2012.B.2.4 Nanosatellite for Earth Environmental Monitoring: The MICROMAS Project


William Blackwell (1), Kerri Cahoy (2), David Miller (2), Idahosa Osaretin (1), and Annie Marinan (2)

  1. MIT Lincoln Laboratory
  2. MIT Space Systems Laboratory


B.2 – Technologies and Missions to Enhance Interplanetary CubeSat Science


microwave radiometry atmosheric sensing


The Micro-sized Microwave Atmospheric Satellite (MicroMAS) is a 3U CubeSat (34.05 x 10 x10 cm, ~4kg, ~12W average power, ~15kbps average data rate) hosting a passive microwave spectrometer with nine channels operating near the 118.75-GHz oxygen absorption line. The focus of the first MicroMAS mission (hereafter, MicroMAS-1) is to observe convective thunderstorms, tropical cyclones, and hurricanes from a near-equatorial orbit. A MicroMAS-1 flight unit is currently being developed for a 2014 launch to be provided by the NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative program. A parabolic reflector is mechanically rotated approximately once per second as the spacecraft orbits the earth, thus directing a cross-track scanned beam with FWHM beamwidth of 2.4 degrees, yielding an approximately 20-km diameter footprint at nadir incidence from a nominal altitude of 500 km. Radiometric calibration is carried out using observations of cold space, the earth’s limb, and an internal noise diode that is weakly coupled through the RF front-end electronics. A key technology feature is the development of an ultracompact intermediate frequency processor module for channelization, detection, and A-to-D conversion. The antenna system and RF front-end electronics are highly integrated, miniaturized, and optimized for low-power operation. In this talk, the MicroMAS-1 mission concept of operations will be discussed including the science program, the radiometer payload will be described, and the spacecraft subsystems (avionics, power, communications, attitude determination and control, and mechanical structures and mechanisms) will be summarized. Test data from the recently completed MicroMAS Engineering Development Model (EDM) will also be presented.


  • Download slides in PDF format here
  • Low quality video available here


  • Optional paper not submitted

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: