28 October 2014 Remote sensing at the NASA Kennedy Space Center: a perspective from the ground up
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Abstract
This paper provides an overview of ground based operational remote sensing activities that enable a broad range of missions at the Eastern Range (ER), which includes the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and U.S. Air Force Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS). Many types of sensors are in use by KSC and across the ER. We examine remote sensors for winds, lightning and electric fields, precipitation and storm hazards. These sensors provide data that are used in real-time to evaluate launch commit criteria during space launches, major ground processing operations in preparation for space launches, issuing weather warnings/watches/advisories to protect over 25,000 people and facilities worth over $20 billion, and routine weather forecasts. The data from these sensors are archived to focus NASA launch vehicle design studies, to develop forecast techniques, and for incident investigation. The wind sensors include the 50-MHz and 915-MHz Doppler Radar Wind Profilers (DRWP) and the Doppler capability of the weather surveillance radars. The atmospheric electricity sensors include lightning aloft detectors, cloud-to-ground lightning detectors, and surface electric field mills. The precipitation and storm hazards sensors include weather surveillance radars. Next, we discuss a new type of remote sensor that may lead to better tracking of near-Earth asteroids versus current capabilities. The Ka Band Objects Observation and Monitoring (KaBOOM) is a phased array of three 12 meter (m) antennas being built as a technology demonstration for a future radar system that could be used to track deep-space objects such as asteroids. Transmissions in the Ka band allow for wider bandwidth than at lower frequencies, but the signals are also far more susceptible to de-correlation from turbulence in the troposphere, as well as attenuation due to water vapor, which is plentiful in the Central Florida atmosphere. If successful, KaBOOM will have served as the pathfinder for a larger and more capable instrument that will enable tracking 15 m asteroids up to 72 million kilometers (km) away, about half the distance to the Sun and five times further than we can track today. Finally, we explore the use of Site Test Interferometers (STI) as atmospheric sensors. The STI antennas continually observe signals emitted by geostationary satellites and produce measurements of the phase difference between the received signals. STIs are usually located near existing or candidate antenna array sites to statistically characterize atmospheric phase delay fluctuation effects for the site. An STI measures the fluctuations in the difference of atmospheric delay from an extraterrestrial source to two or more points on the Earth. There is a three-element STI located at the KaBOOM site at KSC.
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Lisa H. Huddleston, William P. Roeder, David D. Morabito, Larry R. D'Addario, Jennifer G. Morgan, Robert E. Barbré, Ryan K. Decker, Barry Geldzahler, Mark A. Seibert, Michael J. Miller, "Remote sensing at the NASA Kennedy Space Center: a perspective from the ground up", Proc. SPIE 9241, Sensors, Systems, and Next-Generation Satellites XVIII, 924102 (28 October 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2085784; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2085784
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