The Compact Infrared Radiometer in Space

CIRiS: Low Cost. High-Value Scientific Data.

Small but capable, Ball’s CIRiS instrument will observe the Earth from a spacecraft no larger than a shoebox. The miniaturized instrument weighs only 1.4 kg (3 lb); due to its small size and weight, the cost of launch is substantially reduced, contributing to lower overall mission costs.  

CIRiS collects highly calibrated infrared images of land and ocean surfaces. Ball began CIRiS development with an aircraft-mounted instrument, adapting it for the special challenges of the space environment and operation on a 6U CubeSat. CIRiS uses carbon nanotube calibration sources to perform on-orbit calibration from a much smaller platform than previously possible. A state-of-the-art uncooled infrared imaging detector enables greater sensitivity without active cooling, eliminating power requirements and weight from the system.

Funded by the NASA InVEST (In space Validation of Earth Science Technology) program, the mission objective is to demonstrate new CubeSat-compatible technologies enabling Earth observation for scientific applications. CIRiS implements this goal by using its innovative technologies for accurate calibration, on the ground, and in-orbit.

What Will CIRiS Do?

CIRiS collects images simultaneously in three long-wavelength bands. The data provide information about the Earth’s land and sea surface temperatures and properties of clouds and the atmosphere. Further image analysis supports applications including the mapping of soil moisture for measuring local drought conditions and investigation of conditions preceding extreme storms. Data will help scientists and decision makers with evaluating drought severity, climate modeling and other important questions about the Earth.

What We Are Doing

Ball designed CIRiS and is currently assembling the instrument, and will integrate it to the CubeSat. The mission is slated for launch in 2019.  Ball will test and calibrate the integrated instrument and bus, and will conduct mission operations with the aid of Space Dynamics Laboratory. Ground and on-orbit data will be analyzed and stored by Ball for future applications.

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