Techology Maturation Program: List of Projects

 

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Project Name: 3D Winds with track and European Space Agency (ESA) Aeolus

Project ID: TMP 18-01

Project Partners: NOAA/AOML - Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory

Description: Knowing the wind speed and direction is critical for weather forecasting. The challenge is not just at the ground level, but throughout the whole atmosphere, at all altitudes worldwide. NOAA has a lot of wind measurements on the ground. Upper air wind speed can be inferred from satellites watching cloud motion. Now we have a new capability, the ADM/Aeolus satellite, capable of measuring clear air wind speed worldwide. This effort will help NOAA learn how to get the maximum possible value from this data.

Project Name: Project Management

Project ID: TMP 18-02

Project Partners: NOAA/STAR - Center for Satellite Applications and Research

Description: This is a special task focused on tracking all other TMP activities and ensuring timely and accurate submission of required reports, etc.

Project Name: Accelerate Data Assimilation

Project ID: TMP 18-03

Project Partners: NOAA/STAR - Center for Satellite Applications and Research

Description: Most of NOAA’s big new satellites need over ten years to develop. This gives scientists a lot of time to plan for the new data and a lot of time for the National Weather Service to get ready. Since new satellites would be in service for well over ten years, this model worked for NOAA. Today, as technology enables smaller, faster and lower cost satellites, the satellites are designed to be frequently upgraded. A single satellite won’t replace a large one, but a group of satellites may be a superior solution. With many small and rapidly improving satellites, there is less time to get ready for new data. Also, commercial, international and NASA satellites are being launched frequently, some of which are useful to NOAA. If NOAA is to use these data, a much faster adoption process is required. This effort will streamline the NOAA process of adopting new satellite data.

Project Name: Radio Occultation (RO) Data Optimization

Project ID: TMP 18-04

Project Partners: NOAA/AOML - Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory

Description: One of the newest types of observation obtained by satellites is called Radio Occultation (RO), a technique of observing how radio waves from GPS satellites behave as they go through Earth’s atmosphere. NOAA has found RO data to be very useful, but our understanding of the potential is still limited. This effort will explore novel approaches to use this very important data, to derive even greater value from the data. Specifically, the question of how to get useful RO data in the very lowest layers in the atmosphere, an area previously found to be too difficult to process. If successful, NOAA and our partners will be able to derive significantly more value from these existing and planned systems.

Project Name: Enable Short-wavelength infrared (SW-IR) and Medium-Wavelength infrared (MW-IR) data use

Project ID: TMP 18-05

Project Partners: NOAA/STAR - Center for Satellite Applications and Research

Description: Satellite-based Infrared (IR) data is very important for weather forecasting. It is one of the most valuable observations. IR data is split into three regions, shortwave (SW), midwave (MW) and longwave (LW). The LW is used for most weather forecasting, as it is the easiest to process. But, it is the most expensive and difficult to obtain. Now, scientists think they can adequately process the SW and MW data to provide forecast benefits like the LW data. The data processing will be somewhat harder, but the cost and complexity of the satellite for SW and MW will be much simpler and less expensive. If this works, cubesat-based SW and MW IR data can replace existing very large, expensive and complicated satellite instruments.

Project Name: Low Latency Impact Assessment Observing System Simulation Experiment (OSSE)

Project ID: TMP 18-06

Project Partners: NOAA/AOML Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory
NOAA/STAR - Center for Satellite Applications and Research
Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMSS)

Description: Today, we can share data around the world in seconds, viewing web pages, watching videos, and enjoying phone chats from very remote areas of the world. Yet for satellites, most data delivery is really slow, like maybe an hour or more. When we have to wait for the satellite to reach a ground station, vital weather data is getting older and older. Now that companies are planning to put the internet into satellites, it opens the enticing possibility of using their internet service to deliver data quickly and inexpensively. This study will consider the importance of fast data delivery on NOAA’s services. The more important fast data is, the quicker NOAA might want to prioritize fast delivery of satellite data. This study looks at the importance, while other studies can determine the best options.

