7.1 Weather Satellite Follow-On – Microwave (WSF-M) Design And Predicted Performance

Tuesday, 14 January 2020: 3:00 PM
203 (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
David Newell, Ball Aerospace, Boulder, CO


David Newell, David Draper, Quinn Remund, Brian Woods, Bill Bensler, Dan Miller, Ken Eastman

Ball Aerospace, Boulder, Colorado, USA


An overview of the Weather System Follow-on – Microwave (WSF-M) Mission is given. The design of the mission and the predicted top-level performance is presented. A summary of the ground system, space vehicle and the microwave imager is given. The status, including the status of prototype hardware builds, is given.

Index TermsWeather Mission, Satellite Mission, Microwave Radiometer, Ocean Surface Vector Winds

  1. Introduction

Ball Aerospace (Ball) is under a contract with the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) to provide the Weather System Follow-on – Microwave (WSF-M) Mission. As Mission Prime, Ball is responsible for delivering Environmental Data Record (EDR)-level performance for Ocean Surface Vector Winds (OSVW), Tropical Cyclone Intensity (TCI), Soil Moisture, Snow Depth, and Sea Ice Characterization, as well as providing Imagery products. The Ball WSF-M mission design provides the next-generation environmental satellite system for the Department of Defense (DoD) following the successes of Ball’s civil weather systems: Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP), Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)-1, and the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Microwave Imager (GMI) sensor. This paper presents an overview of the mission, the predicted performance, provides details on the instrument and spacecraft design, planned hardware demonstrations, and gives current status.


WSF-M is a Department of Defense (DoD) operational, low earth orbit (LEO), environmental satellite system that provides continuous space-based sensing of the terrestrial environment. Terrestrial sensing is currently provided by the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) and WindSat. The Space Segment consists of a LEO spacecraft bus and two payloads. The primary payload is a Microwave Imager (MWI) sensor that takes calibrated passive radiometric measurements at multiple microwave frequencies to enable derivation of Ocean Surface Vector Winds (OSVW), Tropical Cyclone Intensity (TCI) and additional EDRs. In addition, the government-provided Energetic Charged Particle (ECP) sensor provides in-situ space weather measurements to enable derivation of ECP flux and warnings. Both payloads provide sensor data to the spacecraft for combination with spacecraft telemetry to form the mission data which is downlinked to the ground system.

Mission data is downlinked to the Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN) for routing to the Enterprise Ground Services (EGS) Data Operations Center where it is processed to separate the MWI and ECP data. The microwave instrument mission data is distributed to the Air Force’s Air Combat Command (ACC) 557th Weather Wing (WW), and to the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center (FNMOC). The weather centrals use the Ball developed algorithms to process the mission data into Temperature Data Record (TDR), Sensor Data Records (SDR) and EDR products meeting the required performance. The EGS Operations Center processes the raw ECP data into products that support host satellite anomaly resolution, and state of health trending and analysis.

In addition, WSF-M broadcasts Real-Time Data (RTD), including all ancillary data needed to process the real-time data, directly to equipped Department of Defense (DoD) direct readout sites that use the Ball-developed algorithms to produce EDR mission products. Space vehicle telemetry is downlinked from the spacecraft and relayed to the EGS Operations Center where they are used to monitor spacecraft and instrument status. Mission Telemetry, Tracking & Command (TT&C) Services are provided by the ground system.

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