IOD-1 GEMS (In Orbit Demonstration-1 / Global Environmental Monitoring Satellite)
US-based OMS (Orbital Micro Systems Ltd.) will launch their microwave radiometer aboard the 3U CubeSat to retrieve temperature, humidity and precipitation measurements. If successful, OMS plans a 40-strong constellation of similar satellites. 1)
OMS is moving into Britain because of the support offered to new space firms. Originating in Boulder, Colorado, the company is opening a data-processing center in Harwell, Oxfordshire, and a hardware facility in Glasgow, Scotland. "The UK's In-Orbit Demonstration program is unique; it doesn't exist anywhere else," says OMS CEO William Hosack. "The speed with which we were able to integrate into the UK space ecosystem and start the conversation is blazingly fast. "And for small companies in space that's really important - we don't have the luxury of waiting around 10 years to launch our satellite; we need to do it inside 18 months," he told BBC News.
In December 2017, OMS signed a contract with the Satellite Applications Catapult of Harwell Campus, Didcot, Oxfordshire, to put its miniaturized weather observation technology into space. The mission is part of the IOD (In Orbit Demonstration) Program, funded by Innovate UK and managed by the Catapult. 2) 3)
The IOD space mission will deliver the first OMS satellite to orbit, and is expected to immediately change the global availability of weather data by delivering detailed weather information which complements data available from the large institutional satellites that are currently in use. Using a number of innovative engineering techniques, OMS has reduced the footprint from satellites weighing up to 2,500 kg down to a package the size of a shoebox. Just as importantly, OMS technology reduces weather satellite deployment costs by some 95%.
The payload, consisting of a 10 x 10 x 15 cm sized instrument in a 3U CubeSat satellite, will be launched in autumn 2018 by NanoRacks and put into low earth orbit via their NRCSD (NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer) on the International Space Station – via NanoRacks' Space Act Agreement with NASA's US National Lab. Innovate UK has invested £1.5 million in the IOD program, which offers a CubeSat platform from Clyde Space and associated launch for four missions.
The objectives of the IOD-1 GEMS Mission are centered around demonstrating the successful operation of the MiniRad payload and providing representative data that can be used to demonstrate to potential customers the validity of the service.
OMS projects its GEMS (Global Environmental Monitoring Satellite) program will scale to some thirty-five units on orbit, providing temperature, humidity and precipitation at different levels throughout the atmosphere, with a fifteen-minute refresh rate – for any point on the globe.
OMS anticipates delivering actionable weather data to a wide variety of markets including aerospace, maritime transportation, agriculture, insurance and energy. Airlines and shipping companies will be able to plan routes that optimize weather conditions, reducing delays, fuel consumption and emissions while operating with greater safety. Reductions of transoceanic flight times by just three minutes per segment will save the global airline industry nearly one million dollars in a single day.
The vastly improved refresh rate will also allow for more accurate forecasting and tracking of major weather events such as hurricanes, and better weather mitigation planning for farmers around the world, improving the stability and security of the global food supply.
The mission architecture includes (Figure 1):
- The Payload "MiniRad".
- The Platform, a 3U CubeSat manufactured by Clyde Space Ltd. (CSL).
- The Ground Segment consisting the Catapult's GHY-99 ground station at Goonhilly Earth Station, UK and the Catapult's CEMS data infrastructure for control and processing.
- A deployment from the ISS provided via NanoRacks' Space Act Agreement with NASA's US National Lab.
- A User Segment via the recently announced ICED (International Center for Earth Data) collaboration between OMS and the University of Edinburgh.
Figure 1: The IOD-1 Mission Architecture (image credit: Satellite Applications Catapult, OMS)
The IOD-1 GEMS Mission has a nominal lifetime of 6 months that can be split into 4 distinct phases as highlighted in Figure 4.
Figure 2: The IOD-1 GEMS mission phases (Satellite Applications Catapult, OMS)
MiniRad - the IOD-1 GEMS Payload
Microwave radiance assimilation has been shown to have the largest positive impact to the accuracy of NWP (Numerical Weather Prediction) models of any assimilated observation by C. Cardinali (Ref. 10). This is due to their penetration through clouds allowing for all-weather characterization of the state of the atmosphere. Other critical surface, cloud, and precipitation parameters are derived from the soundings, and include surface skin temperature/emissivity, sea ice edge/concentration, total precipitable water, the hydrometeor products of non-precipitating cloud liquid, rain and cloud ice, and indirect detection of the rate and phase distribution of precipitation.
