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Concepts for a geostationary-like polar missions

Macdonald, Malcolm and Anderson, Pamela and Carrea, Laura and Dobke, Benjamin and Embury, Owen and Merchant, Chris and Bensi, Paolo (2014) Concepts for a geostationary-like polar missions. In: Sensors, Systems and Next-Feneration Satellites XVIII. SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering.. ISBN 9781628413045

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Abstract

An evidence-led scientific case for development of a space-based polar remote sensing platform at geostationary-like (GEO-like) altitudes is developed through methods including a data user survey. Whilst a GEO platform provides a near static perspective, multiple platforms are required to provide circumferential coverage. Systems for achieving GEO-like polar observation likewise require multiple platforms however the perspective is non-stationery. A key choice is between designs that provide complete polar view from a single platform at any given instant, and designs where this is obtained by compositing partial views from multiple sensors. Users foresee an increased challenge in extracting geophysical information from composite images and consider the use of non-composited images advantageous. Users also find the placement of apogee over the pole to be preferable to the alternative scenarios. Thus, a clear majority of data users find the “Taranis” orbit concept to be better than a critical inclination orbit, due to the improved perspective offered. The geophysical products that would benefit from a GEO-like polar platform are mainly estimated from radiances in the visible/near infrared and thermal parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, which is consistent with currently proven technologies from GEO. Based on the survey results, needs analysis, and current technology proven from GEO, scientific and observation requirements are developed along with two instrument concepts with eight and four channels, based on Flexible Combined Imager heritage. It is found that an operational system could, mostly likely, be deployed from an Ariane 5 ES to a 16-hour orbit, while a proof-of-concept system could be deployed from a Soyuz launch to the same orbit.