Modular Cubesat Architectures and Components

Period of Performance: 03/12/2010 - 02/12/2011


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Atmospheric & Space Technology Research
5777 Central Avenue, Suite 221
Boulder, CO 80301
Principal Investigator


This Phase-I proposal applies Plug-and-Play concepts to the development of a radically new instrument, the so-called CubeSat-Tiny Ionospheric Photometer (CTIP) that will acquire 135.6 nm nightglow measurements with optical design, thermal management, and power control systems specifically constrained for a nadir-oriented 3U CubeSat bus. Phase-I deliverables will be payload designs that transition the CTIP design to be compatible with the current standard practices and interfaces established by the Plug-n-Play community, while still maintaining its small size and power. Specifically, we will: 1. Develop a CTIP proto-flight board conceptual design with hardware and software architectures that are mutually consistent with the Plug-n-Play communication interface standards and the established CubeSat mass, fit/form, and power resources; 2. Explore host computer selection and specifications for a CubeSat satellite bus that are compatible with the Plug-n-Play standards; 3. Explore optical and photometer design enhancements that will provide greater flexibility and modularity in the use of CTIP on CubeSats. The proposal team includes recognized experts in each relevant domain who have worked successfully together on various projects for many years. Phase-II will result in a nearly launch-ready instrument and satellite bus. The instrument has immediate operational mission capabilities in the domain of Space Situational Awareness. BENEFIT: As a community, we are at a Tipping Point, where the needs and capabilities of different players have become aligned. The new field of Space Plug-and-play Avionics (SPA) has developed in concert with Operationally Responsive Space, and this proposal describes an opportunity to apply some of the PnP concepts to an existing Cubesat-rated instrument so that it becomes relevant for an Operationally Responsive Space mission to measure global ionospheric electron densities that can be used for ionospheric specification. The instrument has immediate operational mission capabilities in the domain of Space Situational Awareness. It is also suitable for scientific missions by various government agencies including NASA and NSF.