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20 September 2020 Status and accomplishments of the Spire Earth observing nanosatellite constellation
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Abstract
In a relatively short time, Spire has grown from a small start-up company to the largest commercial producer of satellite-based GNSS Earth observation products. As of May 2020, and after 21 satellite deployments, Spire now has over 80, 3U (10x10x10 cm) Cubesats satellites operating in a variety of orbit planes, third only to Planet and SpaceX in the size of its satellite constellation and growing with each launch. Spire satellites host three primary payloads: a dual-frequency GNSS science receiver, an automatic identification system (AIS) receiver for ship tracking, and an automatic dependent surveillance—broadcast (ADS–B) receiver for aircraft tracking. The Earth observations produced with Spire’s GNSS science receiver include atmospheric profiles performed by radio occultation (RO), space weather observations (slant total electron content (TEC) and scintillation indices), and GNSS reflectometry (GNSS-R) using signals from the GPS, GLONASS, QZSS, and Galileo constellations. Spire was the first commercial company to produce RO observations and has participated in a number of commercial data pilot programs with NOAA, NASA, USAF, and ESA, Over the past few years, Spire has expanded and matured the Earth observation products available and has continued to improve and grow the size and capabilities of its constellation. Spire now produces thousands of low-latency RO profiles and millions of TEC observations each day, with plans for over 100 RO-producing satellites in the full constellation. Additionally, Spire recently added GNSS-R capabilities by launching the first two GNSS-R scatterometer configuration satelliites in December of 2019, with plans for two more GNSS-R satellites to be launched in mid-2020. Due to its agility and rapid launch cycle, averaging launches of four to eight satellites every six weeks, Spire has the unique ability to improve performance and add capabilities on-orbit that are impossible with traditional, risk-averse satellite missions. Spire has provided RO and space weather data to the second NOAA Commercial Weather Data Pilot program, the US Air Force Commercial Weather Data Pilot program, ESA, and numerous NWP centers and research institutions. Spire is also pioneering the provision of Earth observation data to NASA and ESA researchers through unique data purchase programs. In our talk we will present an overview of the status and capabilities of the Spire satellites and describe the collection of GNSS-based Earth observations using the GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS constellations. We will additionally outline our plans for expanding and adding products to the Spire Earth observation constellation.
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© (2020) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Dallas Masters, Timothy Duly, Stephan Esterhuizen, Vladimir Irisov, Philip Jales, Vu Nguyen, Oleguer Nogués-Correig, Linus Tan, Takayuki Yuasa, and Matthew Angling "Status and accomplishments of the Spire Earth observing nanosatellite constellation", Proc. SPIE 11530, Sensors, Systems, and Next-Generation Satellites XXIV, 115300V (20 September 2020); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2574110
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