29 September 2017 HydroCube mission concept: P-Band signals of opportunity for remote sensing of snow and root zone soil moisture
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Abstract
We have developed the HydroCube mission concept with a constellation of small satellites to remotely sense Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) and Root Zone Soil Moisture (RZSM). The HydroCube satellites would operate at sun-synchronous 3- day repeat polar orbits with a spatial resolution of about 1-3 Km. The mission goals would be to improve the estimation of terrestrial water storage and weather forecasts. Root-zone soil moisture and snow water storage in land are critical parameters of the water cycle. The HydroCube Signals of Opportunity (SoOp) concept utilizes passive receivers to detect the reflection of strong existing P-band radio signals from geostationary Mobile Use Objective System (MUOS) communication satellites. The SWE remote sensing measurement principle using the P-band SoOp is based on the propagation delay (or phase change) of radio signals through the snowpack. The time delay of the reflected signal due to the snowpack with respect to snow-free conditions is directly proportional to the snowpack SWE. To address the ionospheric delay at P-band frequencies, the signals from both MUOS bands (360-380 MHz and 250-270 MHz) would be used. We have conducted an analysis to trade off the spatial resolution for a space-based sensor and measurement accuracy. Through modeling analysis, we find that the dual-band MUOS signals would allow estimation of soil moisture and surface roughness together. From the two MUOS frequencies at 260 MHz and 370 MHz, we can retrieve the soil moisture from the reflectivity ratio scaled by wavenumbers using the two P-band frequencies for MUOS. A modeling analysis using layered stratified model has been completed to determine the sensitivity requirements of HydroCube measurements. For mission concept demonstration, a field campaign has been conducted at the Fraser Experimental Forest in Colorado since February 2016. The data acquired has provided support to the HydroCube concept.
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Simon Yueh, Simon Yueh, Rashmi Shah, Rashmi Shah, Xiaolan Xu, Xiaolan Xu, Kelly Elder, Kelly Elder, Chun Sik Chae, Chun Sik Chae, Steve Margulis, Steve Margulis, Glen Liston, Glen Liston, Michael Durand, Michael Durand, Chris Derksen, Chris Derksen, } "HydroCube mission concept: P-Band signals of opportunity for remote sensing of snow and root zone soil moisture", Proc. SPIE 10423, Sensors, Systems, and Next-Generation Satellites XXI, 104230L (29 September 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2278511; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2278511
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