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.