CCommercial Space-based Sensors

INTRODUCTION

The commercial remote sensing systems industry intends to provide Earth imaging information obtained worldwide. The recent report by the Brown Commission discusses the need by U.S. forces for "… information about the world outside its borders to protect its national interests and relative position in the world, whether as a Cold War 'superpower' or a nation that remains heavily and inextricably engaged in world affairs. It needs information to avoid crises as well as respond to them, to calibrate its diplomacy, and to shape and deploy its defenses."1 Much of the information is available today from National intelligence capabilities, and the potential for commercial remote sensing systems to augment the information provided by National assets is high. Integrating National and commercial assets could in addition allow National assets to be designed for capabilities uniquely required by National security interests and allow more resources to be available for technology development. In the future, it will be possible to take advantage of commercial remote sensing systems and thereby provide a more robust capability for the forces of the future.

The data collected by commercial remote sensing companies will be used to supply products that generally can be categorized as imagery interpretive products (representative of Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] and National Photo-

1  

Brown, Harold, and Warren B. Rudman. 1996. Final Report—Preparing for the 21stCentury—An Appraisal of U.S. Intelligence, Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the United States Intelligence Community (the Brown Commission), Washington, D.C. (available online: http://www.gpo.gov/int/report.html).



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Technology for the United States Navy and Marine Corps, 2000-2035: Becoming a 21st-Century Force, Volume 3 Information in Warfare CCommercial Space-based Sensors INTRODUCTION The commercial remote sensing systems industry intends to provide Earth imaging information obtained worldwide. The recent report by the Brown Commission discusses the need by U.S. forces for "… information about the world outside its borders to protect its national interests and relative position in the world, whether as a Cold War 'superpower' or a nation that remains heavily and inextricably engaged in world affairs. It needs information to avoid crises as well as respond to them, to calibrate its diplomacy, and to shape and deploy its defenses."1 Much of the information is available today from National intelligence capabilities, and the potential for commercial remote sensing systems to augment the information provided by National assets is high. Integrating National and commercial assets could in addition allow National assets to be designed for capabilities uniquely required by National security interests and allow more resources to be available for technology development. In the future, it will be possible to take advantage of commercial remote sensing systems and thereby provide a more robust capability for the forces of the future. The data collected by commercial remote sensing companies will be used to supply products that generally can be categorized as imagery interpretive products (representative of Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] and National Photo- 1   Brown, Harold, and Warren B. Rudman. 1996. Final Report—Preparing for the 21st Century—An Appraisal of U.S. Intelligence, Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the United States Intelligence Community (the Brown Commission), Washington, D.C. (available online: http://www.gpo.gov/int/report.html).

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Technology for the United States Navy and Marine Corps, 2000-2035: Becoming a 21st-Century Force, Volume 3 Information in Warfare graphic Intelligence Center [NPIC] products today) and map products (similar to National Intelligence Mapping Agency [NIMA]-generated mapping, charting, and geodesy [MCG] products). The attributes of these products will vary considerably, as is discussed in detail below. The potential for applying information-rich data and the resulting base imagery to new and future naval requirements is significant. Commercialization will allow software vendors and companies working directly with the users of the data to expand this development process more rapidly and make it available at lower cost. In addition, many of the commercial applications are equally applicable to naval interests. For example, algorithms trained on specific crops for determining crop yields can be trained on ocean plant life, allowing better assessments of navigation potential near coastal waters. More precise land-coastal demarcation is possible through the use of high-resolution remote sensing data. Remote sensing data available to ships at sea about their regions of interest will enable ongoing mission planning. Remote sensing data also provide a better base image for future sensors whose data will then become more attractive and of potentially greater value when used in conjunction with accurate base imagery data. Hyperspectral sensor data and SAR data are examples of data from future sensors that are likely to be available commercially for the naval forces in the year 2035, and probably much sooner. Current naval leadership perceives three areas that drive Navy objectives not just for today but for the future as well: (1) forward presence, (2) engagement, and (3) fight to win. Information available from commercial remote sensing systems can contribute to supporting each of these areas. Remote sensing data will allow the Navy to intelligently understand the potential for forward presence and to reduce vulnerability by making use of information-rich, timely data available directly to these forces. Engagement will benefit in being able to task the sensors directly and obtain remote sensing data within minutes for the area of interest. The fight-to-win effort will benefit from data available for planning attacks as well as for assessing the success of operations and evaluating of enemy engagements. In addition, because much of this data will be archived, use of archived data with new data will allow a more comprehensive assessment to be made worldwide as the perceived foreign military threat is projected. How efficiently and effectively the Navy makes use of these new commercial remote sensing systems and the seamless integration of these and other data into the information infrastructure will enhance the Navy's capability for the future. ASSESSING COMPETING PROVIDERS Performance The performance of products offered by the U.S. commercial remote sensing systems business will generally be measurable by the following key product discriminators:

