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Suborbital Instruments and Sensor Systems for Earth Science Measurements

Description:

Scope Title:

Sensors and Sensor Systems Targeting Oceans

Scope Description:

NASA seeks measurement capabilities that support current satellite and model validation, advancement of surface-based remote sensing networks, and targeted Airborne Science Program and ship-based field campaign activities as discussed in the Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) solicitation. Data from such sensors also inform process studies to improve our scientific understanding of the Earth System. In situ sensor systems (airborne, land, and water-based) can comprise stand-alone instrument and data packages; instrument systems configured for integration on ship-based (or alternate surface-based platform) and in-water deployments, NASA’s Airborne Science aircraft fleet or commercial providers, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or balloons; ground networks; or end-to-end solutions providing needed data products from mated sensor and airborne/surface/subsurface platforms. An important goal is to create sustainable measurement capabilities to support NASA’s Earth science objectives, with infusion of new technologies and systems into current/future NASA research programs. Instrument prototypes as a deliverable in Phase II proposals and/or field demonstrations are highly encouraged. 

 

Complete instrument systems are generally desired, including features such as remote/unattended operation and data acquisition and minimum size, weight, and power consumption. All proposals must summarize the current state of the art and demonstrate how the proposed sensor or sensor system represents a significant improvement over the state.  

 

Specific desired sensors or mated platform/sensors include: 

  • A hyperspectral in-water radiometry system (HIWRS), ideally with linear polarization measurement capability, completely covering the UV-Vis-NIR (ultraviolet-visible-near-infrared) wavelength range between 320 and 890 nm with a minimum resolution of 5 nm and 1-nm sampling desired (minimum spectral sampling of 2.5 nm).  The instrument system shall measure upwelling and downwelling radiances and have a separate solar irradiance reference sensor with equivalent spectral and polarization capabilities.  Spectral radiometric uncertainty should be lower than 4% in the 400 to 580 nm spectral region and approximately 5% for the 580 to 720 nm region, combining uncertainty contributions from instrument absolute calibration, characterization (including at least spectral calibration, nonlinearity, stray light perturbation and polarization sensitivity, temperature dependence, and, if applicable, geometrical and in-water response), environmental perturbation, and data processing (with National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) traceability).  The HIWRS must be ocean submersible to 200 m and ideally will be deployable as an ocean vertical profiling system that provides high vertical resolution near the sea surface on the order of 5 cm (preferred for top 1 m) to 20 cm.  Integrated tilt, temperature, and water-depth sensors are essential for the in-water profiling system. 
  • In situ measurements of ocean particulate backscatter, depolarization, beam attenuation, and diffuse attenuation coefficients relevant for combined ocean-atmosphere active remote sensing (355, 473, 486, 532, 1064 nm wavelengths and 170° to 180° scattering angle with ≤1° angular resolution).  Instrument must be ocean submersible to 300 m or deeper. 
  • In situ polarized hyperspectral UV-Vis volume scattering function (VSF) instrument (ocean submersible to 300 m) covering the angular range close to 0° and, more importantly, as far as 180° (with  ≤2° angular resolution). Instrument should have ability to measure (at least) horizontal and vertical aspects of linear polarization. Degree of resolution in angles and wavelength can be decreased for instrument portability and robustness (such as for autonomous unmanned vehicle (AUV) deployments). 
  • A well-calibrated airborne hyperspectral imager with spectral sensitivity in the UV to Vis (340 to 900 nm; preferably 320 to 1,080 nm) with spectral sampling of at least 2.5 nm, spectral resolution of at least 5 nm, and a wide dynamic range and sensitivity spanning from ocean radiances to cloud radiances for use in comparison to the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) Ocean Color Instrument and other sensors. 
  • Innovative, high-value sensors directly targeting a stated NASA need (including aerosols, clouds, and ocean) may also be considered. Proposals responding to this specific bullet are strongly encouraged to identify at least one relevant NASA subject matter expert. 

 

The S1.08 subtopic is and remains highly relevant to NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) and Earth Science research programs, in particular the Earth Science Atmospheric Composition, Climate Variability & Change, and Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems focus areas. In situ and ground-based sensors inform NASA ship and airborne science campaigns led by these programs and provide important validation of the current and next-generation of satellite-based sensors (e.g., PACE, TEMPO (Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution), OCO-2 (Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2), GLIMR (Geosynchronous Littoral Imaging and Monitoring Radiometer), SBG (Surface Biology and Geology), and ACCP (Aerosols, Cloud, Convection and Precipitation)—see links below). The solicited measurements will be highly relevant future NASA campaigns with objectives and observing strategies similar to past campaigns; for example, NAAMES (North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study), EXPORTS (EXport Processes in the Ocean from RemoTe Sensing), CAMP2EX (Cloud, Aerosol and Monsoon Processes-Philippines Experiment), FIREX-AQ (Fire Influence on Regional to Global Environments Experiment-Air Quality), KORUS-AQ (Korea-United States Air Quality), and DISCOVER-AQ (Deriving Information on Surface conditions from Column and Vertically Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality).  