• March 5, 2019: Orbital Micro Systems (OMS), a leader in advanced instrumentation for small satellite missions and analytic-ready earth data intelligence platforms, announced that the first satellite in its Global Environmental Monitoring System (GEMS) constellation has been delivered to NanoRacks for launch integration. Housed in an ÅAC Clyde Space bus, the satellite will be launched April 17, 2019 from Wallops Island, Virginia. It will be put into low earth orbit via the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD) on the International Space Station – via NanoRacks' Space Act Agreement with NASA's US National Lab. The mission is part of the IOD ( In-Orbit Demonstration) Program, funded by Innovate UK and managed by the Satellite Applications Catapult. 4)
• December 3, 2018: OMS (Orbital Micro Systems) has announced it is partnering with NanoAvionics, an innovation leader in nanosatellite bus and flight-proven subsystem technologies, to conduct a rideshare mission to fly one of OMS's miniaturized passive microwave sensors. The mission will utilize the NanoAvionics M6P 6U satellite bus. 5)
• September 24, 2018: Orbital Micro Systems (OMS) has delivered their first ever commercially owned and operated, spaceborne, passive microwave radiometer for atmospheric observation to Clyde Space in Glasgow, Scotland, for satellite integration. 6)
- Employing proven technology used in many larger weather monitoring platforms, such as the ATMS (Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder) aboard the JPSS-1 (Joint Polar Satellite System-1), the innovative OMS radiometer will deliver highly-accurate temperature, humidity, and precipitation data critical for business decisions at a fraction of the cost of heritage government programs. The mission is part of the In-Orbit Demonstrator (IOD) Program, funded by Innovate UK and managed by the Satellite Applications Catapult. OMS is on track to launch six to eight satellites in 2019 to establish its Global Environmental Monitoring System (GEMS) constellation.
• December 7, 2017: The Satellite Applications Catapult, the space and data company, today signs a contract to put OMS (Orbital Micro Systems) new miniaturized weather observing and forecasting technology into space, as part of its IOD (In Orbit Demonstration) Program, funded by Innovate UK and managed by the Catapult. 7)
- The payload, consisting of a 10 x 10 x 15cm sized instrument in a 3U CubeSat satellite, will be launched in autumn 2018 by NanoRacks and put into LEO (Low Earth Orbit) via their CubeSat deployer (NRCSD) on the International Space Station. Innovate UK has invested œ1.5 million in the IOD program which offers a CubeSat platform from Clyde Space and associated launch for four missions.
- OMS, originally of Boulder, Colorado, is a leader in developing advanced instrumentation for small satellites that gather weather data more frequently and with better clarity than the large institutional satellites that are currently in use. Using a number of innovative engineering techniques, OMS has reduced the footprint from satellites weighing up to 2,500 kg down to a package the size of a shoebox. Just as importantly, OMS technology reduces weather satellite deployment costs by some 95 percent.
- Its GEMS (Global Environmental Monitoring Satellites) will record temperature, humidity and precipitation at different levels throughout the atmosphere. When the full constellation of 35 satellites is in service by 2020, OMS will be able to provide global coverage at 16 km2 resolution, with data refreshed every 15 minutes, rather than once or twice per day which is currently the norm.
- The company predicts this will open up a wide variety of opportunities in various markets including aerospace, maritime transportation, agriculture, insurance and energy. Airlines and shipping companies will be able to plan routes that optimize weather conditions, reducing delays, fuel consumption and emissions while operating with greater safety. Reductions of transoceanic flight times by just three minutes per segment will save the global airline industry nearly œ1 million in a single day.
- The vastly improved refresh rate will also allow for more accurate forecasting and tracking of major weather events such as hurricanes, and better weather mitigation planning for the global farming industry. Global food security is a major concern of OMS, and the company is confident that GEMS will play a key role in this area.
- The IOD mission will serve as the first step of the GEMS roll-out and provide the "proof of concept" for the first ever commercial space-based microwave radiometer sounding spectrometer, retrieving temperature data in eight vertical atmospheric layers.
- OMS chose to test its technology through the IOD program because of Britain's unique "space ecosystem". Having pioneered the concept of small satellites and being the global leader in the development of large constellations, Britain is recognized worldwide for its ability to foster innovation in space services. "We could have gone anywhere, but for us the UK is the center of gravity," said William Hosack, CEO, OMS.
