CYGNSS Radio Frequency Anechoic Chamber Testing

Image Credit: Southwest Research Institute

Image Credit: Southwest Research Institute

May 20, 2016 – As part of a series of environmental tests for NASA’s CYGNSS constellation, one of the eight microsatellites is placed in a radio frequency (RF) anechoic chamber at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

Each microsatellite consists of an integrated suite of components such as star trackers, reaction wheels, avionics, communication radios, and global navigation equipment. This testing evaluates the RF interference between the microsatellite and CYGNSS’ highly sensitive instruments.

Environmental testing of the constellation is expected to continue through July 2016.

The CYGNSS mission is scheduled to launch in October 2016 and will be the first mission to probe the inner core of hurricanes in greater detail to better understand their rapid intensification.

The constellation of eight microsatellites will measure surface winds in and near the inner core of hurricanes, including regions beneath the eye wall and intense inner rainbands that could not previously be measured from space. The CYGNSS-measured wind fields, when combined with precipitation fields (e.g., produced by the Global Precipitation Measurement core satellite and its constellation of precipitation imagers), will provide coupled observations of moist atmospheric thermodynamics and ocean surface response, enabling new insights into hurricane inner core dynamics and energetics.

The Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio is building and testing the CYGNSS microsatellites and will host the mission operations center at its Boulder, Colorado location.

Sierra Nevada Corporation is designing a deployment module for the mission, which is designed to carry all eight satellites on one launch vehicle. When the rocket gets to just the right altitude, the deployment module will start up and deploy pairs of satellites in opposite directions.

CYGNSS is funded through NASA’s Earth Science Division through its Earth System Science Pathfinder Program Office and developed by the University of Michigan.