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Instrument Incubator

TIRCIS: A Thermal Infrared, Compact Imaging Spectrometer for Small Satellite Applications (TIRCIS)

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

This project will demonstrate how hyperspectral thermal infrared (TIR; 8-14 microns) image data, with a spectral resolution of up to 8 wavenumbers, can be acquired by an instrument of sufficiently low mass, volume, and power consumption that it could be cost effectively deployed on small- or micro-satellites. This would constitute a new earth science measurement as there are currently no operational hyperspectral sensors acquiring TIR data with the spatial resolution needed to perform imaging spectroscopy for earth science applications, although these are many (mineral exploration; wildfire characterization; volcanic hazards; soil moisture/drought characterization). The University of Hawaii has developed a breadboard that uses uncooled microbolometers and a Fabry-Perot interferometer to acquire image cubes of 52 TIR spectral bands. This project will mature this technology towards spaceborne deployment. The proposed work involves, 1) optimizing the optical and mechanical design and calibration system; 2) incorporating new microbolometers with surface coatings that increase sensitivity and flatten responsiveness between 8-14 microns, 3) conducting a system level characterization of the instrument using NIST-traceable standards (SNR, spectral and spatial resolution, saturation radiances, radiometric linearity/response; 4) producing integrated instrument control and interferometric processing software; and 5) demonstrating science data collection from an airborne platform. The spatial resolution of the proposed microbolometer-based instrument would be ~120 m from an orbit of 480 km. Performance period is 36 months. Entry TRL is 4 and exit TRL is 6. More »

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