A Saturn Net Flux Radiometer (SNFR) is being developed as part of a payload for a future NASA-led Saturn Probe Mission. The current design has two spectral channels i.e., a solar channel (0.4-to-5 μm) and a thermal channel (4-to-50 μm). The SNFR is capable of viewing five distinct viewing angles during the descent. Non-imaging Winston cones with window and filter combinations define the spectral channels, each with a 5° field-of-view. Un - cooled thermopile detectors are used in each spectral channel and are read out using a custom-designed Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC). The SNFR measures the radiative energy anisotropies with altitude. In the solar channel, the downward flux will determine the solar energy deposition profile and the upward flux will yield information about cloud particle absorption and scattering. In the thermal channel, the net flux will define sources and sinks of planetary radiation. In conjunction with calculated gas and particulate opacities, these observations will determine the atmosphere’s radiative balance.

Presently, the focal plane array, ASIC front-end electronics, and software are being integrated. Comprehensive radiometric performance testing will follow.

This work was done by Shahid Aslam, Gerard Quilligan, Donald Jennings, and Edward Wollack of Goddard Space Flight Center. NASA is seeking partners to further develop this technology through joint cooperative research and development. For more information about this technology and to explore opportunities, please contact Scott Leonardi at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. GSC-17204-1


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the October, 2016 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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