The IOD-1 GEMS platform is being manufactured, integrated and tested by CSL (Clyde Space Ltd.) of Glasgow, Scotland, a subsidiary of ÅAC Microtec AB of Uppsala, Sweden, and is based upon their standard 3U platform, with some minor modifications to accommodate the payload. The subsystems included in platform are (Ref. 3):
- CSL 3U structure
- CSL On-board Computer (OBC) with integrated GPS receiver
- CSL FlexU Electrical Power System (EPS)
- CSL 30 Whr Battery
- CSL Double Deploy Solar Panels
- CSL ADCS (Attitude Determination and Control Subsystem) with RWS (Reaction Wheels) daughterboard and FSS (Fine Sun Sensors)
- CPUT (Cape Peninsula University of Technology) VHF-UHF Transceiver (VUTRX) with CSL ADM (Antenna Deployment Mechanism)
- CPUT HSTX (High-Speed S-Band Transmitter) with SANT (S-band Patch Antenna)
These subsystems are arranged as shown in Figure 3. The total satellite mass including payload will be approximately 4 kg.
Figure 3: The IOD-1 platform exploded diagram (image credit: Clyde Space Ltd)
EPS Electrical Power Subsystem): The combination of the CSL FlexU EPS, Double Deploy Solar Panels with 28 Spectrolab UTJ Cells, and 30 Whr battery provide the required 12 V, 3V3 and BATV buses to the various subsystems and payload. A payload duty of cycle of 50% is expected to be possible within the energy budget allowed, with the possibility for a higher duty cycle with optimization during operations.
Communications Subsystems: The IOD-1 GEMS platform will utilize the CPUT VUTRX for telecommand (over VHF) and telemetry (over UHF) with 9.6 kbit/s duplex communication. This has been combined with CSL's dual, dipole ADM for omnidirectional coverage. — To downlink the larger volumes of payload data, CPUT's HSTX will be employed, operating within the 2.2-2.3GHz part of S-band. The HSTX is capable of 10 Mbit/s raw data rate, which equates to approximately 4.5 Mbit/s usable given the selection of modulation and encoding schemes, resulting a data budget of approximately 950 MB per day given the available ground stations.
ADCS (Attitude Determination and Control Subsystem): The ADCS for the IOD-1 GEMS platform consists of a version of CSL standard High Precision ADCS, incorporating 5 x Coarse Sun Sensors, 5 x Magnetorquers, a 3-axis reaction wheel system, rates sensors and magnetometers in the ADCS motherboard, a GPS receiver on the OBC, and 4 x additional 3rd Party Fine Sun Sensors for improved knowledge. The ADCS provides <0.5º pointing knowledge when in sunlight, with <2 º pointing control. The inclusion of star tracker to enable better pointing knowledge (including during eclipse) was evaluated but deemed unfeasible due to volume constraints, and as such the operation of the payload will be constrained mostly to the sunlit portion of the orbit.
Data Handling Subsystems & Software: CSL's standard OBC (On-Board Computer) forms the hearth of the IOD-1 GEMS platform and will be running on-board software developed by Bright Ascension Ltd (BAL), based upon their GenerationOne Flight Software Development Kit, enable mostly automatic scheduled operation of the platform, with scheduling performed in the BAL Mission Control Software.
Platform Configuration: The completed platform configuration with the double deploy solar panels and payload in their deployed configuration. In a nominal payload operational mode, the satellite will be orientated with the -Z face (the payload mirror) in the along-track direction.
Figure 4: Photo of the IOD-1 GEMS 3U CubeSat (image AAC Microtec, Clyde Space)
Figure 5: The IOD-1 platform in a deployed configuration (image credit: Clyde Space Ltd)
Expected Results and Impact: While the IOD-1 GEMS Missions is in the AITV (Assembly, Integration, Test and Verification) phase at the time publishing with the launch anticipated for 2019, the expected results and impacts of the successful competition of the IOD-1 Mission are threefold: those specific to the payload, those enabling the follow up constellation and those to the wide UK space industry.
Expected IOD-1 Mission Results: Successful completion of the IOD-1 GEMS Mission by the end of 2019 would provide OMS with verification that the MiniRad sensor design works correctly and provide an initial data sets to prime the pipes of the downstream value add services that will utilize the data provided by the operational GEMS constellation. — The successful completion will also mark a milestone for the Catapult, proving that it can lead delivery of small satellite mission to the benefit of its partner companies and consortia in a short 18-month timescale.
