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.
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.
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. 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
Figure 4. POES Satellite.
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
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 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
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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
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).