This project will develop the scientific and technical underpinnings of a SmallSat constellation to make high-spatial resolution measurements of forest structure. The bulk of the effort of this project is high resolution imaging processing development, 2) optical design, and 3) Science Traceability Matrix and project concept development. Objectives 1 and 2 are needed to overcome diffraction limit issues of SmallSat-sized telescopes to get to the required resolution. This project builds upon a recent Science Innovation Fund project to inform technical requirements for a SmallSat high spatial resolution instrument to measure vegetation structure and scene shadow fraction.
Our approach utilizes the well established stereogrammetric analyses now being used in a variety of scientific applications. This requires high resolution stereo image data in order to produce the point clouds that characterize the 3D canopy structure, This information can then be used in simple models to estimate location and fraction of scene shadows. While simple in concept the practical development of a low cost, high resolution instrument is challenging. We will explore the possibility of free-form optics plus super resolution software approaches for this instrument concept. We also will develop a science traceability matrix by providing technical capabilities in light of science requirements.More »
Recent developments of estimating vegetation productivity from space using relatively low resolution systems can be enhanced by high resolution measurements of forest productivity and structure. This work focused on developing a low cost method for inferring 3D forest canopy height models.More »
One of NASA strategic goals is to Advance understanding of Earth and develop technologies to improve the quality of life on our home planet. Knowledge of vegetation productivity is necessary for understanding Earth's carbon balance and our ability grow food and fiber for human consumption. Current satellite methods for estimating forest carbon are inaccurate because of difficulties in height estimation ( e.g., scattering center - InSAR ), and area ( e.g, point sampling by multi-beam lidar). Forest productivity can be estimated by light use efficiency( LUE) and solar induced fluorescence (SIF) using multi- or hyper-spectral sensors. However, both of these quantities are known to be dependent on canopy shadow fraction which is determined by sun-view-scene geometry. Improved accuracy requires high fidelity spatial measurements of canopy structure and shadow fraction. Affordable instruments can be built with free form optics that enable large reductions in mass and volume. New “super resolution” image processing techniques can overcome diffraction limit of lower cost instruments. NASA will benefit from this task by advancing understanding of vegetation productivity and the limiting factors to production. Innovative higher resolution diurnal measurements require new technologies such as miniaturization of optics and enhanced spatial resolution. beyond.
GSFC’s investment in freeform optics and super-resolution structure measurements combine to provide lower cost high resolution measurements necessary for measuring diurnal vegetation structure and function. This complete suite of measurement capability do not exist from space and are difficult and expensive to routinely provide from airborne platforms.
This project examined the scientific and technical underpinnings of a SmallSat constellation to make the first diurnal high-spatial resolution measurements of plant canopy structure impacts on measurements of vegetation function. The project combined studies of telescope design, detector configurations and computer science to develop concepts for future space borne mission. We were able to leverage form a concurent IIP-IDC to bring together a larger team of engineers and scientists. We constructed a ScienceTraceability Matrix to enable future mission planning. These advancements directly led to a viable mission concept for an Earth Venture - Instrument proposal effort that is that is currently working toward TMR. We were also able to begin preliminary orbit studies with unused civil servant FTEs with agreement of the Chief Technologists Office. Concept development tasks like this are improved by including outside expertise and the minimal procurement funding for this reduces the benefits.
As mentioned this IRAD support enables our team to advance our instrument concept enough to justify a proposal effort to the upcoming EVI-5 call next spring.
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