5.4 Space Environmental Awareness 2017–2032: 15-Year Research Plans and Rationale

Tuesday, 9 January 2018: 2:15 PM
Salon J (Hilton) (Austin, Texas)
Christoph R. Englert, NRL, Washington, DC; and T. R. Caudill

The 15-year vision of the DOD Space Environmental Awareness research program is to provide the necessary stream of accurate, reliable and cost-effective data products - decision aids and planning tools - needed to empower robust warfighter use and knowledge about space assets that are critical for global, distributed operations on land and sea, in air and in space. These products will recognize space as a potential domain of conflict, towards the central goal of ensuring the necessary margin of joint technical superiority in the space domain.

Background. The joint warfighter is confronting new threats and employing new space-based capabilities that demand accurate space environmental knowledge for planning, execution, and assessment. The threats include: near-peer adversaries; Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) strategies; cyber and spectrum warfare; and, counterspace. The capabilities include: tactical satellite operations underpinned by high-fidelity Space Situational Awareness (SSA); superior electronic warfare with agile spectrum awareness; and, counter-A2/AD strategies driven by knowledge, prediction, and control of radio Frequency (RF) sensor performance. The US and its allies will not be alone in pursuing an asymmetric advantage in space environmental knowledge and exploitation. At all echelons, the planning and employment systems for these capabilities rely upon trusted nowcast and forecast data products that are constructed from space environmental models and sensor data. This will require a new generation of affordable, capable sensors, models and dissemination infrastructure.

Models. To achieve this vision, a set of coordinated space environment models, which are focused on DOD needs, are required. These models should include: flexible data-assimilation, qualified to accept all applicable data, both validated and opportunistic; a forecasting system with sufficient representation of all relevant drivers and processes; model output which provides data to support end-user tools; and open architectures with a rapid update cycle for agile response to urgent as well as evolving DOD challenges, input data availability and readiness, and software and hardware technology advances.

Sensors. Deployment of optimal suites of sensors will be necessary to ensure accurate specification and forecast of the space environment. Attributes include:

[1] Measurement of the key parameters of neutral and ionized geospace with spatial and temporal resolution and coverage required for the DOD data products;

[2] Measurement of solar drivers for Solar Energetic Particles (SEPs) and space environment model input, including quiet and storm conditions;

[3] Affordability, including cost sharing and best-practices operational logistics;

[4] Utilization of leveraged sensing and other opportunistic data sources.

Products. Vision success is measured by validated products that actionably support the warfighter. Useful data-driven products, tailored to specific applications and readily available, will result from research to operations focus on: joint warfighter engagement; rapid adoption of new technology; coordination and collaboration with the civilian mission, with close integration where appropriate and independence when required; and, a culture of experimentation and red-teaming to maximize performance and minimize vulnerabilities.

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