Skip Navigation
In-Space Validation of Earth Science Technologies

RainCube, A Precipitation Profiling Radar in a CubeSat

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

RainCube, A Precipitation Profiling Radar in a CubeSat
RainCube, which stands for Radar in a CubeSat, is a technology demonstration mission to enable Ka-band precipitation radar technologies on a low-cost, quick-turnaround platform. The proposed mission is to develop, launch, and operate a 35.75 GHz radar payload on a 6U CubeSat. This mission will validate a new architecture for Ka-band radars and an ultra-compact deployable Ka-band antenna in a space environment. RainCube will also demonstrate the feasibility of a radar payload on a CubeSat platform. Numerical climate and weather models depend on measurements from space-borne satellites to complete model validation and improvements. Precipitation profiling capabilities are currently limited to a few instruments deployed in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which cannot provide the temporal resolution necessary to observe the evolution of short time-scale weather phenomena and improve numerical weather prediction models. A constellation of precipitation profiling instruments in LEO would provide this essential capability, but the cost and timeframe of typical satellite platforms and instruments make this solution prohibitive. Thus, a new instrument architecture that is compatible with low-cost satellite platforms, such as CubeSats and SmallSats, will enable constellation missions and revolutionize climate science and weather forecasting. RainCube will design, build, and test a Ka-band radar payload that is compatible with a 6U CubeSat bus and current CubeSat capabilities. The integrated CubeSat will be launched and operated from LEO, and post-processing of the on-orbit data will be used to validate the functional operation and performance of the radar payload. The proposed mission will increase the technology readiness of the Ka-band radar architecture and antenna from an entry TRL 4-5 to an exit TRL 7 in a period of performance of two years and two months. More »

Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

Project Library

Share this Project

Organizational Responsibility

Project Management

Project Duration

Technology Maturity (TRL)

Technology Areas

Target Destination

Light bulb

Suggest an Edit

Recommend changes and additions to this project record.
^