MISRlite – Multi-angle IR Stereo radiometer using uncooled microbolometer arrays for global winds

Lead Organisation: Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL)

Partners: University College London with Thales

Atmospheric winds are a vital input parameter to Numerical Weather Predictions (NWP). Most of these wind measurements come from tracking passive cloud tracers (known as Cloud Motion vectors or CMVs) in geostationary (15 minute interval) thermal IR images up to ±55º of latitude and overlapping (90 minute separation) thermal IR features from polar orbiting satellites (above ±70º of latitude). The NASA MISR (Multi-angle Imaging Spectro-Radiometer) instrument is a 9-look push-broom sensor, which has been producing CMVs along the track since March 2000 at resolutions down to 1.2km but only up to 380km in swath-width and only during daylight. These winds have much more accurate 3D heights compared with the aforementioned CMWs and are about to be processed in near real-time (<<5 hours).

The Multi-angle IR Stereo Radiometer (MISRlite) is a thermal IR satellite concept for a 1500km swath-width capable of day/night operation to produce CMVs at 900m resolution. MISRlite is based on proven microbolometer technology exploiting Time Delay Integration and fast electronics to generate high quality thermal IR images. MISRlite will address the proposed geometric gCMV concept selected by ESA to meet the needs of a tandem mission with the EPS 2nd Generation MetOp operational satellite due for launch in the early 2020s. In this Fast-Track proposal, we plan to design, develop and demonstrate a prototype on a gimbal mount and demonstrate this on a series of flights in Australia where a coincident lidar altimeter will record the cloud-top heights.

Our industrial partner, SEA Ltd, will study the flight implementation of the MISRlite concept and derive system design and baseline resource budgets. They will also investigate the data processing required to handle the data from multi-element focal plane required for the flight implementation.