Swinyard, B., Auriacombe, O., Bradshaw, T., Brooks, D., Charlton, J., Crook, M., Davies, G., Ellison, B., Emes, M., Friend, J., Gerber, D., Gray, C., Henry, M., Hunt, T., Linfield, E., Navarathinam, N., Parks, S., Rawlings, T., Rea, S., Saunders, C., Savini, G., Tun, S.M., Walker, D.D., Wang, H. and Winter, B. (2016) The LOw Cost Upper atmosphere Sounder: the "Elegant Breadboard" programme. In: Millimeter Waves and THz Technology Workshop.

The LOw Cost Upper atmosphere Sounder (LOCUS) mission has a core objective of probing the Earths meso-sphere and low thermosphere (MLT) region using THz receivers combined with an infrared (IR) filter radiometer. This will give the first comprehensive data on the energy balance and chemical processes in the MLT from direct detection, including the important atomic oxygen which until now has never been mapped by remote sensing measurements. The payload and mission design concept has very recently, and very successfully, concluded an ESA sponsored phase A0 study, led by SSTL. It is essential to build upon this success and to maintain the mission momentum towards achieving a high readiness level (TRL) and eventual flight. A key step in this process is the demonstration and proof of operation of the THz payload in a representative environment (towards TRL 6). We therefore have begun working on a hi-fidelity breadboard of the LOCUS payload suitable for both extensive laboratory and environmental testing, and with a potential for deployment on a high-altitude platform, such as NASAs Global Hawk. The latter will prove the system technical operation in a closely representative environment, and will return valuable and useful scientific data. The breadboard will consist of the system primary antenna; optical bench; one or more THz receivers; back-end electronics, and a physical realisation of the spacecraft payload bay. An extensive test programme will be undertaken to raise the payload and receiver system towards level 6, and we will seek opportunities to test the system in an observational campaign.