Press release

NASA Flies Cubic’s Nuvotronics Wide-Band Antenna

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Cubic Corporation (NYSE:CUB) today announced Nuvotronics, operating within its Cubic Mission Solutions (CMS) business division, provided advanced multi-frequency antenna technology to enable the successful validation of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s (NASA-GSFC) Snow Water Equivalent Synthetic Aperture Radar and Radiometer (SWESARR).

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Rendering of SWESARR multi-band feed and 0.34-meter reflector dish (Left). DHC-6 Twin Otter carrying the SWESARR instrument during the February SnowEx 2020 flight campaign (Right). Image Credits NASA Goddard.

Rendering of SWESARR multi-band feed and 0.34-meter reflector dish (Left). DHC-6 Twin Otter carrying the SWESARR instrument during the February SnowEx 2020 flight campaign (Right). Image Credits NASA Goddard.

Snow is critical to Earth’s ecosystem. It reflects sunlight back to space, insulates Earth’s surface and delivers life sustaining water by means of snowmelt. Currently, NASA does not have a global high-resolution satellite mission to track and study the amount of water contained in snow, known as Snow Water Equivalent (SWE). To cost effectively meet this gap, NASA scientists need innovative airborne instruments to overcome challenges of differing terrains, depth and melt conditions.

In winter 2019–2020, Nuvotronics provided wide-band multi-frequency antenna technology for use in an airborne data validation study for the SWESARR instrument during the NASA SnowEx campaign. The study collected ground measurements at multiple locations and analogous airborne measurements using a DHC-6 Twin Otter Aircraft operated by the Naval Postgraduate School’s (NPS) Center for Interdisciplinary Remotely Piloted Aircraft Studies (CIRPAS). Nuvotronics’ microwave antenna technology enabled SWESARR to operate over six frequency bands from a single antenna aperture, ensuring overlapping measurements. Multi-frequency operation increases the quality of data collected, at a lower cost. Nuvotronics’ technology collected natural radiation coming from layers of snow, providing information that is combined with active radar data to infer the volume of water held in snowpack.

Nuvotronics’ specific contributions include a X-Ka Band 11×12 element line array and a X-W band Vivaldi array demonstrator. NASA-GSFC integrated the X-Ka band array with a 0.34-meter reflector and a Ka band digital beamforming back-end into the airborne instrument on an active roll compensation platform developed by another partner company. Nuvotronics’ PolyStrata® technology enabled seamless integration, rich data collection and excellent noise performance in a compact radiometer.

“We are proud of the part we played in NASA’s mission to remotely measure Snow Water Equivalent, which is critical for water resource management and climate studies,” said Martin Amen, vice president and general manager of Cubic Nuvotronics. “Our participation demonstrates how our highly innovative technology has enabled next-generation, multi-band radiometry instrumentation to support the measurement of precipitation rate; integrated water vapor; cloud liquid water and ice; ocean surface wind speed; snow water equivalent; sea ice concentration; and land surface temperature, which has never been done before. This also proves the air platform worthiness of PolyStrata enabled advanced systems.”

“We are thrilled with the exceptional results,” said Mike Twyman, president of Cubic Mission Solutions. “The achievement of these critical milestones demonstrates our ability to leverage PolyStrata technology to build wide-band phased arrays from X to W band.”

Nuvotronics is continuing its efforts to advance NASA’s next-generation instruments to track SWE. This milestone and successful airborne demonstration of capability is a key feedback point.

SWESARR is developed through NASA Earth Science Technology Office (ESTO) Instrument Incubator Program (IIP) and Goddard’s Internal Research and Development Program. Funding for SnowEx flights were provided by the NASA Terrestrial Hydrology Program.

About Cubic Corporation

Cubic is a technology-driven, market-leading provider of integrated solutions that increase situational understanding for transportation, defense C4ISR, and training customers worldwide to decrease urban congestion and improve the militaries’ effectiveness and operational readiness. Our teams innovate to make a positive difference in people’s lives. We simplify their daily journeys. We promote mission success and safety for those who serve their nation. For more information about Cubic, please visit the company’s website at or on Twitter @CubicCorp.