DoD focus on could shape future investments in weather satellites – SpaceNews

The Area Drive is contemplating future investments to enhance climate monitoring within the Arctic.

WASHINGTON — Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin final month directed the Pentagon to develop plans to arrange for the affect of local weather change and excessive climate. The brand new steerage is meant to form insurance policies and budgets over the subsequent a number of , together with investments in satellites for climate monitoring.

“Yearly we see the results of accelerating incidents of flooding, drought, wildfires, and excessive climate occasions on our installations at dwelling,” Austin mentioned in a Jan. 28 assertion. 

In 2019 alone, he mentioned, 79 navy bases suffered consequences of climate-related events.  

Austin’s directive got here on the heels of a Jan. 27 White House executive order that mentioned “local weather concerns shall be an important component of United States international coverage and nationwide safety.”

To arrange for what might be extra catastrophic local weather results sooner or later, DoD will conduct wargames and danger assessments, mentioned Austin. “We are going to embody the safety implications of local weather change in our danger analyses, technique improvement and planning steerage.”

The specifics of how Austin’s steerage “breaks down into greenback quantities” have but to be labored out, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby advised reporters. He mentioned it might take a couple of months to establish what assets could be wanted.

The navy unit primarily chargeable for climate forecasting is the Air Drive 14th Climate Squadron, primarily based in Asheville, N.C. The squadron makes use of information from floor and area primarily based sources to develop climate forecasts used to plan navy operations and to find out local weather change impacts.

Army climate satellites embody the Protection Meteorological Satellite tv for pc Program and the Electro-Optical/Infrared Climate System–Geostationary (EWS-G) which give information to the 14th Climate Squadron. The U.S. Space Force is buying a new satellite referred to as Climate System Observe-on-Microwave (WSF-M) and is evaluating ideas for a brand new Electro-Optical/Infrared Climate System constellation in low-Earth orbit.

A Area Drive spokesman mentioned the service at present “doesn’t function and isn’t creating capabilities particularly to observe local weather change” and can proceed to work with civil businesses like NASA and the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to handle climate surveillance wants.

The spokesman mentioned the Area Drive is contemplating future investments to enhance climate monitoring in the Arctic, a area thought of strategically important and the place melting ice might trigger important disruption. The Air Drive and the Area Drive have installations throughout Alaska, Canada, and Greenland together with satellite tv for pc command and management stations, and a community of greater than 50 early warning and missile protection radars. 

A research is underneath technique to “decide if further space-based capabilities are wanted to observe arctic circumstances, or if ground-based capabilities will suffice,” the spokesman mentioned.

Climate surveillance applied sciences 

Trade executives advised SpaceNews that the brand new emphasis on local weather change might create alternatives for the navy to spend money on superior sensors and to reap the benefits of decrease price satellites. They level out that the Air Drive for years struggled to replace ageing climate satellites. Congress additionally has been essential over time of the Air Drive’s climate satellite tv for pc packages.

As local weather occasions turn out to be extra excessive and impactful, the navy will want extra well timed and extra exact information, mentioned Shawn Cochran, a enterprise improvement govt at Raytheon Intelligence & Area.

He mentioned the Area Drive will be playing catchup after years of funding cuts to climate satellite tv for pc packages. “Irrespective of all the intentions, any time there’s been austerity in budgets it appears they’ve raided the capabilities in climate to pay for different packages,” Cochran mentioned. 

NASA is the nation’s lead company for local weather analysis and it might not make sense for DoD to duplicate present efforts, mentioned Cochran. DoD nevertheless may advantage from the innovation in low-flying satellites that present extra frequent observations, he mentioned. 

Raytheon is certainly one of three rivals within the Electro-Optical/Infrared Climate System program run by the U.S. Area Drive’s Area and Missile Techniques Heart. 

Raytheon, Normal Atomics and Atmospheric & Area Know-how Analysis Associates are developing competing space sensors to supply international cloud characterization and theater climate . 

Capt. Kaitlin Toner, spokesperson for the Area and Missile Techniques Heart, mentioned the analysis of prototypes ought to be accomplished in March, and one or two of the three proposals shall be chosen for additional improvement. The plan is to deploy new satellites by 2025.

John Fisher, president of Brandywine Photonics, mentioned new DoD funding might assist fill climate information gaps at decrease price than was beforehand doable. 

Brandywine Photonics gained an Air Drive small enterprise analysis contract to design a compact infrared sounding small satellite tv for pc sensor to measure water vapor and temperature profiles. This know-how can be utilized for navy climate forecasts and for detecting greenhouse gases. 

“With the Biden administration, we count on to see a lot stronger help for dual-use infrared sounding and hyperspectral land imaging satellite tv for pc within the Area Drive, Nationwide Reconnaissance Workplace, and the Area Growth Company,” Fisher mentioned. 

Cheaper small satellites and launch, and availability of optical inter-satellite hyperlinks to maneuver information are developments that DoD might faucet to get quick and dependable climate information, mentioned Fisher. A constellation of simply 14 satellites might present hourly revisits, he mentioned. And with optical hyperlinks, climate observations may be obtained in minutes.



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