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Weather-Ready Nation

Description:

Topic 8.4 Weather-Ready Nation

Subtopic 8.4.1W Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Applications Supporting the NWS Mission

Summary: Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are a technology supporting an explosive rate of private sector innovation. This project focuses on unmet need of every branch of NOAA, but particularly the NWS, which will then branch outward to numerous state and local government entities (e.g. Emergency Management, Department of Transportation, US Forestry Service, Coast Guard etc.), and to private entities supporting the government entities. The project, in particular, focuses on UAV utilizations that can directly save lives, as well as indirectly save lives through improved forecasts, warnings, and public alerts.

Project Goals: A NOAA White Paper (available upon request) has been developed with two dozen valuable applications of small UAVs for the National Weather Service and its partners (e.g. Emergency Management, Department of Transportation, US Forestry Service, Coast Guard, etc.). The funded project will utilize air worthy craft, appropriate payloads, and approved testing facilities, to demonstrate the following applications:

  1. Acquisition of boundary layer temperature, humidity, and wind information for high-res models in support of more accurate forecasts of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, flash floods, and winter storms.
  2. Ability to survey storm damage, provide before- and after-storm imagery, and access imagery to wildfire burn scars.
  3. Ability to access river level information that could support more accurate river flood forecasts.
  4. Ability to utilize UAVs to monitor, and potentially alert swimmers to, the presence of deadly rip currents.
  5. Ability to utilize UAVs to alert communities of approaching deadly weather, e.g. flash flood, tornado, etc. (i.e. a flying siren for communities that cannot afford ground-based siren systems).
  6. Ability to assess road conditions during and after winter storm events.
  7. Utilization of UAVs for meteorological research initiatives (e.g. sensing boundaries that could initiate thunderstorms).
  8. River flood or storm surge inundation impacts using LIDAR payload.
  9. Utilizing UAVs for search and rescue efforts.
  10. Utilizing UAVs for wildfire support, both gathering video of fire area and gathering meteorological data to support better near-term forecasts to help wildfire incident teams.

These are all critical needs that cannot be easily addressed without UAVs and the payloads they would carry.

Phase I Activities and Expected Deliverables:

Activities include:

  • Develop and demonstrate a cost-feasible, air-worthy craft that could accomplish the project requirements. "Cost-feasible" refers to a means by which smaller potential customers could afford the technology.
  • Ensure ability to transmit UAV accessed information in real time to a ground station.
  • Ensure ability of craft to fly in variety of conditions that could be faced, including precipitation, moderate winds, etc.
  • Developing a cost-feasible proposal

Deliverables include:

  • Video captured from UAV over a "simulated" damage area in different conditions (e.g. in precipitation, in moderate winds, etc.)
  • Meteorological data (temperature, wind, and humidity) acquired in real-time at a test facility, at least every 100 ft up to a height of at least 3,000 ft AG (5,000-10,000ft preferable.
  • Illustration of cost-feasible nature of the technology, preferably under $50,000, as well as the total cost of ownership (i.e. required maintenance costs, insurance, expected lifetime for daily operation, etc.).

Phase II Activities and Expected Deliverables:

Activities include:

  • Demonstrate each of the two dozen UAV applications given in NOAA's White Paper at a variety of test facilities and in different atmospheric environments.

Additional applications from NOAA's partners (e.g. emergency management, coast guard, etc.) may be added.

Deliverables include

  • Demonstration results for each application from NOAA's White Paper and NOAA's partners. Each demonstration should illustrate the ability of the craft to acquire and transmit the desired data or imagery, or perform the required task.
  • Results gathered from different flying environments should be separated to illustrate UAV abilities and limitations.
  • Demonstration of ease of operation and training by entities not familiar with these craft.
  • Company plans for commercialization of their UAV craft for customers focused on the needs described in NOAA's White Paper.
  • Company presentation of results at AUVSI national meeting

 

Subtopic 8.4.2W Satellite Environment Space Weather Products

Summary: Satellite systems are susceptible to the low-energy and high-energy particle environment in space, which can cause surface charging, bulk charging, and single-event upsets in electronic devices. Currently real-time data and numerical models are available to provide information on the conditions in space and the likelihood that the recent conditions could be responsible for anomalous spacecraft effects. In addition to the particle data available from the current NOAA Geostationary Operational Environment Satellites (GOES), the next generation satellite series beginning with the launch of GOES-R in 2016 will include a broader suite of low- and high-energy charged particle measurements. It is desired to improve the utilization of the real-time data and models and to develop new products and services that address specific needs of the satellite industry.