Expected TRL or TRL Range at completion of the Project: 4 to 7

Primary Technology Taxonomy:

  • Level 1 08 Sensors and Instruments
  • Level 2 08.3 In-Situ Instruments/Sensor

Desired Deliverables of Phase I and Phase II:

  • Prototype
  • Hardware
  • Software

Desired Deliverables Description:

The ideal Phase I proposal would demonstrate a clear idea of the problem to be solved, potential solutions to this problem, and an appreciation for potential risks or stumbling blocks that might jeopardize the success of the Phase I and II projects. The ideal Phase I effort would then address and hopefully overcome any major challenges to (1) demonstrate feasibility of the proposed solution and (2) clear the way for the Phase II effort. These accomplishments would be detailed in the Phase I final report and serve as the foundation for a Phase II proposal. 

The ideal Phase II effort would build, characterize, and deliver a prototype instrument to NASA including necessary hardware and operating software. The prototype would be fully functional, but the packaging may be more utilitarian (i.e., less polished) than a commercial model. 

State of the Art and Critical Gaps:

The subtopic is and remains highly relevant to the NASA SMD and Earth Science research programs, in particular the Earth Science Atmospheric Composition, Climate Variability & Change, and Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems focus areas. Suborbital in situ and remote sensors inform NASA ground, ship, and airborne science campaigns led by these programs and provide important validation of the current and next generation of satellite-based sensors (e.g., PACE, OCO-2, TEMPO, GLIMR, SBG, A-CCP; see links in References). The solicited measurements will be highly relevant to current and future NASA campaigns with objectives and observing strategies similar to past campaigns (e.g., ACTIVATE (Aerosol Cloud meTeorology Interactions oVer the western ATlantic Experiment), NAAMES, EXPORTS, CAMP2EX, FIREX-AQ, KORUS-AQ, and DISCOVER-AQ; see links in References). 

Obtaining quality measurements during ship-board field and airborne flight campaigns for support of active satellite missions and for obtaining observations to support next-generation missions remains highly important for NASA Ocean Science. Quality field instruments for particle backscatter at high scattering angles (>170°), multiple scattering angles, and high fidelity remains elusive, with most of these only measuring specific components of the scattering matrix. New in situ optical instruments are needed with higher spectral resolution to support the upcoming PACE mission field support activities. Finally, there are few instruments that can provide comprehensive measurements of the polarization characteristics of the ocean, with most capturing selective aspects. For subsurface radiance measurements, a critical gap is that no commercially available profiling package has become available that can obtain hyperspectral measurements of the ocean upwelling and downwelling within the upper 1 m of the ocean with high vertical resolution necessary for in-water profiling.

Relevance / Science Traceability:

The subtopic is and remains highly relevant to NASA SMD and Earth Science research programs, in particular the Earth Science Atmospheric Composition, Weather and Atmospheric Dynamics, Climate Variability & Change, Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems, and Earth Surface and Interior focus areas. In situ and ground-based sensors inform NASA ship and airborne science campaigns led by these programs and provide important validation of the current and next generation of satellite-based sensors (e.g., PACE, OCO-2, TEMPO, GLIMR, SBG, A-CCP; see links in References). The solicited measurements will be highly relevant future NASA campaigns with objectives and observing strategies similar to past campaigns (e.g., NAAMES, EXPORTS, CAMP2EX, FIREX-AQ, KORUS-AQ, DISCOVER-AQ; see links in References). The need horizon of the subtopic sensors and sensor systems is both near-term (<5 yr) and midterm (5 to 10 yr). 

 

Relevant Programs and Program Officers include: 

  • NASA Earth Science Division (ESD) Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry Program

  • NASA ESD Tropospheric Composition Program 

  • NASA ESD Radiation Sciences Program 

  • NASA ESD Weather and Atmospheric Dynamics Program 

  • NASA ESD Earth Surface and Interior Program

  • NASA ESD Airborne Science Program 

References:

Relevant current and past satellite missions and field campaigns include:

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