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Technology for the United States Navy and Marine Corps, 2000-2035: Becoming a 21st-Century Force, Volume 3 Information in Warfare Accuracy. How precisely objects can be located? Resolution and image quality. How clearly can the size and shape of objects can be determined? Information content. How much information can be derived? Timeliness and dependability. How current is the information, how rapidly can it be delivered, and how dependable is the source? Accuracy Horizontal metric accuracy refers to the ability to locate an object within a given radius from its actual location. This is the key parameter in determining the scale of maps that may be produced. The more accurate the system, the greater its capability to produce precision maps at a reasonable cost. Maps are an important segment of the remote sensing market. Precision accuracy is also critical in certain military applications. The inherent metric accuracy of a satellite system determines whether ground control points (GCPs) are required to achieve the desired accuracy of the finished product and, if so, how many. GCPs are basically location data confirmed by surveying or other techniques. Inherently less accurate systems may be able to produce high-accuracy products, but with relatively greater numbers of GCPs. The more GCPs required, the greater the cost of the product and the longer it takes to produce. Resolution and Image Quality Resolution determines how clearly the size and shape of objects can be determined. For example, 1-meter imagery can detect objects as small as 1 meter in size. High-resolution imagery products will also have high image quality, with relatively low levels of error or distortion. This high quality results from the superior technical capabilities of integrating the sensor, satellite platform, and ground processing facilities. One of the most difficult problems to overcome in creating a high-performance satellite imaging system is reducing distortions caused by the movement of the satellite or its components. Particularly at high resolutions in the range of 1 meter, the slightest irregularity in such movements will create serious distortions in the imagery produced. Revisit frequency is, in turn, a function of the system design, and the altitude and agility of the satellite. Some announced satellite systems apparently plan to operate at a lower altitude in order to achieve 1-meter resolution with a smaller and cheaper satellite. However, a higher-altitude satellite provides a wider coverage area for a given resolution.

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Technology for the United States Navy and Marine Corps, 2000-2035: Becoming a 21st-Century Force, Volume 3 Information in Warfare Information Content The information content of an image refers to the amount and type of information that can be extracted. Panchromatic (black and white) images contain information represented in a range of brightness levels or gray-scales. The number of gray-scale increments available is an exponential function of the number of information bits contained in the data (dynamic range). Most satellite systems to date have been 8-bit systems, which produce only 256 gray-scale levels. Timeliness and Dependability Another important feature of any system is its ability to deliver current information to the customer quickly and reliably. The currency of information depends largely on the collection capacity of a system and how frequently the system can access a particular area on Earth's surface (revisit frequency). The currency of information also depends on the speed with which it can be retrieved from a satellite, processed into products, and delivered to the customer. Price Companies in the remote-sensing industry will achieve price leadership by meeting the technical requiremets of a broad array of customers and by producing products efficiently through the use of such technologies as highly automated digital image processing. The anticipated expansion of the total market offers the potential for additional cost efficiency. The competitive position of commercial satellite systems providers in both the map and interpretive product markets will be affected by the following variables: The levels of accuracy that will satisfy large portions of the market for maps; The image quality, information content, and timeliness of availability of the interpretive products provided by existing and announced competitors; The capability for providing unique products such as those that combine the accuracy and resolution of 1-meter panchromatic images with the information content of multispectral images; and A level of technology and performance that contributes to broad market appeal, thus enabling a company to meet or beat the prices of other providers of space-based sensing systems for most products. Capabilities of Announced Space-based Sensing Systems Table C.1 summarizes the capabilities of the announced private high-resolution systems.

