We present the current development of the Carbon Balance Observatory (CARBO). CARBO is a wide-swath mapping, low Earth orbit (LEO) new generation of instruments that expands on the ground-breaking CO2 and Solar Induced Fluorescence (SIF) measurements pioneered by the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2/3) by adding CH4 and CO detection. The instrument’s spatial coverage is delivered at 2 km by 2 km resolution with a field-of-view of 10° to 15° from LEO for a ~200 km wide swath. It achieves roughly 20x better spatial coverage than the OCO-2 instrument, and 3x better Solar Induced Chlorophyll Fluorescence (SIF) detection sensitivity, in a smaller package. CARBO will measure CO2 at <1.5 ppm, CH4 at <7 ppb, CO at <5 ppb and SIF < 20%. The measurement of CO2/CH4/CO/SIF at these concentrations will significantly increase our ability to disentangle carbon fluxes into their constituent components. CARBO utilizes innovative immersion grating technology and enables high resolving power spectroscopy (roughly 20,000) in a smaller and lighter package that is more cost effective than current space-based CO2 remote sensing instruments. CARBO modules cover 4 different spectral ranges (from 740 nm to 2.3μm), where two channels will be built and field tested. CARBO’s modular architecture reduces implementation risk, accelerates access to space, and extends opportunities to a more diverse set of platforms and launch vehicles. CARBO significantly improves our understanding of the global carbon cycle. Here we discuss an overview of the design elements and focus on the expected radiometric performance of channels 1 (~760 nm) and 2 (~1600 nm).
The Lunar Flashlight (LF) mission will send a CubeSat to lunar orbit via NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) test flight. The LF spacecraft will carry a novel instrument to quantify and map water ice harbored in the permanently shadowed craters of the lunar South Pole. The LF instrument, an active multi-band reflectometer which employs four high power diode lasers in the 1-2 μm infrared band, will measure the reflectance of the lunar surface near water ice absorption peaks. We present the detailed instrument design and system engineering required to deploy this instrument within very demanding CubeSat resource allocations.
Mapping and quantifying lunar water ice addresses one of NASA’s Strategic Knowledge Gaps to understand the lunar resource potential for future human exploration of the Moon. Lunar Flashlight is an innovative NASA CubeSat mission dedicated to mapping water ice in the permanently-shadowed and occasionally-sunlit regions in the vicinity of the lunar South Pole. Lunar Flashlight will acquire these measurements from lunar orbit using a multi-band laser reflectometer composed of an optical receiver aligned with four lasers emitting different wavelengths in the shortwave infrared spectral region between 1 μm and 2 μm. The receiver measures the laser radiance reflected from the lunar surface in each spectral band and continuum/absorption reflectance band ratios are then analyzed to quantify water ice concentration in the illuminated spot. The receiver utilizes a 70×70-mm, aluminum, off-axis paraboloidal mirror with a focal length of 70 mm, which collects the incoming light onto a single, 2 mm diameter InGaAs detector with a cutoff wavelength of 2.4 μm. We present the optical and mechanical designs of the receiver, including its optimization for rejection of solar stray-light from outside its intended field of view. This highly mass- and volume-constrained instrument payload will demonstrate several firsts, including being one of the first instruments onboard a CubeSat performing science measurements beyond low Earth orbit and the first planetary mission to use multi-band active reflectometry from orbit.