Category Archives: News

Students Experience the Power of Controlling Satellites in Space

Earth-bound electronic games can’t compete with actually controlling a squadron of miniature robotic satellites in space. Through the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient Experimental Satellites- Zero Robotics (SPHERES-Zero-Robotics) challenge, students compete to experience this power and excitement.

Using a trio of autonomous satellites on the International Space Station, SPHERES-Zero-Robotics gives students the chance to develop software to guide robots through a virtual obstacle course aboard the space station. High school students write algorithms for specific tasks for the volleyball-sized robotic satellites, and run them as virtual simulations on a computer and under realistic microgravity conditions in elimination rounds. Finalists have their programs sent to the station, where an astronaut loads them into the SPHERES satellites and monitors their movements to help determine a winning student team. The exciting final competition streams live at the European Space Agency (ESA) technology center in the Netherlands, European Space Research and Technology Center (ESTEC), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The competition involves NASA, MIT, ESA and the Russian Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS). It is open to teams from high schools around the world. In the U.S., many states use the competition to introduce young people to the practical applications of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

The satellites have their own power, propulsion, computers and navigation, using 12 small thrusters to rotate and move around. They have been used inside the station since 2006 to test autonomous rendezvous and docking maneuvers and liquid slosh in microgravity.

The competition is about more than feeding the satellites sets of commands; local experts help students build critical engineering skills such as problem solving, design thought process, operations training and teamwork—all skills that could lead to the development of software to enable autonomous robots to accomplish complex tasks in the future. Their results could lead to important advances for satellite servicing and vehicle assembly in orbit.

“Zero Robotics aims to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers,” said Jeff Hoffman, veteran NASA astronaut and SPHERES co-investigator with MIT. “We wanted to provide students with the chance to interact directly with NASA and space. This competition encourages them to develop their math and science skills as well as an appreciation for the physics involved in space engineering.” Alvar Saenz-Otero, the investigation’s primary investigator, founded the program at MIT.

The program helps teachers connect with students, said Shannon Bales, a STEM lead with the Alabama Afterschool Community Network, an initiative to promote positive development and learning when students are out of school. Bales said it is exciting for students to see the results of their hard work culminate with an astronaut running their programming live on the space station.

“It’s so rewarding for them and for us,” Bales said. “Last year, a parent told me their son really came out of his shell after Zero Robotics and how much he loved working on it. The program is making a difference in students’ lives and that’s why we do it.” The students have fun, exercise creativity, and learn valuable problem-solving skills, and feel like they are contributing to NASA research, she added.

The SPHERES-Zero-Robotics program provides students a unique and valuable opportunity to engage in space research and see the possibility of being a part of NASA’s mission to explore. No mere game can compete with that.

Russian cosmonaut Andrei Borisenko and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson help perform the finals of the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) Zero Robotics competition on the station.

Credit: Bill Hubscher, Melissa Gaskill
International Space Station Program Science Office
Johnson Space Center

New, Next-Generation NOAA Polar-Orbiting Satellite is Now Operational

Weather forecasters officially have a new tool in their arsenal, as the first satellite in NOAA’s new Joint Polar Satellite System has passed rigorous testing and is now operational.  Launched last November as JPSS-1 and renamed NOAA-20 once it reached orbit, the satellite features the latest and best technology NOAA has ever flown in a polar orbit to capture more precise observations of the world’s atmosphere, land and waters. Data from the satellite’s advanced instruments will help improve the accuracy of 3-to-7 day forecasts.

“Improved weather forecasts can save lives, protect property and provide businesses and communities valuable additional time to prepare in advance of dangerous weather events,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

NOAA-20 provides NOAA’s National Weather Service with global data for numerical weather prediction models used to develop timely and accurate U.S. weather forecasts. In addition, high-resolution imagery from the satellite’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, known as VIIRS, will enable the satellite to detect fog, sea-ice formation and breaking in the Arctic, volcanic eruptions and wildfires in their very early stages. This advanced modeling and imagery information, shared with international and governmental partners, will help businesses, the emergency preparedness and response communities and individuals make the best decisions possible in the face of weather-related hazards.

NOAA-20 joins Suomi NPP – the NOAA-NASA demonstration satellite launched in 2011 – giving the U.S. the benefit of two sophisticated spacecraft in nearly the same orbit. Each circles the Earth in a polar orbit 14 times a day, collecting global observations that form the basis for U.S. weather prediction.