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Technology for the United States Navy and Marine Corps, 2000-2035: Becoming a 21st-Century Force, Volume 3 Information in Warfare TABLE C.1 Summary of Private High-resolution Systems System Announced Launch Date Resolution at Nadir Accuracy Information Content Other Features and Comments Space Late 1997 Pan: 0.82 m 1.5 m 11-bit Altitude: 680 km Imaging (SI)   MS: 3.28 m 1:2,400 with few GCP 4-band MS FR: 750 km       1:24,000 w/o GCPs   APPD: 1.82           APD: 442 s           Pan-sharpened capability             Earth Watch Late 1997a Pan: 1 m < 20 mb 11-bit Altitude: 470 km (EarlyBird)   MS: 4 m 1:24,000 with GCPsc 4-band MS FR: 560 km (QuickBird) Spring 2000       APPD: 1.15           APD: 351 s           Centralized operations LEGEND: Pan, panchromatic; MS, multispectral; GCP, ground control point; FR, field of regard at 1-m resolution; APPD, average passes per day; APD, average pass duration. a But see EarthWatch Satellites Launch Schedule (available online: www.digitalglobe.com/company/satellites.html). b Gupta, V. 1995. "New Satellite Images for Sale," International Security, Vol. 20, No. 1, p. 102. c It is not clear whether QuickBird can produce lower-map-scale products, and if it can, how many GCPs would be required.

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Technology for the United States Navy and Marine Corps, 2000-2035: Becoming a 21st-Century Force, Volume 3 Information in Warfare IMAGERY PRODUCTS AND MARKETS The overall remote sensing market is composed of users of two basic types of imagery products: map products and interpretive products. Map Products Map products provide information about the geographic location of objects on and features of Earth's surface, and they often serve as the base map for a geographic information system (GIS), providing a foundational coordinate system as well as topographic contour information. Commercial and civil governmental entities use map products for infrastructure development, land management, and natural resource development. Defense and intelligence agencies use map products for strategic and tactical planning and operations. Accuracy is the most important parameter in this market, although one or more of the other product discriminators listed above may be relevant, depending on the application. The commercial map product market has historically been dominated primarily by aerial firms, because they alone have been able to produce the necessary positional accuracy. Interpretive Products Interpretive products provide information concerning a number of surface features other than geographic location. These features range from attributes such as size, shape, and relative location, which are visually identifiable in panchromatic and multispectral imagery, to more complex information such as crop health, vegetation density, mineral distribution, chemical composition, or water turbidity. The value of interpretive products lies mainly in the extent to which the image or image data can be interpreted to extract information. Interpretive products fall into two main categories: visual products and multispectral classification products. In visual products, information about the contents of a scene, including the shape, size, and orientation of individual objects and groups, is visually apparent to the human eye. Changes can be observed by comparing images taken at different times. Panchromatic (black and white) images have been the most common examples of visual interpretive products in the past. However, multispectral (color) products can be used to extract considerably more information than panchromatic products, and the ready availability of high-resolution multispectral images will increase recognition of the value of color in image interpretation and create new demand for this high-margin product. In multispectral classification products, spectral response data is analyzed by computer to extract information and highlight distinctions not otherwise discernible by the human eye. These products have been used for such purposes as

