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MiRaTA (Microwave Radiometer Technology Acceleration) is an Earth observation technology demonstration CubeSat mission developed at MIT Lincoln Lab to test a miniaturized multi-band microwave radiometer and compact GPS occultation payload that could build the foundation of a future CubeSat constellation for the collection of global weather data at very rapid revisit intervals.

The MiRaTA project is part of NASA’s InVEST (In-Space Validation of Earth Science Technologies) Program aiming to develop and test small instruments and remote-sensing subsystems that can advance the current state of technology to enable relevant Earth science measurements via smaller satellite platforms. MiRaTA will validate a new ultra-compact and low-power microwave radiometer for the collection of atmospheric profiles, a GPS occultation receiver and antenna for tropospheric radio occultation sounding and a novel approach to radiometer calibration using GPS radio occultation measurements. The goal is to advance the technology readiness level of both components from TRL 5 to 7 at the conclusion of the mission.

MiRaTA is the first ever implementation of co-located radiometer and occultation sounding and the first CubeSat implementation of temperature/humidity radiometric sounding and occultation sounding. The mission will not only validate multiple subsystem technologies but also demonstrate a new sensing technique that could dramatically enhance the capabilities of future weather and climate observatories. Shrinking an operational radiometer and GPS RO system to fit onto a nanosatellite platform furthermore enables new architectural approaches for low-cost, high-return missions in the field of operational meteorology.

The calibration approach developed for MiRaTA calls for a pitch up/down maneuver once per orbit to complete a radiometer pass and GPS occultation across overlapping volumes of the atmosphere through Earth’s limb where sensitivity, calibration, and dynamic range are optimal. For an operational mission, this type of measurement will allow for an intra-satellite calibration approach no-longer relying on blackbodies and other calibration sources. For MiRaTA, concurrent radiometer and GPS RO data will be compared with ground-based radiosondes and other satellite observations to validate the measurements.

Alternate Names

  • 43015
  • Microwave Radiometer Technology Acceleration

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 2017-11-18
Launch Vehicle: Delta II 7920
Launch Site: Vandenberg AFB, United States
Mass: 5.5 kg

Funding Agency

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (United States)


  • Technology Applications
  • Earth Science

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office

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