Ball Aerospace GEMS Instrument Passes Critical Design Review

Image Credit: Ball Aerospace

Image Credit: Ball Aerospace

April 1, 2015 – The Ball Aerospace air quality sensor being built for the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) under South Korea’s National Institute of Environmental Research in the Ministry of Environment has passed a major milestone toward its launch.

The Critical Design Review (CDR) was successfully completed for the Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer (GEMS) in February. GEMS is a scanning ultraviolet-visible instrument designed to monitor trans-boundary pollution events for the Korean peninsula and Asia-Pacific region. It will be the first air quality sensor in geostationary orbit.

“GEMS is an excellent example of how international collaboration can effectively improve quality of life,” said Cary Ludtke, vice president and general manager of Ball’s Operational Space business unit. “The successful completion of the CDR for this scientifically advanced instrument allows the program to move into the manufacturing, assembly, integration and testing phase with instrument completion expected in early 2017.”

Ball engineers are working side by side with KARI engineers on the GEMS instrument in a recently completed cleanroom on Ball’s Boulder campus for GEMS assembly, integration and test activities. GEMS is manifested on KARI’s GEO-KOMPSAT-2B geostationary satellite for a 2018 launch.

The spectrometer provides high spatial and high temporal resolution measurements of ozone, its precursors and aerosols. Hourly measurements by GEMS will improve early warnings for potentially dangerous pollution events and monitor long-term climate change.

The GEMS instrument is the Asian element of a global air quality monitoring constellation of geostationary satellites that includes the Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) spectrometer. Ball is the TEMPO instrument provider for NASA Langley Research Center and Harvard Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory on the Earth Venture program.

For more than 30 years, Ball Aerospace has been a recognized industry leader in developing advanced instruments, including spectrometers. Ball provided the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite aboard the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership and is building a similar instrument for the Joint Polar Satellite System. Historically, Ball was the primary supplier of spectrometers for the Hubble Space Telescope including the Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph, Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph and the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph.