The Multichannel Thermosphere-Ionosphere Photometer Scanner (MTIPS) instrument proposed here is a purpose-built CubeSat scale instrument designed to provide narrowband photometric measurements of excited atomic oxygen and molecular nitrogen species for targeted nightside, dayside, and auroral zone investigations of the thermosphere and ionosphere.
MTIPS provides simultaneous high-sensitivity Vacuum Ultra-Violet (VUV) photometer measurements of key atomic oxygen (135.6-nm) and molecular nitrogen Lyman-Birge-Hopfield (LBH) band emissions. MTIPS addresses the recommendation in the Decadal Survey for smaller CubeSat/SmallSat scale space missions by developing a low size, weight and power (SWAP), flight-ready VUV instrument capable of making nightside, dayside, and auroral zone measurements of the ionosphere and thermosphere.
MTIPS is an enabling technology for the development of Heliophysics constellation missions, due to its superior performance at a relatively low cost. The MTIPS notional design, comprised of elements with flight heritage, is a dual-channel photometer that implements prior flight technology developments in thin film reflective coatings, compact (CubeSat-scale) electronics packaging, and high heritage photometric detectors. Specifically, MTIPS benefits from prior design and flight of the USAF CubeSat Tiny Ionospheric Photometer (i.e. high sensitivity CsI-based detector, CubeSat-scale high-voltage and readout electronics) and advances in narrowband VUV-coated optics. Proposed here is the execution of a technology maturation plan via a series of rigorous tests and photometric evaluations in relevant thermal/vacuum, launch vibration, and pre-launch humidity environments. In doing so, we will bring the integrated MTIPS prototype to a TRL 6 status at the conclusion of 2 years with sufficient system engineering, safety, and mission assurance documentation to satisfy full readiness for operational mission integration.
MTIPS addresses the NRC 2012 Decadal Strategy for Solar and Space Physics for “small space missions”. MTIPS VUV observations provide future constellations with a low SWaP, low cost sensor for global, multi-point, thermospheric and ionospheric observations of key dayside, auroral, and nightside geophysical regimes.
The key parameters measured by MTIPs provide critical ionospheric, thermospheric and auroral space weather data. The auroral, ionospheric and thermospheric data provided by MTIPS makes it attractive to the US Air Force, US Navy, and the US Space Force. MTIPS obtains useful data from almost any Low Earth Orbit (LEO) mission. MTIPS is highly relevant to planetary exploration, and especially Mars.