The Temporal Experiment for Storms and Tropical Systems – Demonstrator (TEMPEST-D) is about to reach an operational milestone of 18 months in space. A NASA Earth Ventures Instrument – 2 technology mission selection, the five channel microwave radiometer with frequencies from ranging from 87 to 181 GHz, represents a breakthrough in the science capabilities on a 6U CubeSat. The quality of the on-orbit data has been shown to be on par with that of operational instruments, which are flagship class and often require an order of magnitude more in resources. Currently in its extended mission, TEMPEST-D continues to contribute to the knowledge base through special maneuvers including full spacecraft rolls and yaws, for calibration and new observation geometries.
TEMPEST-D was the culmination in a long line of developments at JPL and elsewhere, including numerous subsystem technology investments, the massive improvement in CubeSat capabilities, and the continued evolution of commercial New Space. A key stepping stone was the Radiometer Atmospheric CubeSat Experiment (RACE) which was manifested on Cygnus CRS Orb-3 in 2014.