduino uno microcontroller.

Joel Steinkraus
Structural/Thermal CogE
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Joel Steinkraus is the Radiometer Structural and Thermal Cognizant Engineer for the Radiometer Atmospheric CubeSat Experiment (RACE). He is responsible for the design of the radiometer structure as well as its configuration. Mr. Steinkraus received his B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the California Polytechnic State University of San Luis Obispo. In addition to RACE, Mr. Steinkraus helped develop the prototype Scanning Laser Infrared Molecular Spectrometer (SLIMS) compact beam propagation cell. He also provided mechanical support to the electronic packaging group on SMAP.

Andrew Romero-Wolf
Antenna CogE
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