Project Name: Assessing Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation (TROPICS) value to Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP)

Project ID: TMP 18-07

Project Partners: NOAA/AOML Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory
NOAA/STAR - Center for Satellite Applications and Research

Description: NASA’s new research satellite mission, the Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS), has a research goal of improving our understanding of hurricane formation. TROPICS is a constellation of twelve cubesats, each collecting some data very similar to NOAA’s big JPSS satellite. With twelve satellites, this offers NOAA the ability to study whether twelve additional satellites can improve the weather forecast. We may learn Yes, No, or that the weather model does not know how to effectively use this much data. Whatever the answer, this work will help NOAA intelligently plan for the future.

Project Name: Evaluation of CubeSat Solutions to Nocturnal Low-Light Visible Observations

Project ID: TMP 18-08

Project Partners: CSU/CIRA - Colorado State University/Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere
Aerospace Corporation, Inc.

Description: You may have seen the cool satellite photos of nighttime lights, showing cities around the world lit up at night. NOAA has learned that these photos are more than interesting, they are very important, especially for Alaska’s long nights. NOAA can monitor cloud motion from these at-night pictures and learn a lot about coming weather. But, that discovery was a surprise. We are only beginning to understand how to use this data. Plus, today, the data is limited. NOAA wants to learn more ways to use this data and learn whether additional observations can be taken from cubesats. This will help NOAA do optimal planning for our future satellites.

Project Name: Exploit Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) sensor

Project ID: TMP 18-09

Project Partners: NOAA/STAR - Center for Satellite Applications and Research
Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMSS)

Description: NOAA is very lucky to have great European partners. For many years, we have shared our satellite data, recognizing that it is not feasible for anyone to do everything. So, the Europeans launched a new satellite in 2017, the TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI), that collects a lot of information about Earth’s atmosphere. TROPOMI monitors a lot of the trace gases in the atmosphere, like Ozone and Methane. NOAA needs this data too. Thanks to the Europeans, the data is free. This effort will work to determine how to best access and use this free data to benefit the United States.

Project Name: Exploit Near Space Data [Explore Near-Space Observations (Project Loon data - balloon-based internet provider)]

Project ID: TMP 18-10

Project Partners: NOAA/STAR - Center for Satellite Applications and Research

Description: Several companies are exploring the potential for stratospheric balloons, to provide internet service. They may also provide a good platform to observe the Earth. These balloons stay up for months at an altitude of about 60,000 feet (above regular airline routes). An advantage of the balloons is their ability to land, so that instruments can be recovered, repaired and relaunched. This study will seek good opportunities for NOAA to partner with these companies for instrument hosting or other services (maybe data relay). An alternative is the satellite internet constellations, flying about 250 miles high. But, these systems burn up on reentry, so there is no recovery.

Project Name: Hosted Payloads Study

Project ID: TMP 18-11

Project Partners: NOAA/STAR - Center for Satellite Applications and Research

Description: Some of NOAA’s satellite instruments are big and heavy. These instruments are placed into geostationary orbit, over 22,000 miles high. For these instruments to see any detail on the Earth, they require large and heavy telescopes. So far, there is no way to make these systems small and light. One alternative to NOAA building satellites, is to rent space on somebody else's satellite. There are lots of big communications satellites in geostationary orbit with plenty of power. But, NOAA needs a prime spot to observe the Earth and the satellite cannot interfere with NOAA’s instrument. What seems to be easy has proven to be very hard. This study will take another look.

Project Name: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning

Project ID: TMP 18-12

Project Partners: NOAA/STAR - Center for Satellite Applications and Research

Description: Artificial intelligence (AI) is doing amazing feats today, including challenging doctors to make the right diagnosis. If AI can do medicine, maybe it can help with the weather. NOAA has wonderful highly skilled forecasters and some of the best weather prediction models in the world. But, it seems to be the right time to leverage the power of today’s machines to spot patterns quickly and draw connections that might elude human experts. If machines can issues alerts, a human expert can review the facts, potentially saving lives from faster and better watches and warnings.

Project Name: Technology Survey

Project ID: TMP 18-13

Project Partners: NOAA/STAR - Center for Satellite Applications and Research

Description: The innovation enterprise in the USA and around the world produces incredible innovations. While NOAA technologists work hard to keep touch on the latest innovations from NASA, there is always a risk of missing something important. Occasionally, we learn of exciting work years after the work has started. This survey is intended to be more methodical, and look in places that NOAA technologists may have missed. If one discovery can keep us from repeating some work that is already underway, the costs of this survey will be quickly recovered.

