Session

Technical Session 3: Year in Review

Location

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Abstract

The Aerospace Corporation’s Rogue-alpha, betaprogram, co-funded by the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Development Corps, is a rapid prototyping effort that built and launched two 3-Unit CubeSats equipped with modified commercial IR camera payloads, laser communications and precision pointing capabilities in 18-months. Launched on 2 November 2019, the two spacecraft were released from the ISS Cygnus NG-12 robotic resupply spacecraft on 31 January 2020 into a circular 460-km, 52° inclined orbit. The two Rogue spacecraft are serving as testbeds for studying wide-field-of-view fast-framing imaging, on-orbit stellar calibration techniques for small IR payloads, and associated spacecraft flight operations. Precision pointing is enabled by three star sensors. High data rate sensor observations are enabled by the ultra-compact 200 Mbps lasercom system, which downlinks gigabytes of stored data during a single laser contact, using The Aerospace Corporation’s prototype ground stations located in El Segundo, California. The Rogue-alpha, beta IR sensor is a 1.4 micron band, 640x512 pixel, 28° field of view, InGaAs SWIR camera. It is accompanied by a panchromatic, 10-megapixel, 37° field of view visible context camera. Modes of sensor operation have included: 1) horizon-pointed imaging in all directions relative to the spacecraft orbit (fore, aft, port, and starboard) which is designed to maximize the imaged field of view, 2) point-and-stare imaging, 3) nadir-pointed, and 4) stereo fore-aft pointing using both spacecraft. All of these modes of operation are usually conducted in multi-frame collections at 1-20hz for dozens to thousands of frames. Highlights from the Rogue-alpha, beta sensor Earth remote sensing observation experiments will be presented. These have included impressive video imagery of hurricanes, typhoons, thunderstorms, and high clouds in the intra-tropical convergence zone. Infrared and visible point sources studied include gas flares, wildfires, active volcanos, nighttime lights, and other phenomena, including the first infrared CubeSat observations of space launch upper stages in flight. Stereo cloud imaging observations were also conducted with an aim of better understanding Earth backgrounds from low Earth orbit. Highlights from the CubeSat flight operations experiments include: 1) spacecraft-to-spacecraft boresight alignment of Rogue’s lasercom systems, and 2) metric and radiometric calibration of Rogue’s flight cameras using bright infrared stars. The results from the Rogue-alpha, beta460-km orbit show the exciting possibilities for wide-field-of-view missions from low earth orbit.

Available for download on Saturday, August 07, 2021

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Aug 10th, 10:00 AM

Flight Operations of Two Rapidly Assembled CubeSats with Commercial Infrared Cameras: The Rogue-Alpha, Beta Program

Utah State University, Logan, UT

The Aerospace Corporation’s Rogue-alpha, betaprogram, co-funded by the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Development Corps, is a rapid prototyping effort that built and launched two 3-Unit CubeSats equipped with modified commercial IR camera payloads, laser communications and precision pointing capabilities in 18-months. Launched on 2 November 2019, the two spacecraft were released from the ISS Cygnus NG-12 robotic resupply spacecraft on 31 January 2020 into a circular 460-km, 52° inclined orbit. The two Rogue spacecraft are serving as testbeds for studying wide-field-of-view fast-framing imaging, on-orbit stellar calibration techniques for small IR payloads, and associated spacecraft flight operations. Precision pointing is enabled by three star sensors. High data rate sensor observations are enabled by the ultra-compact 200 Mbps lasercom system, which downlinks gigabytes of stored data during a single laser contact, using The Aerospace Corporation’s prototype ground stations located in El Segundo, California. The Rogue-alpha, beta IR sensor is a 1.4 micron band, 640x512 pixel, 28° field of view, InGaAs SWIR camera. It is accompanied by a panchromatic, 10-megapixel, 37° field of view visible context camera. Modes of sensor operation have included: 1) horizon-pointed imaging in all directions relative to the spacecraft orbit (fore, aft, port, and starboard) which is designed to maximize the imaged field of view, 2) point-and-stare imaging, 3) nadir-pointed, and 4) stereo fore-aft pointing using both spacecraft. All of these modes of operation are usually conducted in multi-frame collections at 1-20hz for dozens to thousands of frames. Highlights from the Rogue-alpha, beta sensor Earth remote sensing observation experiments will be presented. These have included impressive video imagery of hurricanes, typhoons, thunderstorms, and high clouds in the intra-tropical convergence zone. Infrared and visible point sources studied include gas flares, wildfires, active volcanos, nighttime lights, and other phenomena, including the first infrared CubeSat observations of space launch upper stages in flight. Stereo cloud imaging observations were also conducted with an aim of better understanding Earth backgrounds from low Earth orbit. Highlights from the CubeSat flight operations experiments include: 1) spacecraft-to-spacecraft boresight alignment of Rogue’s lasercom systems, and 2) metric and radiometric calibration of Rogue’s flight cameras using bright infrared stars. The results from the Rogue-alpha, beta460-km orbit show the exciting possibilities for wide-field-of-view missions from low earth orbit.