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Technology for the United States Navy and Marine Corps, 2000-2035: Becoming a 21st-Century Force, Volume 3 Information in Warfare determining soil conditions, distinguishing between different kinds of crops, assessing crop health, providing target identification, and evaluating road trafficability. Defense and intelligence agencies are probably the largest users of visual interpretive imagery. These agencies currently obtain such imagery mainly from their own government systems. Interpretive products also have a wide range of actual and potential commercial and civil government uses, and it is expected that commercial and civilian government use of interpretive products to grow in the future. Users of interpretive products are generally not as concerned about accuracy as they are about resolution, image quality, and information content. Timeliness and dependability are often also important to users of these products. These are the traditional products that National systems have provided for defense and intelligence purposes. However, in addition to high resolution, defense analysts also require high image quality, because distortions such as pixel response variation, banding, and streaking or smearing will significantly reduce their ability to interpret information with confidence. Greater information content allows more precise identification through the presentation of more refined contrasts in panchromatic imagery, and enables a broader range of analysis through the addition of multispectral information. Timeliness and dependability are also of great importance to military and intelligence users who monitor national security situations and therefore require the most current and most reliable information available. For certain military applications, such as targeting, accuracy at the level of meters is also important. Table C.2 shows the ground resolution at which a range of targets can be identified and analyzed. POTENTIAL DEFENSE APPLICATIONS The Navy should look on commercial remote sensing systems as a source of information complementary to that available through National technical means. With the advent of both 1-meter panchromatic and 4-meter multispectral data, the effective image resolution provided by commercial space-based sensing systems can aid the military in its intelligence and power-projection missions. A capability for next-generation systems to begin to undertake some of the indications-and-warning missions that have been accomplished by other systems would allow some level of National-systems queuing, resulting in more efficient use of their time. Capabilities for port monitoring and some directed shipping lane surveillance are available. With additional imaging resources, using commercial imaging for events that require situation assessment and mission planning, rather than redirecting National assets, might help in overcoming some of the resource limitations and consequent prioritization that have kept the military from having some of its remote sensing requirements fulfilled. The four multispectral bands offered by most of the commercial systems,

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Technology for the United States Navy and Marine Corps, 2000-2035: Becoming a 21st-Century Force, Volume 3 Information in Warfare TABLE C.2 Approximate Ground Resolution in Meters at Which Target Can Be Detected, Identified, Described, or Analyzed Target Detectiona General IDb Pecise IDc Descriptiond Technical Analysise Bridges 6 4.5 1.5 1 3 Communications           Radar 3 1 0.3 0.15 0.015 Radio 3 1.5 0.3 0.15 0.015 Supply dumps 1.5-3 0.6 0.3 0.03 0.03 Troop units (in bivouac or on road) 6 2 1.2 0.3 0.15 Airfield facilities 6 4.5 3 0.3 0.15 Rockets and artillery 1 0.6 0.15 0.05 0.045 Aircraft 4.5 1.5 1 0.15 0.045 Command and control headquarters 3 1.5 1 0.15 0.09 Missile sites (SSM/SAM) 3 1.5 0.6 0.3 0.045 Surface ships 7.5-15 4.5 0.6 0.3 0.045 Nuclear weapons components 2.5 1.5 0.3 0.03 0.015 Vehicles 1.5 0.6 0.3 0.06 0.045 Minefields 3-9 6 1 0.03 — Ports and harbors 30 15 6 3 0.3 Coasts, landing beaches 15-30 4.5 3 1.5 0.15 Railroad yards and shops 15-30 15 6 1.5 0.4 Roads 6-9 6 1.8 0.6 0.4 Urban areas 60 30 3 3 0.75 Terrain — 90 4.5 1.5 0.75 Surface Submarines 7.5-30 4.5-6 1.5 1 0.03 SOURCE: U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, NASA authorization for fiscal year 1978, pp. 1642-1643; and Reconnaissance Hand Book, 1982, McDonnell-Douglas Corporation, p. 125. Adapted from Table 1 in Ann M. Florini, 1988, "The Opening Skies: Third-Party Imaging Satellites and U.S. Security," International Security, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp. 91-123. a Location of a class of units, objects, or activity of military interest. b Determination of general target type. c Discrimination within target type. d Size/dimension, configuration/layout, components construction, equipment count, etc. e Detailed analysis of specific equipment. specifically the blue and the near-infrared, should enable an added level of area evaluation and target detection and identification capability that is not possible with standard 1-meter or better panchromatic images. Combining the spectral data of the four separate bands with the increased spatial resolution of the panchromatic band should yield a greater ability to detect objects in the water and

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Technology for the United States Navy and Marine Corps, 2000-2035: Becoming a 21st-Century Force, Volume 3 Information in Warfare find camouflaged vehicles around a landing area. Imaging of some degree of soil trafficability can also be performed with the aid of the near-infrared band, thus providing information to support an actual landing. When these capabilities are combined with near-real-time tasking and data receipt capabilities, the DOD is a transportable ground terminal away from having access to a high-resolution imaging system directly in the field or aboard a ship. This capability would provide long-sought-after information timeliness to the warfighter.