NASA’s Office of Earth Science Awards 11 Contracts for New Remote Sensing Instrument Technology


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has awarded funding for 11 new proposals for technology development of innovative Earth Science remote-sensing instruments under its Instrument Incubator Program (IIP).

The selected proposals focus on near term investment to support high-priority measurements in the areas of: Atmospheric Chemistry: Tropospheric Profiles of O3, CO, NOx, Solid Earth: Topography and the Deformation of Land and Ice, Global Carbon Cycle: CO2 Column Abundance and Profile, Global Water and Energy Cycle: Precipitation Rate, Tropospheric Winds, and Sea Surface Salinity/Soil Moisture and Climate Variability and Prediction: GPS Altimetry and Ocean Surface Winds.

The objective of the IIP is to invest in new and innovative technologies which could lead to future flight instruments that are smaller, less resource intensive, less costly, and require less time to build. Furthermore, by investing early in the development life cycle of an instrument and demonstrating performance in ground based or aircraft instrumentation, fabrication of flight instruments will also encounter less development risk and therefore less cost and schedule uncertainty.

The technologies selected include active and passive techniques for measuring global carbon dioxide, the buildup of which is the largest contributor to the global increase in the greenhouse effect. Also selected are instrument technologies for microwave radiometry and advanced radars to measure global precipitation, soil moisture and sea surface salinity leading to a more accurate understanding of climate change.

In addition, investments will be made in instrument technologies for the measurement of far-infrared thermal radiation, an emerging science area not previously explored, with the potential to better understand the Earth’s radiation balance. Instrument technologies leading to the potential measurement of tropospheric ozone and other gases from space will be advanced by investments in Fabry-Perot interferometer technologies. Geomagnetic measurements enabled from investments in magnetometer technologies can provide a means to study the structure and dynamics of the Earth’s interior, leading to better utilization of natural resources including water and land use and the mitigation of natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes, flooding, sea level change, and severe storms.

The investigations selected by NASA’s Office of Earth Science are:

Anderson, James (Harvard University): ICOS, CAPS and CRDS: New Techniques for Precise, Low-Cost, Airborne, In Situ Mapping of Species for AURA Collaborative Science

Heaps, William (Goddard Space Flight Center): Fabry-Perot Interferometer for Column CO2

Im, Eastwood (Jet Propulsion Laboratory): The Advanced Precipitation Radar Antenna and Instrument

Johnson, Joel (Ohio State University): Digital Receiver with Interference Suppression for Microwave Radiometry

Larar, Allen M. (Langley Research Center): Tropospheric Trace Species Sensing Fabry-Perot Interferometer

Menzies, Robert (Jet Propulsion Laboratory): Laser Absorption Spectrometer for Global-Scale Profiling of Tropospheric Carbon Dioxide

Moghaddam, Mahta (Jet Propulsion Laboratory): Dual-Low-Frequency Radar for Soil Moisture Under Vegetation and At-depth

Mlynczak, Martin (Langley Research Center): Far-Infrared Spectroscopy of the Troposphere

Slocum, Robert (Polatomic Inc., Richardson, Texas): Miniature Vector Laser Magnetometer

Smith, Eric (Goddard Space Flight Center): Engineering Development of Lightweight Rainfall Radiometer as Candidate for Baseline Global Precipitation Mission Constellation Microwave Radiometer

Wilson, William (Jet Propulsion Laboratory): Development of Ultra Stable Microwave Radiometers for Future Sea Surface Salinity Missions

NASA received 64 proposals for technology development efforts and was able to select 11 for funding. The total funds made available for these investigations averages to be nearly $1 million per year for three years or a total of $29,604,000.