CH Seminar – Bart Forman

A Monolithic Shift from the Monolith:

Towards a Smallsat Constellation Configuration for Global Snow Mass Characterization


Presented by:

Bart Forman


Associate Professor

The Deborah J. Goodings Professor in Engineering for Global Sustainability

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

University of Maryland

The global snow science community has reached consensus on few topics, but is in overall agreement that no single measurement device – be it ground-based, airborne, or space-borne – can accurately measure snow mass at all places on Earth and at all times of the snow season. However, many snow science discussions revolve around the idea of building a singluar, monothilic, space-borne sensor in order to quantify terrestrial snow mass. This talk is an attempt to move away from that discussion and toward the notion of a distributed sets of sensors installed on “smallsats’’ (e.g., cubesats, nanosats) where each sensor has its own strengths (and weaknesses) but where the collective sum of all of the sensors yields the most “bang for our buck’’ in terms of global snow mass characterization across the globe during all times of the year. In an effort to find this optimal, hypothetical satellite configuration (while adhering to a specified budget), the study presented here employs NASA’s Land Information System (LIS) in conjunction with the Tradespace Analysis Tool for Constellations (TAT-C) to explore potential combinations of existing and future space-based sensors. For a given orbital configuration and mix of sensors, these simulations help quantify how much of the global seasonal snow can be observed, how often, with what footprint size and spacing, and with what swath width. Such information will be highly valuable for informing discussions on future snow mission concepts. It will also highlight where modeling efforts can provide the greatest impact and perhaps indicate the parameters needing the greatest improvements in terms of accuracy or precision. The results of the simulations will help make progress toward accurate global snow products.


Date: August 19, 2019

Time: 3:30pm (CST)

Venue: 1261 NHRC seminar room


Meeting number (access code): 921 356 969