“NOAA-20 is especially beneficial for tracking developing storms in the Arctic, Alaska and Antarctica. Forecasts for these remote regions are critical for the U.S. fishing, energy, transportation and recreation industries, which operate in some of the harshest conditions on the planet,” said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction.

JPSS-2, the second in the series, is scheduled to be launched in 2021, followed by JPSS-3 in 2026 and JPSS-4 in 2031. JPSS satellites are designed to operate for seven years, with the potential for several more years. The JPSS mission will deliver its critical data and information for at least the next two decades to support a Weather-Ready Nation.

Press Contact:

John Leslie, john.leslie@noaa.gov, 301-713-0214

Maureen O’Leary, maureen.oleary@noaa.gov, 301-713-9000

Credit: NESDIS NOAA

JeTSI at AMS 2018

JeTSI team member, Patrick Barnes presented the poster, “Utilizing MBSE to Modularly Architect the NESDIS Ground Enterprise” at the American Meteorological Society’s 14th Annual Symposium on New Generation Operational Environmental Satellite Systems . The power of Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) lies in the relationships built between the systems, activities, and functions within the model. Rather than a flat, two-dimensional view, MBSE allows for interweaving relationships in architecting a system of systems. The model can be updated to keep it current, and linked as a subset to a larger architectural model providing a view of the total enterprise.

This poster shows the JPSS ground system as a subset in the larger NOAA NESDIS ground architecture model. The NESDIS Ground System consists of segregated systems, operations, networks, and facilities. This amalgamation of systems and system of systems is often referred to as the NOAA “stovepipes.” With the transition of GOES-16 and JPSS-1 operations to NOAA, we will see an increase in the complexity of the overall NESDIS Ground System. The addition of hundreds of systems, servers, and network nodes make understanding the system as a whole a daunting task. Modern architecture tools and disciplines, such as Model-Based Systems Engineering, can be used to clearly define the as-is state of a ground system regardless of complexity.

The poster is viewable in Published Papers on the JeTSI website.

JPSS-1 Launch A Success!

The Joint Polar Satellite System-1 lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, at 1:47 a.m. PST November 18, 2017. The satellite’s next-generation technology will help improve the timeliness and accuracy of U.S. weather forecasts three to seven days out.

For more information on the launch: https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/11/ula-delta-ii-penultimate-launch-jpss-1/

 

 

JPSS-1 Launch

The second attempt to launch NOAA’s JPSS1 satellite on November 15 at 1:47 am was scrubbed due to excessive upper level winds. The team is assessing their options.

JPSS will bring the latest and best technology NOAA has ever flown in a polar orbit to capture more precise observations of the atmosphere, land and waters. JPSS-1, which will be known as NOAA-20 when it reaches orbit, will join Suomi NPP, the joint NOAA-NASA weather satellite, giving the U.S. the benefit of two, sophisticated polar satellites in the same orbit. Each will circle the globe 14 times a day, 50 minutes apart and provide full, global observations for U.S. weather prediction. Forecasters will use the data to better predict weather events and hazards, such as a hurricane’s track, and when a hurricane will intensify or weaken, identify power outages and locate and evaluate damage after a storm.

For more news on JPSS-1: https://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/JPSS-1

Countdown to JPSS-1 Launch

The Joint Polar Satellite System-1, the first in a new series of highly advanced NOAA polar-orbiting satellites, is scheduled to lift off Nov. 10, at 1:47 a.m. PST from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

“The new JPSS satellite will join GOES-16 as we are confronting one of the most tragic hurricane seasons in the past decade,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The JPSS satellite system will provide advanced forecasting on not only hurricanes, but also dangerous weather events threatening communities across the United States.”

The satellite, called JPSS-1, will provide meteorologists with a variety of observations, such as atmospheric temperature and moisture, sea-surface temperature, ocean color, sea ice cover, volcanic ash and fire detection. Forecasters will be able to use the data to better predict weather events and hazards, such as a hurricane’s track, and when a hurricane will intensify or weaken, as well as identifying power outages in addition to locating and evaluating damage following a storm.

Circling the globe 14 times a day

JPSS-1, which will be known as NOAA-20 when it reaches polar orbit, will join the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP), a joint NOAA-NASA weather satellite, giving the U.S. the benefit of two, sophisticated polar satellites in the same orbit. Each will circle the globe 14 times a day, 50 minutes apart and provide full, global observations for U.S. weather prediction. After it successfully clears the on-orbit test phase, NOAA-20 will become the nation’s primary polar weather satellite and Suomi NPP will become its back up.

“Having two advanced polar satellites in the same orbit will ensure our numerical weather models have the necessary, critical data to support forecasts up to seven days ahead of extreme weather events,” said Stephen Volz, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service.

