THE ROLE OF SMALL SATELLITES IN NASA AND NOAA EARTH OBSERVATION PROGRAMS

Committee on Earth Studies

Space Studies Board

Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.



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The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs THE ROLE OF SMALL SATELLITES IN NASA AND NOAA EARTH OBSERVATION PROGRAMS Committee on Earth Studies Space Studies Board Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C.

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The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. Support for this project was provided by Contract NASW 96013 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and was funded in part by a contract from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsor. International Standard Book Number 0-309-06982-3 Copies of this report are available free of charge from: Space Studies Board National Research Council 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20418 Copyright 2000 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Engineering Institute of Medicine National Research Council The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

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The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs COMMITTEE ON EARTH STUDIES MARK R. ABBOTT, Oregon State University, Chair OTIS B. BROWN,** University of Miami JOHN R. CHRISTY, University of Alabama, Huntsville CATHERINE GAUTIER, University of California, Santa Barbara DANIEL J. JACOB,** Harvard University CHRIS J. JOHANNSEN,* Purdue University CHRISTOPHER O. JUSTICE, University of Virginia VICTOR V. KLEMAS,* University of Delaware BRUCE D. MARCUS,** TRW M. PATRICK MCCORMICK,** Hampton University ARAM M. MIKA,* Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space RALPH F. MILLIFF, National Center for Atmospheric Research RICHARD K. MOORE,* University of Kansas SCOTT PACE, Rand DALLAS L. PECK, U.S. Geological Survey (retired) MICHAEL J. PRATHER, University of California, Irvine R. KEITH RANEY, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory DAVID T. SANDWELL, Scripps Institution of Oceanography LAWRENCE C. SCHOLZ, West Orange, New Jersey CARL F. SCHUELER, Raytheon Santa Barbara Remote Sensing WALTER S. SCOTT,* EarthWatch GRAEME L. STEPHENS, Colorado State University KATHRYN D. SULLIVAN,* Columbus Ohio's Center of Science and Industry FAWWAZ T. ULABY, University of Michigan SUSAN L. USTIN, University of California, Davis FRANK J. WENTZ, Remote Sensing Systems THOMAS T. WILHEIT, JR.,* Texas A&M University EDWARD F. ZALEWSKI, University of Arizona ARTHUR A. CHARO, Senior Program Officer INA B. ALTERMAN, Senior Program Officer CARMELA J. CHAMBERLAIN, Senior Project Assistant (through March 1999) THERESA M. FISHER, Senior Project Assistant (from April 1999) *    Term ended in 1998. **   Term ended in 1999.

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The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs SPACE STUDIES BOARD CLAUDE R. CANIZARES, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chair MARK R. ABBOTT, Oregon State University FRAN BAGENAL, university of Colorado DANIEL N. BAKER, University of Colorado ROBERT E. CLELAND, University of Washington GERARD W. ELVERUM, JR., TRW Space and Technology Group* MARILYN L. FOGEL, Carnegie Institution of Washington BILL GREEN, Former Member, U.S. House of Representatives JOHN H. HOPPS, JR., Morehouse College CHRIS J. JOHANNSEN, Purdue University ANDREW H. KNOLL, Harvard University* RICHARD G. KRON, University of Chicago JONATHAN I. LUNINE, University of Arizona ROBERTA BALSTAD MILLER, CIESIN-Columbia University GARY J. OLSEN, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign MARY JANE OSBORN, University of Connecticut Health Center GEORGE A. PAULIKAS, The Aerospace Corporation JOYCE E. PENNER, University of Michigan THOMAS A. PRINCE, California Institute of Technology PEDRO L. RUSTAN, JR., Ellipso, Inc. GEORGE L. SISCOE, Boston University EUGENE B. SKOLNIKOFF, Massachusetts Institute of Technology MITCHELL SOGIN, Marine Biological Laboratory NORMAN E. THAGARD, Florida State University ALAN M. TITLE, Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center RAYMOND VISKANTA, Purdue University PETER VOORHEES, Northwestern University JOHN A. WOOD, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics JOSEPH K. ALEXANDER, Director *    Former member.