Project Goals: The goal of this project is to develop improved products to address the impacts of space weather on the satellite industry. This activity will:

  1. evaluate the utility to the satellite industry of specific products, including forecasts, real-time information, and retrospective information, both existing and potential;
  2. utilize currently available data to develop test products for evaluation;
  3. plan for products that will be possible with data soon to be available on the upcoming GOES-R mission;
  4. develop products utilizing available numerical models. Products may be public-facing or tailored to specific users, or some combination of the two.

Phase I Activities and Expected Deliverables:

  • Assess the needs of potential customers and users of satellite-environment products.
  • Develop test products based on customer feedback utilizing existing data (from NOAA and/or other sources) and evaluate the accuracy and consistency.
  • Develop a product plan for data that will be available from GOES-R.
  • Develop test products using available numerical models of the satellite environment.
  • Obtain feedback on the test products and planned products from potential customers.
  • Deliver a report and documentation on test and planned products, including customer feedback. Provide prototype code for all products.

Phase II Activities and Expected Deliverables:

  • Develop prototypes of the products for test and evaluation
  • Establish links to real-time data
  • Develop code that could be made operational
  • Document code for possible transition to operations
  • Run the test code in real-time, and retrospectively if appropriate, and evaluate the performance.
  • Develop products based on customer needs and requirements

NOTE: Even though a prototype may be required to be delivered for the project, it is important to note that this prototype is still the property of the offeror. NOAA would only do field or lab testing on that product to see its feasibility in a production (or development) environment

 

Subtopic 8.4.3W Satellite ground station network for real-time space weather data

Summary: The Nation’s critical infrastructure and economy are increasingly susceptible to the impacts of space weather. Leadership at the highest levels of government, including DHS, DoD, and the White House, are involved in efforts to prepare and respond to severe space weather outbreaks. Some of the most critical real-time space weather data comes from satellites both near Earth and at various locations around the solar system. Data from geosynchronous or geostationary satellites are fairly easy to acquire in real-time as it requires only one downlink site on the ground. Data from LEO and MEO satellites often have 60-90 minute latency between satellite and the operational data processing sites. This is typically due to the lack of satellite downlink sites and the time between when the data is acquired by the sensors on the satellite and when the satellite can downlink the data to a site on the ground. Similarly, satellite out in the solar wind such as ACE or DSCOVR at the first Lagrange point (L1) or at other points such as the fifth Lagrange point (L5) require a number of downlink sites around the world in order to provide continuous real-time data links. Current satellite downlink options are being met by a number of different solutions. Some solutions require international partnerships. Other existing solutions for satellites constellations such as COSMIC II are not adequate for providing real-time data with less than 15 minute latencies.

Project Goals: The goal of this activity is to assess the needs of the operational satellite data systems for space weather and explore options for optimizing down-link locations and satellite dishes to provide continuous and near-real time access to the satellite data. Phase I of this activity would require an assessment of current and planned satellite systems, including LEO, MEO, L1, L5, and even polar Molniya orbits and what the real-time satellite data downlink systems might look like. Phase II of this effort would involve investigation into satellite communication and dish technologies that might provide improved downlink capabilities and flexibilities.

Phase I Activities and Expected Deliverables:

Activities include

  • Assess requirements and current capabilities of the Real-time Solar Wind Network used for tracking the ACE and DSCOVR satellites at L1
  • Assess requirements for tracking satellites at L5
  • Assess requirements and current capabilities for tracking constellations of LEO satellites to provide near-continuous real-time data flow.
  • Assess downlink options for other orbits such as MEO and Molniya.

Deliverables include:

  • A report on the technical requirements for real-time satellite data downlinks for each type of orbit described above. This report should include an assessment of current capabilities and areas where current solutions are not providing optimal data access and latencies

Phase II Activities and Expected Deliverables:

Activities include:

  • Concept implementation and product development.
  • Identify various solutions to providing improved data downlink for the various satellite orbits. Explore options such as satellite-to-satellite data relays to improve latencies.

