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Implementation of Active Thermal Control (ATC) for the Soil Moisture Active and Passive (SMAP) RadiometerNASA's Earth Observing Soil Moisture Active and Passive (SMAP) Mission is scheduled to launch in November 2014 into a 685 kilometer near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit. SMAP will provide comprehensive global mapping measurements of soil moisture and freeze/thaw state in order to enhance understanding of the processes that link the water, energy, and carbon cycles. The primary objectives of SMAP are to improve worldwide weather and flood forecasting, enhance climate prediction, and refine drought and agriculture monitoring during its three year mission. The SMAP instrument architecture incorporates an L-band radar and an L-band radiometer which share a common feed horn and parabolic mesh reflector. The instrument rotates about the nadir axis at approximately 15 revolutions per minute, thereby providing a conically scanning wide swath antenna beam that is capable of achieving global coverage within three days. In order to make the necessary precise surface emission measurements from space, the electronics and hardware associated with the radiometer must meet tight short-term (instantaneous and orbital) and long-term (monthly and mission) thermal stabilities. Maintaining these tight thermal stabilities is quite challenging because the sensitive electronics are located on a fast spinning platform that can either be in full sunlight or total eclipse, thus exposing them to a highly transient environment. A passive design approach was first adopted early in the design cycle as a low-cost solution. With careful thermal design efforts to cocoon and protect all sensitive components, all stability requirements were met passively. Active thermal control (ATC) was later added after the instrument Preliminary Design Review (PDR) to mitigate the threat of undetected gain glitches, not for thermal-stability reasons. Gain glitches are common problems with radiometers during missions, and one simple way to avoid gain glitches is to use the in-flight set point programmability that ATC affords to operate the radiometer component away from the problematic temperature zone. A simple ThermXL model (10 nodes) was developed to exercise quick trade studies among various proposed control algorithms: Modified P control vs. PI control. The ThermXL results were then compared with the detailed Thermal Desktop (TD) model for corroboration. Once done, the simple ThermXL model was used to evaluate parameter effects such as temperature digitization, heater size and gain margin, time step, and voltage variation of power supply on the ATC performance. A Modified P control algorithm was implemented into the instrument flight electronics based on the ThermXL results. The thermal short-term stability margin decreased by 10 percent with ATC and a wide temperature error band (plus or minus 0.1 degrees Centigrade) compared to the original passive thermal design. However, a tighter temperature error band (plus or minus 0.1 degrees Centigrade) increased the thermal short-term stability margin by a factor of three over the passive thermal design. The current ATC design provides robust thermal control, tighter stability, and greater in-flight flexibility even though its implementation was prompted by non-thermal performance concerns.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
External Source(s)
Mikhaylov, Rebecca
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Kwack, Eug
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
French, Richard
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Dawson, Douglas
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Hoffman, Pamela
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
July 1, 2016
Publication Date
July 13, 2014
Subject Category
Fluid Mechanics And Thermodynamics
Instrumentation And Photography
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES)
Location: Tucson, AZ
Country: United States
Start Date: July 13, 2014
End Date: July 17, 2014
Sponsors: American Society of Mechanical Engineers, American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics, International Conference On Environmental Systems, Inc. (ICES), American Inst. of Chemical Engineers, Texas Tech Univ.
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