Exploded view of the SWATS sensor
Exploded view of the SWATS sensor

Objective
Develop low size, weight, and power (SWaP) in-situ instrument suite capable of measuring neutral winds, neutral temperature, neutral composition, ion drifts, ion temperature, and ion composition. The sensor suite is also known as the Winds Ions Neutrals Composition Suite (WINCS).

Approach
NRL is the PI institution on a collaborative effort with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to develop a low SWaP in-situ sensor sponsored by the the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), Air Force Space and Missile Command (SMC), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and the National Science Foundation. The sensor suite is CubeSat compatible.

Flight Hardware for the SWATS instrument, from left to right: spectrometer body, flight electronics, focal plane array, anodes and HV power supply
Flight Hardware for the SWATS instrument, from left to right: spectrometer body, flight electronics, focal plane array, anodes and HV power supply

Deliverable/Value/Accomplishment

  • NRL has developed a low SWaP in-situ sensor:
    • Volume: 7.62 x 7.62 x 7.11 cm
    • Mass: 635 g
    • Power: 1.3 W
  • Intent is to demonstrate operational utility of data set from CubeSat and other small satellite busses
  • Ideal for an operational constellation of 30-50 sensors, as secondary payloads to larger satellites or primary instruments on CubeSats

SWATS Sensors Ground Testing Results
Laboratory testing at GSFC and NRL show good performance of spectrometer suite. Cathode testing has shown cathode to be robust and long-lived. The cathode performance testing showed no degradation after two months of humidity exposure.

IDTS Lab Data: Source N+ and N2+, Energy = 5eV
IDTS Lab Data: Source N+ and N2+, Energy = 5eV
GEMS Processed Lab Data, Mass Spectrum
GEMS Processed Lab Data, Mass Spectrum
GEMS Lab Raw Data: Source N2+, with ambient chamber gases
GEMS Lab Raw Data: Source N2+, with ambient chamber gases

SWATS Host Platforms

From left to right, the International Space Station, STP-Sat3, and SENSE CubeSat
From left to right, the International Space Station, STP-Sat3, and SENSE CubeSat

Launch Plans, sponsored by the DoD Space Test Program

  • Aug 2013: STP-H4 on Express Logistics Carrier-1 (ELC) on the International Space Station, 400 km circular orbit, 51.6° inclination, Launch Vehicle: HTV-4 from Tanegashima, Japan
    *Dual Use Sensor demonstration
  • NET 27 Oct 2013: STP-Sat3, 500 km circular orbit, 45° inclination, Launch Vehicle: Minotaur-1 on ORS-3 mission out of Wallops Island, VA
  • NET 27 Oct 2013: Space Environmental NanoSat Experiment (SENSE) an USAF SMC CubeSat, 500 km circular orbit, 45° inclination, Launch Vehicle: Minotaur-1 on ORS-3 mission out of Wallops Island, VA
  • NET Oct 2014: CubeSat investigating Atmospheric Density Response to Extreme driving (CADRE) a Univ. of Michigan NSF CubeSat. Orbit and LV TBD