Deliverables include:

  • Report on suggested solutions to satellite downlink options including ground system hardware specifications

 

Subtopic 8.4.4D L-Band Radio Frequency Interference Filtering

Summary: The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, Section 6401 (a), (3) directed the Secretary of Commerce to identify 15 MHz of U.S. government use spectrum suitable for repurposing, i.e., sharing with commercial wireless carriers. The Secretary of Commerce identified 1695 – 1710 MHz as the band to be designated for sharing with the wireless carriers. In order to ensure the continued successful capture of satellite meteorological data, while providing opportunity for the wireless carriers to also operate in the band, NOAA is seeking innovative approaches to potentially mitigate interference signals from wireless user equipment (UE), such as, handheld smart phones and devices in close proximity to NOAA/NWS satellite ground stations. An effective interference mitigation approach will ensure the uninterrupted flow of critical meteorological data from Low Earth Orbiting (LEO)/Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellites (POES) and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite system (GOES) satellites once spectrum sharing begins. The wireless carriers could begin commercial use of the frequency soon. Additionally, it is likely that in the future there will be more spectrum auctions, which may require additional spectrum sharing between the government and wireless telecommunications industry. The Radio Frequency Interference Monitoring System (RFIMS) program was initiated to investigate mitigate the risk associated with sharing the frequency band. A key aspect of the project will be to investigate opportunities to filter/separate out interference, rather than simply monitor it and identify it. The filtering of interference as opposed to simply monitoring for interference provides for a significantly better solution as it proactively negates the affects the of interference; where simply monitoring would interaction with the wireless carriers and reliance on the wireless carriers to take corrective action.

Project Goals: The L-Band Radio Frequency (RF) Filtering project goals are to significantly advance the technology of the hardware and software used in satellite communication by developing a fully adaptive and re-configurable architecture that is agnostic to specified waveforms and standards; i.e., NOAA L-Band RF Filtered ground stations will be able to cognitively choose to operate in any frequency band with any modulation and multiple access specification depending on the restrictions of the environmental and operating conditions capable of identifying and separating unwanted signals; including LTE with Orthogonal Frequency Division multiplexing (OFDM) and unintentional broad band radio frequency interference (RFI) in the 1695 – 1710 MHz band from the operational Quadrature Phase Shift Keying (QPSK) modulated satellite downlink signals. While the interference issue primarily affects government users (e.g. National Weather Service, Department of Defense (DoD), and the Department of Interior (DOI)), civilian and commercial organizations that capture these down-links and use the data for daily and critical weather forecasting in support of a weather ready nation could also potentially benefit from this project. The project is intended to demonstrate a reconfigurable RF front-end filter covering a frequency range of greater than or equal to 1695 – 1710 MHz up to the entire L-Band range. This front-end will consist of fully waveform-agile channels and analog-sensing channels designed to detect, identify and separate waveforms over the spectral field of regard. Depending on the design, the system could filter/separate signals at the RF or IF (intermediate frequency) level, or both. In addition to maintaining critical communication links, this project will equip each satellite receive ground station with a compact and powerful signal sensing and analysis platform capable of characterizing the signal environment. This project will also enable rapid RF front-end filter platform deployment for new waveforms and changing operational requirements.

Phase I Activities and Expected Deliverables:

Activities include:

  • Demonstrate the feasibility of a filter to effectively identify and separate out unwanted interference from Long-Term
  • Evolution (LTE) wireless carriers, in real-time, without a priori knowledge of the interfering signals in the 1695-1710 MHz band. Where the interference could be 10 db below the noise floor, sources are very mobile and transient, as is expected in LTE operations. Also the interference may be the result of aggregation of multiple low-power interference sources.
  • Produce a feasibility study, documenting the proof of concept design of an adaptive filter capability.
  • Document all analysis, laboratory test environments/equipment configurations, modeling and simulations utilized during the study phase.

Deliverables include:

  • A feasibility study documenting the offerors’ proof of concept, with supporting analysis using a prescriptive model.
  • Analysis using mathematical (deterministic) models of the impact of the developed algorithms, simulations and laboratory experiments.
  • Report showing the promise for commercial applications.

Phase II Activities and Expected Deliverables:

Activities include

  • Simulation using statistical (stochastic) models of the techniques and products developed in phase I.
  • Development and initial testing of prototype(s).
  • Prototype trials in either a laboratory or field environment of the techniques and products developed in Phase I.

Deliverables include

  • A prototype or laboratory equipment and documented configuration with detail on how either could be turned into a production model.
  • Detailed report on developed technology/technique showing the results of simulation and prototyping and economic feasibility under commercial conditions.

NOTE: Even though a prototype may be required to be delivered for the project, it is important to note that this prototype is still the property of the offeror. NOAA would only do field or lab testing on that product to see its feasibility in a production (or development) environment

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