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The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs COMMISSION ON PHYSICAL SCIENCES, MATHEMATICS, AND APPLICATIONS PETER M. BANKS, Veridian ERIM International, Inc., Co-chair W. CARL LINEBERGER, University of Colorado, Co-chair WILLIAM F. BALLHAUS, JR., Lockheed Martin Corp. SHIRLEY CHIANG, University of California at Davis MARSHALL H. COHEN, California Institute of Technology RONALD G. DOUGLAS, Texas A&M University SAMUEL H. FULLER, Analog Devices, Inc. JERRY P. GOLLUB, Haverford College MICHAEL F. GOODCHILD, University of California at Santa Barbara MARTHA P. HAYNES, Cornell University WESLEY T. HUNTRESS, JR., Carnegie Institution CAROL M. JANTZEN, Westinghouse Savannah River Company PAUL G. KAMINSKI, Technovation, Inc. KENNETH H. KELLER, University of Minnesota JOHN R. KREICK, Sanders, a Lockheed Martin Company (ret.) MARSHA I. LESTER, University of Pennsylvania DUSA M. MCDUFF, State University of New York at Stony Brook JANET L. NORWOOD, Former U.S. Commissioner of Labor Statistics M. ELISABETH PATÉ-CORNELL, Stanford University NICHOLAS P. SAMIOS, Brookhaven National Laboratory ROBERT J. SPINRAD, Xerox PARC (ret.) NORMAN METZGER, Executive Director (through July 1999) MYRON F. UMAN, Acting Executive Director

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The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs Foreword Remote observations of Earth from space serve an extraordinarily broad range of purposes, resulting in extraordinary demands on those at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and elsewhere who must decide how to execute them. In research, Earth observations promise large volumes of data to a variety of disciplines with differing needs for measurement type, simultaneity, continuity, and long-term instrument stability. Operational needs, such as weather forecasting, add a distinct set of requirements for continual and highly reliable monitoring of global conditions. The present study confronts these diverse requirements and assesses how they might be met by small satellites. In the past, the preferred architecture for most NASA and NOAA missions was a single large spacecraft platform containing a sophisticated suite of instruments. But the recognition in other areas of space research that cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and robustness may be enhanced by using small spacecraft has raised questions about this philosophy of Earth observation. For example, NASA has already abandoned its original plan for a follow-on series of major platforms in its Earth Observing System. This study finds that small spacecraft can play an important role in Earth observation programs, providing to this field some of the expected benefits that are normally associated with such programs, such as rapid development and lower individual mission cost. It also identifies some of the programmatic and technical challenges associated with a mission composed of small spacecraft, as well as reasons why more traditional, larger platforms might still be preferred. The reasonable conclusion is that a systems-level examination is required to determine the optimum architecture for a given scientific and/or operational objective. The implied new challenge is for NASA and NOAA to find intra- and interagency planning mechanisms that can achieve the most appropriate and cost-effective balance among their various requirements. Claude R. Canizares, Chair Space Studies Board

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The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs Acknowledgment of Reviewers This report has been reviewed by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council's (NRC's) Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the authors and the NRC in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The contents of the review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: David Atlas, Atlas Concepts; Peter Burr, consultant; Greg H. Canavan, Los Alamos National Laboratory; Leonard A. Fisk, University of Michigan; Margaret G. Kivelson, University of California at Los Angeles; Marlon R. Lewis, Dahlousie University, Canada; and Eberhardt Recktin, consultant. Although the individuals listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, responsibility for the final content of this report rests solely with the authoring committee and the NRC.

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The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs Contents     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   1 1   INTRODUCTION   7     References   10 2   CORE OBSERVATIONAL NEEDS   11     Required Measurements   11     Characterization, Calibration, and Validation   16     Data Continuity   17     Simultaneity   19     Sampling Errors   19     Summary   20     References   21 3   PAYLOAD SENSOR CHARACTERISTICS   22     Payload Design and Accommodation Requirements   22     Currently Planned Sensors   23     Sensor Costs   26     Future Sensor Designs: Implications of Advanced Technologies   26     Summary   30 4   SMALL SATELLITE BUSES   31     Capabilities of Small Satellite Buses   31     Spacecraft Bus Costs   32     Utility of "Commercial" Spacecraft   33     Spacecraft Capability as a Payload Design Parameter   34     Principal Investigator-led Projects   34     Future Trends   35     Summary   35     References   36

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The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs 5   SMALL LAUNCH VEHICLES   37     Small Launch Vehicles for EOS and NPOESS   38     Summary   40 6   SMALL SATELLITES AND MISSION ARCHITECTURES   41     Options for Distributing Sensors   41     Cost-effectiveness of Small Satellite Architectures   43     Summary   48     References   50 7   OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES IN MANAGING SMALL SATELLITE SYSTEMS   51     Programmatic Approaches to Technical Issues   51     Risks   52     Summary   56     References   57 8   FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS   58     Mission Costs   58     Meeting Mission Goals: Opportunities with Small Satellites   59     Operational and Research Earth Observations   59     Payloads   60     Satellite Buses   61     Launch Vehicles   61     Mission Architectures   61     System Management   62     Summary   63     APPENDIXES         A STATEMENT OF TASK   67     B EFFECTS OF TECHNOLOGY ON SENSOR SIZE AND DESIGN   69     C U.S. LAUNCH VEHICLES FOR SMALL SATELLITES   77     D CASE STUDIES   82     E ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS   90