717 Future Architecture Decision Points

Tuesday, 9 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Frank W. Gallagher III, NESDIS, Silver Spring, MD; and K. St. Germain and M. W. Maier

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has conducted a study, the NOAA Satellite Observing System Architecture (NSOSA) study, to plan for the next generation of weather satellites following the GOES-R and JPSS series of operational satellites. This study has been used, and will continue to be used, as a basis for informed decision making by NOAA Leadership. Before any specific architecture can be chosen as “the future NOAA architecture”, several major strategic questions need to be answered. Among them include 1) whether there is a compelling reason to move away from the current assignment of instruments to orbits to some new “radical alternative”, 2) whether additional orbits would have high value for inclusion in a future architecture, and 3) whether there is a strict requirement to maintain current instruments (and specific types of measurements) to current orbits. Each of these questions will be addressed in terms of various architecture implementations and the ramification of perusing a particular course of action based on each decision.

The answer to the first question would provide guidance to the overall makeup of the constellation by determining if a radical change to the current collection architecture is warranted. The alternatives, which are not orthogonal or exclusive, generally fall into three categories:

  • Extending real-time weather imagery coverage to the whole globe, or, at least, most of the globe.
  • Greatly increasing the temporal and/or spatial resolution of global radiance collection (1 hour and 1 km, for example).
  • Collecting data in a strongly adaptive means where resolution in space and time is directly related to model uncertainties and local rate and scale of change.

Coupled to this is the potential of moving away from an architecture dominated by a few, large, expensive satellites (e.g., the current GOES-R and JPSS satellites) that have a slow technological rate of change to something more distributed and agile. The most revolutionary change would link such a change in the physical and programmatic architecture of the satellites to a change to the fundamental collection approach, as in the three points given above.

The answer to the second question would address whether the incorporation of new orbits would be beneficial as an addition to the current sun-synchronous polar and geostationary orbits. These new orbits would provide a currently unavailable geometry for collecting real time imagery and radiances over portions of the earth that are currently not operationally covered by such capabilities. The Tundra orbit will be examined for this new capability.

The answer to the third question would decide the nature of how NOAA constructs the future constellation of environmental satellites. NOAA can either ensure that existing capability be strictly maintained or whether some current measurements can be traded for a potentially higher cost-value collection. Examples of possible trade-offs will be given for a particular constellation cost.

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