Project Name: Weather Forecasting in Virtual Reality

Project ID: TMP 18-14

Project Partners: NOAA/STAR - Center for Satellite Applications and Research

Description: Weather happens in four dimensions, up-down, right-left, front-back and time. Old (current) tools mostly show two dimensions, like a photograph compared to a one camera movie. If only, we could allow the forecaster to “live” in the weather, using a computer to “fly around” above, below and through weather as it evolves, it might provide unprecedented insights. Like a movie that keeps switching to where the action is best. Tremendous advanced have been made with in practical applications for immersive visualization. Now is the time to see if it can benefit weather forecasters. The primary benefits are likely to be in short term forecasting for severe weather, like tornadoes. This research will find out if virtual reality is useful to forecasters.

Project Name: Maturing Reflectometry Usefulness to the NOAA Observing System Portfolio (Case of Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System - CYGNSS) for Ocean Winds

Project ID: TMP 18-15

Project Partners: NOAA/STAR - Center for Satellite Applications and Research

Description: Scientists are amazing how they discover creative ways to learn new things. The Global Positioning System (GPS) has been a real benefit in so many ways. Now, scientists have learned that reflections of GPS signals off of the Earth’s oceans and surface can provide an amazing array of new information. This information is extremely costly and difficult to get using more brute force methods. So, this study will see if this reflected data can meet NOAA’s operational needs. Initial work will focus on ocean winds and contours. Later work will explore options over the land. This work leverages the NASA science mission Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS).

Project Name: Maturity of Reflectometry Phase Delay Altimetry

Project ID: TMP 18-16

Project Partners: NOAA/STAR - Center for Satellite Applications and Research

Description: Scientists are amazing how they discover creative ways to learn new things. The Global Positioning System (GPS) has been a real benefit in so many ways. Now, scientists have learned that reflections of GPS signals off of the Earth’s oceans and surface can provide an amazing array of new information. This information is extremely costly and difficult to get using more brute force methods. So, this study will see if this reflected data can meet NOAA’s operational needs. Initial work will focus on ocean winds and contours. Later work will explore options over the land. This differs from project #15 by using a different space instrument.

Project Name: Dual-band radar satellite altimeter instrument studies for sea ice and sea state

Project ID: TMP 18-17

Project Partners: NOAA/STAR - Center for Satellite Applications and Research

Description: In the past, satellite-based radars have been used to observe the oceans. These systems use the Ka and Ku radio bands. These are microwave frequecies ranging from 27 to 40 gigahertz and 12 to 18 gigahertz respectively. To put that into perspective, a microwave oven uses S (short) radio bands ranging between 2 and 4 gigahertz, and, because the frequency of S bands is so small, they can only transfer energy to the things they are directed towards without passing through those objects. Both Ka and Ku bands, however, collect somewhat different information. Scientists think that using both bands together can yield a much greater amount of information about the ocean state, ice, and snow depth. This study will test this idea by using data from the two types of satellites and testing those moments where the same spot is viewed at the same time. If successful, NOAA (and our partners) can consider a satellite with these combined capabilities.

Project Name: Exploiting Cubesat Ocean Color Data

Project ID: TMP 18-18

Project Partners: NOAA/STAR - Center for Satellite Applications and Research

Description: Scientists can learn a lot about the health of the oceans by observing the water color. Very specific colors can show areas with high plankton levels, often associated with healthy fisheries. Other colors offer other insights. These sensors can take second priority to vital weather forecasting instruments. With tight budgets, weather takes priority. Now the University of North Carolina-Wilmington is launching a small cubesat designed to collect ocean color data. This system is called SeaHawk and will provide sustained ocean color observations with nanosatellites (cubesats). In this study, NOAA will examine SeaHawk data to see if it meets NOAA’s data quality needs.

Project Name: Maturing the exploitation of satellite data from Tundra–like platforms

Project ID: TMP 18-19

Project Partners: NOAA/STAR - Center for Satellite Applications and Research

Description: Most NOAA satellites are either Low Earth Orbit (LEO) or Geostationary orbits (GEO). LEO satellites are constantly moving around the Earth and cannot watch evolving weather events. GEO satellites can watch evolving weather events, but cannot look at the far North and South areas. So, Alaska and the polar regions get spotty coverage. A Tundra orbit is an egg shaped orbit, where the satellite hovers most of the day looking at the polar regions. For a brief period each day, these satellite swoop down close to Earth before zooming back up. This intriguing orbit produces data that is not stable (like GEO), making data understanding hard. This study will see how hard Tundra data will be for NOAA to use.

