NACHOS: Nanosat Atmospheric Chemistry Hyperspectral Observation System

Overview

NACHOS will allow scientists to detect, map, and quantify Earth’s dilute trace gases more easily, which is critical for learning more about everything from volcanology to climate change. This 3U CubeSat mission will help researchers determine whether constellations of CubeSat-like small satellites could gather and process high-resolution imaging data as efficiently as larger, single-platform satellites – at a fraction of the cost. NACHOS launched February 2022 and is awaiting deployment from the International Space Station.

Science Area

Atmospheric trace gases seeping from Earth’s interior and pouring from human-made sources give scientists unique insights into the nuanced systems behind things like local weather patterns, the biosphere, and climate change. If successful, NACHOS will mark the a major shift in the way scientists approach measuring atmospheric trace gases using space-based remote sensors and allow researchers to study these gases with far greater ease.

Technology

Spaceborne trace gas spectral imaging requires both high spectral resolution and high sensitivity, generating very large volumes of data and traditionally entailing a large satellite platform. NACHOS features an ultra-compact hyperspectral imager that pre-processes data in situ, targeting NO2, SO2, ozone, formaldehyde, and other gases with sufficient spectral resolution to confidently separate the trace gas signatures from the atmosphere. This would allow researchers to gather high-resolution data on atmospheric trace gases with small satellites, drastically reducing the overall cost and increasing revisit time and mission flexibility.

Advancements

  • An ultra-compact Offner-type hyperspectral imager will operate in the 290-500 nm spectral region, with f/2.9 optics, 1.3 nm resolution, 0.6 nm sampling, 350 contiguous spectral channels, and 350 across-track spatial pixels.
  • A Teledyne/ e2v UV-optimized CCD array will have an integral full-frame readout buffer supporting high-frame readout rates. Internal LED-based onboard calibration provides CCD non-uniformity correction at 0.1%.
  • Streamlined hyperspectral gas retrieval algorithms pre-processes data in situ, addressing the issue of limited telemetry bandwidth by reducing large data cubes down to a set of small 2D images and spectral sample sets.

Principal Investigator

Steve Love photo

Steven P. Love is an experimental physicist, spectroscopist, and remote sensing instrumentation scientist. He is the project’s principal investigator and optics lead. He received his Ph.D. in physics from Cornell University in 1991 and since 1994 has been a technical staff member in the Space and Remote Sensing Group (ISR‐2) at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

Steve is assisted by co-investigators Kirk Post, James Theiler, and Manvendra Dubey, and engineering team Magdalena Dale, Logan Ott, Claira Safi, Hannah Mohr, and Kerry Boyd, all currently at LANL.

Publications

S. P. Love, et al., “NACHOS, a CubeSat-based high-resolution UV-Visible hyperspectral imager for remote sensing of trace gases: System overview and science objectives,” Proc. SPIE 11832, CubeSats and SmallSats for Remote Sensing V, 118320E (2021). https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2594336

K. W. Post, et al., “The NACHOS CubeSat-based hyperspectral imager: Laboratory and field performance characterization,” Proc. SPIE 11832, CubeSats and SmallSats for Remote Sensing V, 118320F (2021). https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2594686

J. Theiler, B. R. Foy, C. L. Safi, and S. P. Love, “Onboard CubeSat data processing for hyperspectral detection of chemical plumes”, Proc. SPIE 10644, Algorithms and Technologies for Multispectral, Hyperspectral, and Ultraspectral Imagery XXIV, 1064405 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2305278

ESTF 2020 Presentation

ESTF 2021 Presentation