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  • Author or Editor: Thomas F. Lee x
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Steven D. Miller, Cynthia L. Combs, Stanley Q. Kidder, and Thomas F. Lee


The next-generation U.S. polar-orbiting environmental satellite program, the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), promises unprecedented capabilities for nighttime remote sensing by way of the day/night band (DNB) low-light visible sensor. The DNB will use moonlight illumination to characterize properties of the atmosphere and surface that conventionally have been limited to daytime observations. Since the moon is a highly variable source of visible light, an important question is where and when various levels of lunar illumination will be available. Here, nighttime moonlight availability was examined based on simulations done in the context of Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS)/DNB coverage and sensitivity. Results indicate that roughly 45% of all JPSS-orbit [sun-synchronous, 1330 local equatorial crossing time on the ascending node (LTAN)] nighttime observations in the tropics and midlatitudes would provide levels of moonlight at crescent moon or greater. Two other orbits, 1730 and 2130 LTAN, were also considered. The inclusion of a 2130 LTAN satellite would provide similar availability to 1330 LTAN in terms of total moonlit nights, but with approximately a third of those nights being additional because of this orbit’s capture of a different portion of the lunar cycle. Nighttime availability is highly variable for near-terminator orbits. A 1-h shift from the 1730 LTAN near-terminator orbit to 1630 LTAN would nearly double the nighttime availability globally from this orbit, including expanded availability at midlatitudes. In contrast, a later shift to 1830 LTAN has a negligible effect. The results are intended to provide high-level guidance for mission planners, algorithm developers, and various users of low-light applications from these future satellite programs.

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Jinbo Wang, Lee-Lueng Fu, Bo Qiu, Dimitris Menemenlis, J. Thomas Farrar, Yi Chao, Andrew F. Thompson, and Mar M. Flexas


The wavenumber spectrum of sea surface height (SSH) is an important indicator of the dynamics of the ocean interior. While the SSH wavenumber spectrum has been well studied at mesoscale wavelengths and longer, using both in situ oceanographic measurements and satellite altimetry, it remains largely unknown for wavelengths less than ~70 km. The Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite mission aims to resolve the SSH wavenumber spectrum at 15–150-km wavelengths, which is specified as one of the mission requirements. The mission calibration and validation (CalVal) requires the ground truth of a synoptic SSH field to resolve the targeted wavelengths, but no existing observational network is able to fulfill the task. A high-resolution global ocean simulation is used to conduct an observing system simulation experiment (OSSE) to identify the suitable oceanographic in situ measurements for SWOT SSH CalVal. After fixing 20 measuring locations (the minimum number for resolving 15–150-km wavelengths) along the SWOT swath, four instrument platforms were tested: pressure-sensor-equipped inverted echo sounders (PIES), underway conductivity–temperature–depth (UCTD) sensors, instrumented moorings, and underwater gliders. In the context of the OSSE, PIES was found to be an unsuitable tool for the target region and for SSH scales 15–70 km; the slowness of a single UCTD leads to significant aliasing by high-frequency motions at short wavelengths below ~30 km; an array of station-keeping gliders may meet the requirement; and an array of moorings is the most effective system among the four tested instruments for meeting the mission’s requirement. The results shown here warrant a prelaunch field campaign to further test the performance of station-keeping gliders.

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