Flight Testing a GNSS Radio Occultation Autonomous System for Commercial Space Weather Applications

PI: Bryan Chan, Corey Snyder (Co-I), Night Crew Labs, LLC

Global Navigation Satellite System Radio Occultation (GNSS-RO) is a remote sensing technique that detects changes in received GNSS radio signals as they pass through the Earth’s atmosphere. The use of GNSS receivers via the RO technique has led to significant advances in weather and climate research by providing high-accuracy vertical resolution of refractivity, temperature, and water vapor information. Night Crew Labs has developed an autonomous GNSS-RO system to collect relevant data over various atmospheric regimes. The multifrequency receiver and antenna are designed to collect radio occultation profiles for more than a week at altitudes of 15–30 km. A high-speed radio facilitates data transmission.

Technology Areas (?)
  • TA08 Science Instruments, Observations and Sensor Systems
Problem Statement

Having led to significant advances in numerical weather prediction, climate prediction, and space weather research, GNSS-RO is regarded as one of the most cost-effective weather and climate tools. Despite there being operational GNSS-RO space satellite missions, gaps still exist in spatial weather data, and remotely sensing low altitudes continues to be difficult. A balloon-based GNSS-RO payload could address these issues by providing high-fidelity, persistent coverage over regions of strong interest during high-impact weather events (e.g., hurricanes, geomagnetic storms, heavy precipitation, droughts) The objective of this experiment is to collect over 1,000 radio occultation profiles and to demonstrate end-to-end delivery of data for weather data assimilation.

Technology Maturation

A successful flight test program will allow this GNSS-RO payload to autonomously collect relevant data over various atmospheric regimes and enable high-fidelity data quality assessment. It is anticipated to reach TRL 7 after flight tests.

Future Customers

Space weather research
Climate and weather forecasting
Weather data assimilation
Determining potential adverse weather by insurance and utility companies

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    TechFlights19 (Oct 2019)
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 0 Balloon

Development Team

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