Future GEMS Constellation: Successful completion of the IOD-1 GEMS mission is an enabling step to OMS deploying its GEMS (Global Environmental Monitoring System) which will record temperature, humidity and precipitation at different levels throughout the atmosphere. When the full constellation of 35-40 satellites is in service, OMS will be able to provide global coverage at 16 km2 resolution, with data refreshed every 15 minutes, rather than once or twice per day which is currently the norm.
Launch: IOD-1 GEMS was launched on April 17, 2019, from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility as part of the International Space Station CRS (Commercial Resupply Mission), Cygnus NG-11 (Northrop Grumman-11) on the Antares 230 vehicle. 8) 9)
The Cygnus NG-11 spacecraft is scheduled to remain at the space station until 23 July , when it will depart, deploy NanoRacks customer CubeSats into a higher orbit, and then have an extended mission in orbit until December before it will dispose of several tons of trash during a scheduled fiery reentry and destruction in Earth's atmosphere.
Orbit: Near-circular orbit, altitude of ~ 400 km, inclination = 51.6º, period of ~ 92 minutes.
Sensor complement (MiniRad)
MiniRad (Miniaturized Microwave Radiometer)
MiniRad is a passive microwave radiometer capable of measuring temperature at different levels of the atmosphere. The resulting data has a wide range of applications from improved weather forecasting, better crop yields and safer and more efficient route planning for aviation and shipping (Ref. 3).
Microwave radiance assimilation has been shown to have the largest positive impact to the accuracy of numerical weather prediction (NWP) models of any assimilated observation by Cardinali. 10) This is due to their penetration through clouds allowing for all-weather characterization of the state of the atmosphere. Other critical surface, cloud, and precipitation parameters are derived from the soundings, and include surface skin temperature/emissivity, sea ice edge/concentration, total precipitable water, the hydrometeor products of non-precipitating cloud liquid, rain and cloud ice, and indirect detection of the rate and phase distribution of precipitation.
Measurement principle: IOD-1 is the initial step in the OMS GEMS constellation which is the first commercially owned and operated space-based radiometer at the 118.75 GHz oxygen resonance. This radiometer will provide vertical retrieval of atmospheric temperature profiles from 0 to 30 km by using a cross-track scanning sounder with 8 channels in the 118.75 GHz oxygen resonance band for temperature retrievals. These highly sensitive radiometers can probe closer to the ground by measuring as high as 6 GHz off the center frequency.
Payload heritage: The 118 GHz oxygen band, while well-known from airborne demonstrations is a relatively new radiometric measurement from space. The China Meteorological Administration's (CMA) MicroWave Humidity Sounder-2 (MWHS-2) on-board the FY- 3C (Feng-Yun-3C) polar orbiting satellite launched in 2013 operates a 118 GHz spectrometer for which the data has been successfully assimilated into the ECMWF forecast model. The choice of band at a higher frequency, as opposed to current temperature sounders observing in the oxygen band at 50-57 GHz, allows for the payload (i.e. reflector aperture) to be smaller while maintaining high spatial resolution. OMS developed and demonstrated the 118 GHz radiometer on an aircraft platform prior to the IOD-1 mission and an experimental version of the instrument is due to launch in 2019 (NASA IceBridge and PolarCube).
Payload configuration and operation: The OMS sounder has a spinning offset parabolic main reflector that is unshrouded and supported by a boom appendage that extends from the spacecraft (Figure NO TAG#). The boom is mechanically deployed after launch which minimizes reaction torque on the vehicle when compared to other CubeSat designs where the entire instrument (reflector, feed horns, electronics, shroud, etc.) rotates. In addition, it enables full (along-track and across-track) Nyquist spatial sampling by achieving the necessary 1 Hz rate of mirror rotation, an unobstructed view of cold space for calibration, and precise compensation of spillover radiation. The instrument power consumption is less than 8 W and the instrument produces lower data downlink needs as compared to imagers which ideally suits it for CubeSat platforms.
Data product and uses: Data will be downlinked to the Catapult's Ground Segment and then data will be brought into OMS's ICED (International Center for Earth Data) which is responsible for ingestion, data processing, storage, and distribution. ICED is an international collaboration of academic and commercial entities who are leveraging their respective skills and new data sources to meet new data needs. Customers will be able to securely access the ICED environment to update subscriptions, retrieve data on demand, and leverage the common cloud services for their own proprietary data, algorithms, and analytics. Customers include those who are impacted by weather or the environment, including transpiration, energy, food production and insurance.
