December 5, 2014
The Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) has served the U.S. weather community for over 50 years. As DMSP approaches its end of life, it will be necessary to develop a solution to meet military weather imaging requirements. There have been several attempts to develop a follow-on program to DMSP. However, declining budgets for the US Department of Defense have resulted in the need to identify innovative, low-cost options to acquire multipoint weather observations. The previous solutions relied on very large, custom-designed space-based sensors to meet the complex requirements of multiple users such as operational weather, climate, and research. As imaging technologies have improved and small satellite opportunities have proliferated, it has become feasible to integrate commercially available technologies to create compact, low-cost solutions. The JHU/APL solution is a multi-spectral system that has the key channels needed to detect and characterize the highest priority phenomena related to operational weather support. The philosophy of the system is to keep the system very robust and simple by employing commercially available technology with no moving or scanning parts and no cryogenic cooling to provide a compact, very economical solution. Airborne tests of a prototype demonstrated the sensitivity of this system for estimating cloud phase and cloud-top altitude. Examples from an airborne collection in the continental US will be presented.
Dr. Michael Kelly is the Group Supervisor for the SRD Group in the Space Exploration Sector at JHU/APL.