Instrument Engineering

Instrument Engineering Summary


SSAI provides instrument engineering for systems critical to successful research in Earth and Space Science, and thus specializes in designing and building sensors that must operate reliably in harsh environments. Our numerous and varied instrument engineering teams support instrument and system design, define component specifications, and oversee the installation and calibration for systems such as: NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), NASA/NOAA’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometric Suite (VIIRS) on-board the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), and the NASA/USGS LANDSAT missions, to name a few.


Major Accomplishments

Team SSAI Played a Large Role in the Successful Completion of the ARCSTONE IIP Project Instrument Design, Modeling, and Fabrication.

ARCSTONE is an Instrument Incubator Program (IIP) project, with a mission concept that provides a solution to the challenge of achieving required instrument calibration accuracy on-orbit for in-space remote sensing. The objective of ARCSTONE Project is to develop an approach for establishing the Moon as an accurate reference for on-orbit calibration of reflected solar instruments. The goals of the ARCSTONE mission are three-fold: 1) Collaborate with the Global Space-based Inter-Calibration System (GSICS) community to establish the international standard for absolute lunar calibration; 2) Use the instrument’s exceptionally accurate measurements to establish highly accurate Earth climate observations that are estimated to have an economic impact of ~$12T over the next 40 to 60 years; and 3) Improve the performance and impact of past, current, and future Earth weather and climate sensors.

The ARCSTONE observatory in low Earth orbit with the spectrometer viewing the Sun and Moon.Team SSAI provides oversight for the instrument development in general, while also playing an integral role in the Full Spectral Range (FSR) instrument design and Structural Thermal Optical Performance (STOP) analysis. The FSR instrument is designed with fit-form-function to be deployed on a 6U CubeSat platform with significant margins in mass and power; and has achieved high reliability by including all required electronics, cabling, and cabling support mounts. Team SSAI successfully completed the instrument design, fabrication, and analysis of the FSR Engineering Design Unit (EDU).

As the follow-on of the IIP, ARCSTONE Project was selected for the NASA In-Space Validation of Earth Science Technologies (InVEST) Program in support of the Earth Science Division. Under this program ARCSTONE team will be working toward the build of the Flight Unit.

After launch, ARCSTONE will leverage existing assets by using the Total and Spectral Irradiance Sensor (TSIS) observations – accurate Spectral Solar Irradiance (SSI) – for SI-traceable and spectral calibration of the ARCSTONE instrument on orbit. An orbiting spectrometer flying on a small satellite in low Earth orbit will provide lunar spectral reflectance with accuracy sufficient to establish an SI-traceable absolute lunar calibration standard for past, current, and future Earth weather and climate sensors, such as SeaWiFS; Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS); Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE), Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Earth Observatory (CLARREO), and the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) (future) Decadal Survey missions, respectively.

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In The News

SSAI Celebrates JPSS-2

JPSS-2 launched November 10, this satellite was developed to help forecasters better predict extreme weather and monitor climate change.

SSAI employees gathered around a cake

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