The CubeSat Infrared Atmospheric Sounder (CIRAS) will measure upwelling infrared radiation of the Earth in the MWIR region of the spectrum from space on a CubeSat. The observed radiances have information of potential value to weather forecasting agencies and can be used to retrieve lower tropospheric temperature and water vapor globally for weather and climate science investigations. Multiple units can be flown to improve temporal coverage or in formation to provide new data products including 3D atmospheric motion vector winds.

CIRAS incorporates key new instrument technologies including a 2D array of High Operating Temperature Barrier Infrared Detector (HOT-BIRD) material, selected for its high uniformity, low cost, low noise and higher operating temperatures than traditional materials. The detectors are hybridized to a commercial ROIC and commercial camera electronics. The second key technology is an MWIR Grating Spectrometer (MGS) designed to provide imaging spectroscopy for atmospheric sounding in a CubeSat volume. The MGS has no moving parts and includes an immersion grating to reduce the volume and reduce distortion. The third key technology is an infrared blackbody fabricated with black silicon to have very high emissivity in a flat plate construction. JPL will also develop the mechanical, electronic and thermal subsystems for CIRAS, while the spacecraft will be a commercially available CubeSat. The integrated system will be a complete 6U CubeSat capable of measuring temperature and water vapor profiles with good lower tropospheric sensitivity.

CIRAS is scheduled for launch in the 2019 timeframe. The CIRAS is the first step towards the development of an Earth Observation Nanosatellite Infrared (EON-IR) capable of operational readiness to mitigate a potential loss of CrIS on JPSS or complement the current observing system with different orbit crossing times.

Scientific Instrument(s)

- MWIR Grating Spectrometer (MGS)