Monday, 15 January 2007: 5:00 PM
The role of the Molniya Orbit Imager in the Global Observing System
217A (Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center)
One of the most important shortcomings of the imagers flying in the classical geostationary orbit in the Earth's equatorial plane (e.g. on the GOES platforms) is their lack of global coverage. Due to the poor viewing geometry, no useful data are obtained poleward of 55-60 degrees of latitude. From an end-user perspective, one of the most serious consequences of this is the complete lack of high-latitude satellite wind observations. One way to address this shortcoming of the Global Observing System is to exploit the high-latitude imaging capabilities of the so-called Molniya orbit, a highly eccentric, highly inclined orbit in which the spacecraft for extended periods of time functions like a quasi-geostationary platform hovering over the high latitudes. The Molniya Orbit Imager - a proposal to deploy a GOES-like imager in this orbit - has been under development at the Goddard Space Flight Center since March 2004. The main mission goal is to demonstrate the feasibility of extending geostationary-type imaging and derived products – satellite winds in particular - to the entire globe via a small constellation of Molniya orbiting satellites. The current status of the mission proposal will be reviewed, and special emphasis will be placed on end user applications and on the synergy between the Molniya orbit and the existing satellite systems in sun-synchronous and geostationary orbits.