GAPMAP-0’s data scenes across four regions of the globe. Each scene is identified with the specific region on a map and the corresponding capture time. Credit: Grasp

BALTIMORE – Grasp Global’s instrument is monitoring atmospheric aerosols in orbit.

Grasp’s multi-angle, multispectral polarimeter, known as GAPMAP-0, was launched in April 2023 on an Austrian technology demonstration cubesat.

GAPMAP, the “only privately developed payload of its kind,” is retrieving atmospheric-composition products for air-quality applications, said Grasp CEO David Fuertes. “This progress validates our mission and serves as a guiding light for its future.”

Constellation Plans

Based on the instrument’s performance, Grasp is moving ahead with plans to establish a 10-satellite constellation by 2028.

Each cubesat will “surpass conventional space radiometers” by collecting data “with multiple viewing angles and polarization,” according to Grasp’s Jan. 12 news release. Scenes of Earth will be collected in four wavelengths, five viewing angles and three polarization states. The goal is to provide high-quality observations of atmospheric particulates, clouds and surface properties.

In 2022, French startup Grasp SAS acquired Baltimore-based AirPhoton to create a European and U.S. Earth-observation company.

Grasp provides software and remote-sensing services to the European Space Agency, the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites and others. The French Space Agency CNES has purchased GAPMAP-0 data.

Baltimore-based AirPhoton specializes in satellite payloads and in-situ ground and airborne instruments to measure particulates.

HARP Heritage

The GAPMAP instrument is based on technology developed by Vanderlei Martins, Grasp chief technology officer, and colleagues in Maryland. Martins was the principal investigator for NASA’s Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter (HARP) cubesat launched in 2019.

“Seeing our vision materialize is very gratifying, not only for current but also for the coming results,” Vanderlei said in a statement.

GAPMAP is housed with two other instruments in the three-unit Austrian Debris Detection Low Earth (orbit) Reconnoiter (ADLER 2) cubesat. ADLER 2 was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. ADLER 2 was developed and is being operated by the Austrian Space Forum, Spire Global and Findus Ventures GmbH.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...