92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012: 11:45 AM
Operationalizing a Research Sensor: MODIS to VIIRS
Room 343/344 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Jeffery J. Puschell, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, El Segundo, CA; and K. D. Grant and D. C. Smith

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are jointly acquiring the next-generation civilian weather and environmental satellite system: the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS). The Joint Polar Satellite System will contribute the afternoon orbit component and ground processing system of the restructured National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS). As such, the Joint Polar Satellite System replaces the current Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites (POES) managed by NOAA and the ground processing component of both POES and the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) replacement, known as the Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS), managed by the Department of Defense (DoD). The Joint Polar Satellite System satellite will carry a suite of sensors designed to collect meteorological, oceanographic, climatological, and solar-geophysical observations of the earth, atmosphere, and space. The primary sensor for both NPP and JPSS missions is the Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) developed by Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems (SAS). The ground processing system for both the NPP and JPSS missions is known as the Common Ground System (JPSS CGS), and consists primarily of a Command, Control, and Communications Segment (C3S) and the Interface Data Processing Segment (IDPS) which are both developed by Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems (IIS).

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) was developed by Raytheon SAS for the NASA Earth Observing System (EOS) as a research instrument to capture data in 36 spectral bands, ranging in wavelength from 0.4 µm to 14.4 µm and at varying spatial resolutions (2 bands at 250 m, 5 bands at 500 m and 29 bands at 1 km). MODIS data provides unprecedented insight into large-scale Earth system science questions related to cloud and aerosol characteristics, surface emissivity and processes occurring in the oceans, on land, and in the lower atmosphere. MODIS has flown on the EOS Terra satellite since 1999 and on the EOS Aqua satellite since 2002 and provided excellent data for scientific research and operational use for more than a decade. The value of MODIS-derived products for operational environmental monitoring motivated development of an operational counterpart to MODIS for the next-generation polar-orbiting environmental satellites, the Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), now in production at SAS. VIIRS will combine the demonstrated high-value spectral coverage and radiometric accuracy of MODIS with the legacy spectral bands and radiometric accuracy of the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) currently being flown on the NOAA polar orbiters and the high spatial resolution (0.75 km) of the Operational Linescan System (OLS) flown on Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites. Except for MODIS bands designed for deriving vertical temperature and humidity structure in the atmosphere, VIIRS uses identical or very similar bands from MODIS that have the most interest and usefulness to operational customers in NOAA, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy.

The development of VIIRS and JPSS reaps the benefit of substantial US investment in MODIS and the NASA EOS and the early development of operational algorithms by NOAA and DoD using MODIS data. This presentation will cover the different aspects of transitioning a research system into an operational system (aka, ‘operationalizing'). These aspects include: (1) sensor (hardware & software) operationalization, (2) system performance operational factors, (3) science changes to algorithms reflecting the operational performance factors, and (4) the operationalization and incorporation of the science into a fully 24 x 7 production system, tasked with meeting stringent operational needs. Benefits of early operationalization are discussed along with suggested areas for improvement in this process that could benefit future work such as operationalizing Earth Science Decadal Survey missions.

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