Enabling the next step development: OMS is designing new small satellite sensors and platforms to provide low latency and high spatial resolution data products and services to enable actionable weather intelligence. OMS is working toward a constellation architecture with the information gained during the IOD-1 mission.
Some background: 11)
Beginning in the mid 1990's, weather data began a transition from a high science data only used by the military, researchers, and the largest of risk mitigation practices, to a tool used in all aspects of business across countless markets. Today the use of weather data is prolific and will only continue to be integrated deeper into business and market operations. As rapid as the growth of weather data usage has been, there is still a substantial amount of the Earth's surface and atmosphere that remain under observed. To date, the primary providers of weather data have been government agencies such as NASA, NOAA, US Air Force, ESA, EUMETSAT, JAXA, etc. As with any new technical industry that stems from government research and development, there comes a day when private industry will become the leader and technology driver. OMS intends to facilitate that transition by leading the way as a premium commercial alternative in weather data acquisition.
Here's how OMS works:
1) Our state-of-the-art microwave sensor is the core instrument of our satellites. It observes two channels, water and oxygen. Infrared cameras are focused on temperature wavelength and filtered visible cameras offer NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index).
2) Primary observation data includes temperature and moisture measurements. These two pieces of information can be combined to monitor a vast array of weather events.
3) The weather data is consolidated at our terrestrial control center. It can be delivered to you via VPN (Virtual Private Network), directly over the web, or in a writable package. There are a number of other delivery methods.
4) Data can be made available whenever and wherever you require. It may flow internally or be distributed to client-designated rework or analytics partners.
5) The data we provide is used by our clients for financial modeling, catastrophe preparation, risk mitigation, agriculture, transportation, and research.
1) Jonathan Amos, "US firm picks UK for weather satellites," 7 December 2017, BBC News, URL: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-42270949
2) "Orbital Micro Systems Selected for Space Mission by UK Space Applications Catapult," 11 Dec. 2017, URL: https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2017/12/11/1251043/0/en/Orbital-Micro-Systems-Selected-for-Space-Mission-by-UK-Space-Applications-Catapult.html
3) Graeme C. Taylor, Michael Hurowitz, Brian T. Sanders, Florian Deconinck, "The In-Orbit Demonstration Programme, Mission 1 - Accelerating the Demonstration of Commercial Weather Data Using Small Satellites," Proceedings of the 69th IAC (International Astronautical Congress) Bremen, Germany, 1-5 October 2018, paper: IAC-18-B4.9-GTS.5, URL: https://iafastro.directory/iac/proceedings/IAC-18/IAC-18/B4/9-GTS.5/manuscripts/IAC-18,B4,9-GTS.5,8,x48311.pdf
4) "Orbital Micro Systems Weather Observation Satellite Prepares for Initial Launch April 17," OMS, 5 March 2019, URL: https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2019/03/05/1748215/0/en/Orbital-Micro-Systems-Weather-Observation-Satellite-Prepares-for-Initial-Launch-April-17.html
5) "Orbital Micro Systems and NanoAvionics Partner on Weather Observation Satellite Launch," NanoAvionics, 3 December 2018, URL: https://n-avionics.com/orbital-micro-systems-and-nanoavionics-partner-on-weather-observation-satellite-launch/
7) "UK to send "New Paradigm" in Weather Forecasting into Space," Catapult, 7 December 2017, URL: https://sa.catapult.org.uk/news/uk-to-send-new-paradigm-in-weather-forecasting-into-space/
8) "Northrop Grumman Heads to Space Station with New NASA Science, Cargo," NASA Release 19-031, 18 April 2019, URL: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/northrop-grumman-heads-to-space-station-with-new-nasa-science-cargo
9) "Launch Date of April 17 Set for Orbital Micro Systems' IOD-1 GEMS Smallsat Launch," Satnews Daily, 11 April 2019, URL: http://www.satnews.com/story.php?number=1436432070
10) C. Cardinali, "Data Assimilation: Observation Impact on the Short Range Forecast," ECMWF Lecture Notes, June 2013, URL: https://www.ecmwf.int/sites/default/files/elibrary/2013/16937-observation-impact-short-range-forecast.pdf
The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: "Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors" (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (firstname.lastname@example.org).