High Data Rate Satellite Communications for Environmental Remote Sensing

Monday, 15 December 2014
John M Jackson, James Munger, Pamela G Emch, Bhaswar Sen and Degui Gu, Northrop Grumman Corporation Redondo Beach, Redondo Beach, CA, United States
Satellite to ground communication bandwidth limitations place constraints on current earth remote sensing instruments which limit the spatial and spectral resolution of data transmitted to the ground for processing. Instruments such as VIIRS, CrIS and OMPS on the Soumi-NPP spacecraft must aggregate data both spatially and spectrally in order to fit inside current data rate constraints limiting the optimal use of the as-built sensors. Future planned missions such as HyspIRI, SLI, PACE, and NISAR will have to trade spatial and spectral resolution if increased communication band width is not made available. A number of high-impact, environmental remote sensing disciplines such as hurricane observation, mega-city air quality, wild fire detection and monitoring, and monitoring of coastal oceans would benefit dramatically from enabling the downlinking of sensor data at higher spatial and spectral resolutions. The enabling technologies of multi-Gbps Ka-Band communication, flexible high speed on-board processing, and multi-Terabit SSRs are currently available with high technological maturity enabling high data volume mission requirements to be met with minimal mission constraints while utilizing a limited set of ground sites from NASA’s Near Earth Network (NEN) or TDRSS. These enabling technologies will be described in detail with emphasis on benefits to future remote sensing missions currently under consideration by government agencies.