JPL DESCANSO - Deep Space Communications and Navigation Center of Excellence



M. Michael Kobayashi

Mr. Kobayashi received a B.S. in electrical engineering in 2006, and subsequently an M.S. in electrical and computer engineering in 2007, both from the University of California at Irvine. He joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 2007 as an RF/Microwave Engineer, working on flight microwave assemblies for radar applications, including the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) landing radar, and the Soil Moisture Active and Passive (SMAP) radar transmitter.

Since 2013, he has been involved in software defined radio developments, including the Iris Deep-Space Transponder and the Universal Space Transponder (UST). The Iris Transponder was further developed and delivered as the flight transponder for each Mars Cube One (MarCO) CubeSat spacecraft.

After MarCO, Iris was further upgraded for Artemis-1 Secondary Payload CubeSat missions such as Lunar Flashlight, Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, BioSentinel, Lunar IceCube, LunaH Map, CubeSat for Space Particles, and ArgoMoon. Launch of Artemis-1 with the CubeSats is planned for late 2021. Past and present, the Iris Transponder has already supported a variety of nearly 20 missions.

In 2019, Mr. Kobayashi received the NASA Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal for the development and technology transfer of the Iris deep space transponders for MarCO and Artemis-1, which has enabled the first CubeSats to deep space.

Mr. Kobayashi now serves as the Payload Telecom System Engineer for the Earth-orbiting NASA and ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NASA-ISRO SAR [NISAR]) mission, which has an extremely large downlink data volume requirement of 35 Tbits per day. The Universal Space Transponder Ka-band Modulator was designed and delivered to NISAR to support a high-rate 4 Gbps Ka-band transmission to the Near Earth Network (NEN) stations. He also serves as the radio cognizant engineer, responsible for the delivery of X-band transponders and ultra high frequency (UHF) transceivers for the upcoming multi-mission Mars Sample Return Campaign using the next-generation UST radios. His research interests are in the development of advanced-capability software defined radios and he continues his key role in the development of the UST-Lite, a miniaturized high-capability version of the UST.

In addition to the technical roles, Mr. Kobayashi serves as the Technical Group Supervisor of the Communications System Engineering Group within the Flight Communication Section at JPL, leading a group of highly-skilled engineers specializing in telecom systems for deep-space and near-Earth missions as well as formulation of novel communication systems and applications.

Co-Author of the following article of the DESCANSO Design & Performance Summary Series - Telecommunications: