MIRO (Microwave Instrument for the Rosetta Orbiter) is a lightweight, uncooled, dual-frequency heterodyne radiometer. The MIRO encountered asteroid Steins in 2008, and during the flyby, MIRO used the Asteroid Mode to measure the emission spectrum of Steins. The Asteroid Mode is one of the seven modes of the MIRO operation, and is designed to increase the length of time that a spectral line is in the MIRO pass-band during a flyby of an object. This software is used to calibrate the continuum measurement of Steins’ emission power during the asteroid flyby.

The MIRO raw measurement data need to be calibrated in order to obtain physically meaningful data. This software calibrates the MIRO raw measurements in digital units to the brightness temperature in Kelvin. The software uses two calibration sequences that are included in the Asteroid Mode. One sequence is at the beginning of the mode, and the other at the end. The first six frames contain the measurement of a cold calibration target, while the last six frames measure a warm calibration target. The targets have known temperatures and are used to provide reference power and gain, which can be used to convert MIRO measurements into brightness temperature.

The software was developed to calibrate MIRO continuum measurements from Asteroid Mode. The software determines the relationship between the raw digital unit measured by MIRO and the equivalent brightness temperature by analyzing data from calibration frames. The found relationship is applied to non-calibration frames, which are the measurements of an object of interest such as asteroids and other planetary objects that MIRO encounters during its operation.

This software characterizes the gain fluctuations statistically and determines which method to estimate gain between calibration frames. For example, if the fluctuation is lower than a statistically significant level, the averaging method is used to estimate the gain between the calibration frames. If the fluctuation is found to be statistically significant, a linear interpolation of gain and reference power is used to estimate the gain between the calibration frames.

This work was done by Seungwon Lee of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The software used in this innovation is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Daniel Broderick of the California Institute of Technology at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Refer to NPO-47075.

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
MIRO Continuum Calibration for Asteroid Mode

(reference NPO-47075) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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This article first appeared in the April, 2011 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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