Title of Presentation: Prototyping GeoSTAR for the PATH Mission

Primary (Corresponding) Author: Bjorn Lambrigtsen

Organization of Primary Author: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Co-Authors: Alan Tanner, Todd Gaier, Pekka Kangaslahti, Shannon Brown; Jeffrey Piepmeier; Christofer Ruf


Abstract: The NRC recommends in the report on its decadal survey of NASA Earth science a mission called Precipitation and Atmospheric Temperature and Humidity (PATH). The PATH sensor is a microwave sounder deployed in geostationary orbit, with a primary mission of observing hurricanes and severe storms. The Geostationary Synthetic Thinned Aperture Radiometer (GeoSTAR) concept developed under the Instrument Incubator Program is the only sensor that can meet the PATH mission objectives. Under the IIP a proof-of-concept prototype was developed at JPL to demonstrate the feasibility of the aperture synthesis approach. The prototype was essentially completed in 2005, and testing and characterization has continued since then – both as part of the IIP effort, which came to end in mid-2006, and as part of internal JPL R&D efforts. The results are outstanding and show that a GeoSTAR-centered PATH mission is both feasible and affordable before the coming decade is over. The GeoSTAR effort has retired much of the technology risk associated with this concept, and ongoing cost and design studies indicate that engineering and implementation risks are only moderate. The GeoSTAR development is an example of how the IIP can be a fast track to space.