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Coastal Zone Wide-Swath Airborne Topography, Surface Current and Debris Mapper


Summary:  NOAA’s goals and objectives include preparing, educating and informing society as to the impacts of climate change and severe weather. Both affect coastal regions of United States but also interior regions especially near lakes and rivers. To help society meet the challenges climate change and severe weather, NOAA requires timely and cost effective means to:


1)      Surface water and land topography mapping of ocean, coastal, water ways, fresh water regions;

2)      Surface (fresh and ocean) current mapping;

3)      Debris detection mapping in coastal regions, water ways and marine navigation routes; and

4)      Storm surge mapping.


Today, LIDARs, synthetic aperture radars, Doppler radars and altimeters are used to provide surface topography and surface water current mapping. However, these technologies can be expensive to operate, provide limited coverage, may not always be deployable from aircraft or are limited to specific aircraft and flight altitudes. Debris and surface contamination detection is becoming more important as events such as the tsunami in Japan and Gulf oil spill occur. As the climate changes, coastal and inland flooding is on the rise and more timely and cost effective means are required to map the surface water and terrestrial topography in these regions to better assess and prepare for weather and flooding events.  In events such as land falling hurricanes real-time monitoring before, during and after of coastal regions and water ways is necessary to more efficiently deploy limited resources and provide society with the necessary information to prepare and react to these events in order to minimize loss of life and impact on the economy.


NOAA seeks innovative sensor that can provide large swath measurements of the items listed above in a cost effective manner, deployable on multiple airborne platforms, manned and unmanned, up to 70 kft altitudes, and operational in large range of atmospheric conditions (e.g. cloud covered).


Project Goals:  This project seeks an innovative solution that addresses coastal observational requirements currently requiring several different types of sensors operated from a variety of platforms.  Knowledge of the coastal zone environment (topography, surface currents, debris in water ways, and impacts of storm surge) before, during and after significant weather events is critically important for both long term and short term planning and mitigation activities.  A solution that addresses these observation requirements that can quickly and efficiently create maps over large swaths from an airborne platform (manned and unmanned) would be a great benefit to NOAA’s mission objectives.


Phase I Activities and Expected Deliverables:


·         Define application/baseline requirements including operation/install requirements on targeted platforms.

·         Develop and define sensor concept and system specifications.

·         Develop preliminary system design to meets above requirements and specifications.

·         Determine measurement performance in terms of final geophysical parameters, spatial coverage and temporal coverage.

·         Determine feasibility and cost to build prototype and estimate operational costs of a Phase 3 system.

·         Performance commercial application study identifying market space and potential revenue from the product (maybe sensor and/or data) developed based on the system developed through the SBIR.


·         Requirements Definitions.

·         Sensor Concept and Preliminary System Design.

·         Performance, Feasibility, Cost Analysis.

·         Commercial Application Analysis.

·         Final Report.


Phase II Activities and Expected Deliverables:


·         Develop detailed system design for Phase II prototype system.

·         Perform full system performance analysis and determined compliance with requirements and specifications from Phase I.

·         Develop test / verification plan for evaluating Phase II prototype performance.

·         Fabricate Phase II prototype system.

·         Execute performance / verification testing.

·         Identify commercial products and market space being addressed by the technology developed through this effort.


·         Performance Analysis Report.

·         Test/Verification Plan

·         Performance Testing Report

·         Phase II Prototype System.

·         Commercial / Market Analysis Report.

·         Final Report.

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