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SOC shield2. Drivers and Trends for SOCD Research

2.4 Satellite Programs

The continuing sequence of operational earth observation satellites, coupled with developmental and international missions, produce numerous drivers, requirements, and opportunities for research to integrate the new instruments, even for duplicate replacement instruments. Research is required to ensure data quality and the integrity of the data time series. The figure below shows the anticipated national and international satellite launches and life expectancy for present and future satellites. Data from these satellites are utilized by the SOCD Science Teams to develop and provide products, services, and information to support informed decision making. The satellite launches drive a large portion of the satellite ocean remote sensing science requirements and priorities, particularly where there are operational continuity requirements. Necessarily, significant portions of the research and development must precede a satellite's launch in order to maximize the productivity of the satellite's limited life span.

 Satellite Launch Continuum
Figure2. Satellite Launch Continuum.

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2.4.1. Operational NOAA Satellites

With the advent of each new operational satellite mission, significant research and development is necessary to ensure proper continuity of operational data streams, continuity of data quality, and exploitation of new technology capabilities through improved parameter retrieval algorithms, operational implementation of new parameters, and the development and integration of new operational products. Each launch requires science support for initial system certifications, on-orbit calibration, and error characterization.

  • Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)
    The current GOES configuration requires two GOES satellites (East and West) to be operational at all times, achieved through on-orbit spares. Continuous efforts are required to maintain the operational vicarious in-situ calibrations. Significant new challenges have been posed by the latest series of GOES satellites (GOES-12 and subsequent satellites) due to changes in the spectral bands available for accomplishing the sea-surface temperature (SST) retrievals, the principal ocean parameter for these missions. The GOES missions provide enhanced temporal resolution for ocean observations. The SST Science Team is using this data to develop calibrated and validated algorithms for high temporal resolution sea surface temperature and aerosol over oceans.

    Geostationary Satellite (GOES) launch schedule and cover until 2015
    Figure 3. Geostationary Satellite (GOES) launch schedule and cover until 2015.
    • GOES-R GOES-R will be the next-generation GOES system. GOES-R preliminary design includes an Advanced Baseline Imager (ABS), the corollary to the current GOES Imager, and a Hyperspectral Environmental Suite Coastal Waters imager (HES-CW) to provide high spectral, spatial, and temporal resolution for coastal ocean color observations. The HES-CW imager will provide the first geostationary ocean color observations. This new capability will require significant research to address issues involved with retrieving ocean color observations from a geostationary orbit, a change from all previous observations taken from polar orbits. The HES-CW imager will also require significant research to fully exploit its hyperspectral capabilities for the coastal zone, as well as take advantage of the instruments higher spatial resolution.
  • Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (POES)
    At least two simultaneous POES missions, offset in time, provide observations with improved spatial resolution, with respect to GOES observations, of a given location at nominally the same time each day. Additionally, the POES missions provide coverage of the Polar Regions. As with the GOES missions, continuous efforts are required to maintain the operational vicarious in-situ calibrations. POES Satellite The inter-calibration between satellite instruments is necessary to provide consistent and well-characterized data to users. The only oceanic parameter measured by the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) instruments onboard current POES missions is SST. Aerosol (particles in the atmosphere) is also derived over ocean and provides and essential input in the SST and ocean color atmospheric correction algorithms.
    Figure 4. POES Satellite.
    POES satellites and orbits
    Figure 5. NOAA/ IJPS Polar Orbiting Satellite Schedule and orbits.
  • Initial Joint Polar-Orbiting Operational Satellite System (IJPS)
    The IJPS series of missions constitute a joint European/United States polar orbiting satellite system that, from the ocean remote sensing perspective, will supplement and continue the SST/Aerosol time series from the POES AVHRR. The IJPS data will provide enhanced resolution SST products. IJPS will also include the Advanced Scatterometer (ASCAT) which will provide, for the first time, an operational scatterometer for measuring ocean surface winds. As operational missions, continuous efforts are required to maintain the operational vicarious in-situ calibrations, as well as inter-calibrate with the existing POES AVHRR instruments.
  • National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS)
    NPOESS will be the next-generation POES system. NPOESS is a joint NOAA - Department of Defense - NASA effort, coordinated through the Integrated Program Office (IPO). The mission combines civil and military programs, POES and the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), into a single program. NPOESS is being designed to deploy a completely new set of instrumentation, including some with currently unrefined science. The ocean remote sensing instruments include the Visible Infrared Imager / Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), for multispectral observations of ocean color and sea-surface temperature, and the Conical Scanning Microwave Imager/Sounder (CMIS), for measuring ocean surface vector winds using passive polarimetry, an in-progress and untested new technology. Passive polarimetry also provides a potential capability for operational ice detection in support of the National Ice Center (NIC) mission, augmenting visible imagery, especially in persistently cloudy regions. NPOESS planning also currently includes an altimeter on one of the missions to determine sea-surface heights for measurements of ocean dynamic features, ocean climate variability, and global mean sea-level rise.
    • NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP)
      The NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) is a joint mission involving the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) and the NPOESS Integrated Program Office (IPO). NPP provides risk reduction through the demonstration and validation of new instruments and parameter retrieval algorithms, as well as aspects of the NPOESS command, control, communications and ground processing capabilities prior to the launch of the first NPOESS spacecraft. Additional risk reduction is being achieved through science teams that are developing simulated data and experimental products. NPP will also serve as a continuity mission for the POES, acting as a transition to NPOESS.
  • Jason-2
    Jason-2 will provide operational continuity of the TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1 exact-repeat-orbit altimetry missions for the measurement of sea- surface height in support of assessments of ocean dynamics, climate variability, and climate change. Jason-2 is a joint U.S.-European satellite program that partners NOAA, NASA, the French Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT). Research support for NOAA's operational responsibilities include developing operational monitoring, quality assurance, and improving calibrations for the altimetry data.

