CubeSat for Natural-Hazard Estimation With Ionospheric Sciences (CNEWS): A Concept Development to Aid Tsunami Early Warning Systems

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Attila Komjathy1,2, Andrew Romero-Wolf1, Yu-ming Yang1, Richard B Langley2 and James H Foster3, (1)NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States, (2)University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada, (3)University of Hawaii, Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, Honolulu, HI, United States
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the University New Brunswick (Canada) and the University of Hawaii have developed a concept to provide open ocean tsunami wave height estimates using very accurate measurements of absolute total electron content (TEC) perturbations. Ionosphere-derived tsunami wave height estimates from our CubeSat for Natural-Hazard Estimation With Ionospheric Sciences (CNEWS) mission will refine the tsunami source energy calculation and improve the tsunami scale calculation for a localized region. As a secondary science objective, transmitting impulsive HF/VHF (10-40 MHz) transmissions through the ionosphere will provide in-situ geomagnetic disturbance measurements, which allow for discrimination between tsunami-induced signatures and space-weather-related fluctuations.

NASA has invested several millions of dollars in the development of a tsunami warning system based on geodetic measurements from ground-based GPS stations. Leveraging this investment by simultaneously using ionospheric measurement from this GPS network for the detection of tsunamis represents a significant step forward. GPS ionospheric imaging is limited, however, by the slowly changing satellite geometry and its weak absolute TEC resolution (about 3 TECU). It has also been shown that GPS ionospheric imaging alone cannot distinguish between space weather fluctuations and those due to natural hazards. The very precise ionospheric measurements generated by CNEWS are expected to provide a quasi-static image of tsunami ionospheric signatures that we will use in an advanced model inversion technique to estimate tsunami wave heights at 10 cm (one sigma) uncertainty. The geomagnetic field strength resolution is also a key constraint for discriminating between natural hazards and space weather effects. HF/VHF impulses can resolve absolute TEC measurements at the 0.02 TECU level and geomagnetic field strength may be measured at 50 nT resolution.