Michigan Aerospace Corporation proposes to model a remote-sensing instrument, based around a Fabry-Perot interferometer, for sensing thermospheric winds from a CubeSat-class satellite during this Phase I base effort. This work will provide an important, relatively inexpensive and compact instrument option for measuring thermospheric winds, with implications for improving space weather observations and forecasts and improving the modeling of the solar/terrestrial interaction. Michigan Aerospace’s extensive experience with Fabry-Perot interferometers and sensor systems based on them, including for thermospheric sensing, will help pave the path towards this program’s success.
Measuring thermospheric winds from a CubeSat-class satellite will allow more widespread space-based observations of this important component of space weather, with orbits chosen to be optimal for the purposes of the observations. Also, such a small sensor could serve as a secondary or tertiary payload aboard other satellites. The resulting data will help refine NASA models for space weather forecasting and thermospheric modeling efforts.
The military has interests similar to NASA in better space forecasting and modeling, as it is important for the protection of space-based assets, terrestrial power, and other military networks. Civilian users will benefit from improved NASA modeling of space weather than can affect user networks and satellites.