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2.4.2. Non-NOAA Operational Satellites

NOAA develops partnerships with other national and international satellite agencies to share and acquire data to augment operational capabilities and capacities. This sharing creates the initial framework for an integrated Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS). International satellite data provide access to infrastructure investments, capabilities, and expertise not currently available through the U.S. domestic programs. Research support is required for proper integration of these data streams with NOAA's operational data streams and for the development of applications and products.

  • Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP)
    The ocean remote sensing instruments on the DMSP satellites include the Optical Linescan System (OLS), for visible and infrared measurements, and the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I), for passive microwave measurements. Ocean-related applications for these instruments include observations of sea ice extent, ice edge, sea-surface temperature, as well as ancillary observations needed for retrievals of these measurements, such as clouds.
    ENVISAT is a sun-synchronous European satellite that provides ocean remote sensing data useful to U.S. operational needs. Relevant instruments include: the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) for ocean color observations; the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) for e.g. high resolution ocean surface winds, sea ice detection, oil spills; the Advanced Along Track Scanning Radiometer (AATSR) for potentially more precise SST/Aerosol, but with a limited spatial coverage; the Radar Altimeter (RA-2) for ocean topography (sea-surface height measurements) in support of ocean circulation, bathymetry, and marine geoid research.
    MTSAT is the newest Japanese geostationary satellite, comparable to the U.S. GOES missions. Research efforts are underway to explore SST/Aerosol retrievals from MTSAT Imager (which is similar to the GOES Imager) over the western Pacific Ocean and much of the Indian Ocean and integrate these data products into global geostationary satellite ocean remote sensing products to supplement the GOES domain.
  • METEOSAT Second Generation (MSG)
    The MSG missions are the European Space Agency's contribution to global geostationary coverage. Spectral channels of the MSG Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infra-Red Imager (SEVIRI) has an advanced set of spectral channels and superior radiometric performance compared to the heritage GOES Imager. Efforts are underway to explore SST/Aerosol over the eastern Atlantic Ocean and western Indian Ocean and integrate the MSG data products into global geostationary satellite ocean remote sensing products, and to explore the MSG/SEVIRI data for the risk reduction activities for the GOES-R/ABI sensor.
    RADARSAT-1 is a Canadian Space Agency (CSA) polar-orbiting satellite equipped with C-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR). This satellite's orbit has a 24-day repeat cycle. The U.S currently receives SAR data from 15.82% of the on-time of RADARSAT-1 through an MOU with CSA and NASA (NASA provided the launch for RADARSAT-1). This data supports the National Ice Center and applications demonstrations (such as the Alaska SAR Demonstration) within SOCD. These data provide a variety of operational and developmental products, such as sea and river ice detection, wind, oil spill detection, flooding detection, and vessel detection, directly supporting safe commerce and transportation, fisheries management, and weather and water analyses. RADARSAT-2 is a follow-on mission, but is completely commercial.

With the increasing integration of Earth observing satellite systems, the use of other international operational data is being explored, e.g. Indian National Satellite (INSAT-2E), with its Very-High Resolution Radiometer (VHRR), and the Chinese FY-2 geostationary satellite program, with its Visible and Infrared Spin-Scan Radiometer (VISSR).

Data, algorithms, and images presented on STAR websites are intended for experimental use only and are not supported on an operational basis.  More information

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