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25 August 2008 The Boreas concept for imaging polar winds from the Iridium-NEXT constellation
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The Iridium communications satellite constellation is a swarm of 66 LEO satellites in 6 pole-crossing orbits. Iridium LLC plans a NEXT generation to be launched 2013-16, and has invited secondary "bolt and go" payloads from Earthobserving agencies. A swarm of infrared imagers on Iridium-NEXT could track water vapor and clouds to estimate the unobserved winds above the 55-60 degree latitude limit of geosynchronous satellite imagery. This kind of polar overpass data has been demonstrated to significantly improve medium-range weather forecasts by tracking water vapor features at 6.7 microns in successive images near the pole from NASA's MODIS instruments. A "Boreas" instrument design is proposed for a push-broom imager combining two miniature sensors: uncooled microbolometric cameras gathering 4- band infrared radiometry, and small star trackers providing attitude information. An autonomous instrument package has been designed with low mass, power, and data rate. The "Boreas" instrument would use the Iridium constellation itself to relay the raw imagery from 3 successive images to ground stations that would navigate the data and extract wind vectors. Wind vectors could be generated automatically for the polar caps every few hours, and delivered for assimilation into numerical weather models during Iridium-NEXT operations, during 2016-2030.
© (2008) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Dennis Chesters and Lars Peter Riishojgaard "The Boreas concept for imaging polar winds from the Iridium-NEXT constellation", Proc. SPIE 7087, Remote Sensing System Engineering, 70870P (25 August 2008);

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