“Eighty-five percent of the data flowing into our weather forecast models come from polar-orbiting satellites, such as Suomi NPP and the new JPSS series,“ said Louis W. Uccellini, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “Using polar satellite data, we have been able to provide emergency managers with more accurate forecasts, allowing them to pre-position equipment and resources days before a storm. JPSS will continue this trend.”

Major Upgrade

The five next-generation instruments on JPSS will be a major upgrade from NOAA’s legacy polar-orbiting satellites. JPSS will provide more detailed information about atmospheric temperature and air moisture leading to more accurate near-term weather predictions. Over longer timescales, this data will help improve our understanding of climate patterns that influence the weather, such as El Nino and La Nina.

The JPSS program is a partnership between NOAA and NASA that will oversee all the satellites in the series. NOAA funds and manages the program, operations and data products. NASA develops and builds the instruments, spacecraft and ground system and launches the satellites for NOAA.

“The launch of JPSS-1 continues the strong, decades-long partnership between NOAA and NASA in developing state-of-the-art Earth observation satellites,” said Sandra Smalley, director of NASA’s Joint Agency Satellite Division. “We are proud to contribute to NOAA’s continued leadership in critical weather forecasting throughout the entire JPSS series.”

Ball Aerospace designed and built the JPSS-1 satellite bus, and Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite instrument, integrated all five of the spacecraft’s instruments and performed satellite-level testing and launch support. Raytheon Corporation built the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite and the Common Ground System. Harris Corporation built the Cross-track Infrared Sounder. Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems built the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder and the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System instrument.

NASA-TV will cover the launch live and can be viewed at www.nasa.gov/ntv, starting at 1:15 a.m. PST on November 10.

Credit: NOAA, https://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/content/jpss-1-press

JeTSI on M2 Strategy NESDIS Team

JeTSI is pleased to be part of M2 Strategy‘s NOAA NESDIS Team along with INNOVIM and Bryce Space & Technology. M2 Strategy was awarded a three-year contract with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to provide Strategic Planning, Enterprise Architecture, Human Capital and Program/Portfolio Management consulting services to the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) on August 3, 2017.

To read more about the Contract, please visit M2 Strategy’s release: http://www.m2strategy.com/m2-strategy-awarded-a-3-year-contract-with-nesdis/

 

JeTSI at NOAA 2017 Satellite Conference

JeTSI presented “Open R2O Architecture – Reducing the Cost of Entry for Science Applications,” by Dr. Stephen Marley and Patrick Barnes at  NOAA’s 2017 Satellite Conference. The poster demonstrates a new approach to the Research-to-Operations (R2O) algorithm life cycle that leverages commodity cloud services, agile algorithm development, and open access to NOAA observational assets. Built around rigorous algorithm architecture models, an open algorithm development API and a scalable algorithm execution architecture, the “Open R2O Architecture” significantly reduces the cost of entry to perform basic research, provides high-throughput product generation services, and provides value-added end-user services.

 

JeTSI to Participate in NOAA’s 2017 Satellite Conference

JeTSI will be presenting a poster at NOAA’s 2017 Satellite Conference at the City College of New York, July 17 – 20. The poster will demonstrate a new approach to the Research-to-Operations (R2O) algorithm life cycle that leverages commodity cloud services, agile algorithm development, and open access to NOAA observational assets. Built around rigorous algorithm architecture models, an open algorithm development API and a scalable algorithm execution architecture, the “Open R2O Architecture” significantly reduces the cost of entry to perform basic research, provides high-throughput product generation services, and provides value-added end-user services.

The poster, “Open R2O Architecture – Reducing the Cost of Entry for Science Applications,” by Dr. Stephen Marley and Patrick Barnes, JeTSI, will be viewable on our website after the conference.

JeTSI on INNOVIM Small Business Team

JeTSI is pleased to announce that we are on the small business INNOVIM Team selected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for a Professional and Technical (ProTech) Satellite Domain contract award as part of a suite of multiple Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts.

JeTSI is looking forward to working with the INNOVIM team and NOAA in providing systems engineering and architecture services to manage the Nation’s operational and environmental satellites of today and in the future. These satellites are used to forecast weather, analyze the environment and climate phenomena, and monitor hazardous conditions as well as provide proactive response and environmental intelligence. INNOVIM ProTech Team SOW Areas are listed in the team resource brochure.

Review the INNOVIM ProTech Team brochure to see how we can help meet your needs.

JeTSI Innovim Team ProTech Announcement