Project Name: Advance Mid-wavelength Infrared (MWIR) maturity

Project ID: TMP-20

Project Partners: NASA/JPL - Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Description: One of NOAA’s most important weather observations is called InfraRed (IR) soundings. A “sounding” determines temperature and humidity conditions at different levels in the atmosphere. NOAA’s instrument that does this is called the Cross-track Infrared Sensor (CrIS), a very big, heavy and expensive instrument. By splitting CrIS into three parts: Shortwave, Mid-Wave and Longwave, engineering might be able to squeeze the needed performance out of cubesats. This study will look at putting the Shortwave IR performance in a cubesat.

Project Name: Advance Long-wavelength Infrared (LWIR) maturity

Project ID: TMP-21

Project Partners: NASA/JPL - Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Description: Of the three types of InfraRed (IR) satellite data, the longwave data is the most difficult to collect. The sensors need to be supercooled. So, these systems are hard. Even so, if we can get this capability into a cubesat (less than 100 lbs.), it can lead to a better solution for NOAA at lower cost. Being small, these satellites can be manufactured more quickly and launched much easier than the traditional billion dollar systems. This work is to determine if longwave IR can work in cubesats.

Project Name: Advance small microwave imager

Project ID: TMP-22

Project Partners: NASA/JPL - Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Description: Most of NOAA’s essential satellite instruments are very large, about the size of a small car. Amazing progress is being made to allow most of these instruments to be redesigned for cubesats, smaller than a microwave oven. However, one instrument does special microwave imaging and needs an antenna that is about six feet across. To make it harder, the antenna has to constantly spin around looking at different spots on the Earth. Various options will be explored to deal with the large spinning antenna. This effort is studying how to design this instrument and antenna to be about the size of a washing machine. If successful, NOAA will be able to dramatically cut the cost and weight.

Project Name: Light Detection & Ranging (LIDAR) Working Group

Project ID: TMP-23

Project Partners: NOAA/AOML - Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory

Description: Wind speed and direction, at all levels in the atmosphere and all around the world are a vital piece of information needed to forecast the weather. Scientists and engineers have been working for years trying to figure out how to get this information. A technique called LIght Detection And Ranging (LIDAR) holds promise. This effort ensures that NOAA stays well connected with the international LIDAR community. This is particularly important as Europe recently launched the first wind LIDAR satellite.

Project Name: Hosted Payload Tech. Demo [NASA GOLD]

Project ID: TMP-24

Project Partners: NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC)
Colorado State University/Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CSU CIRA)

Description: For years, NOAA has wanted the option of partnering with the commercial sector to “host” a NOAA instrument. Recently, NASA used a hosted payload for their Global Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) mission. This mission is potentially important for NOAA’s space weather mission area. So, this effort is aimed at learning more about hosted payloads and at the same time exploring whether data from this new satellite can adequately meet needs of NOAA forecasters.

Project Name: Design Study for Day-Night Band (DNB) smallsat

Project ID: TMP-25

Project Partners: Aerospace Corporation, Inc.

Description: NOAA has a nighttime lights (Day-Night Band) capability on our large Joint Polar Satellite System, as part of the large and expensive “VIIRS” instrument. Nighttime imaging is extremely important over Alaska and other Arctic areas. NOAA’s European partners have a VIIRS-like instrument, but it lacks the nighttime lights capability. So, this is an effort to prove that NOAA can get the needed nighttime light imaging from a low-cost cubesat. Cubesats have already done amazing nighttime imaging, so this effort is only to improve performance to meet NOAA needs.

Project Name: Solar Sail

Project ID: TMP-26

Project Partners: Dynamic Concepts, Inc (DCI), Huntsville, AL

Description: NOAA has an operational Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) responsible for advising airlines, power companies and others of anticipated solar events with a likelihood of impacting operations on the Earth. For this service, solar observations are taken from a location about 1 million miles from Earth. Stationkeeping (maintaining the right spot) can take a lot of fuel, but a solar sail can “sail” in the solar wind and dramatically cut fuel use. This study is assessing how that might work for NOAA’s future sun-watching spacecraft.



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