Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan


CYGNSS Scientists Visit CLaSP Science Operations Center

Posted: June 17, 2016

CYGNSS Scientists Visit CLaSP Science Operations Center Dr. Scott Gleason and Dr. Maria-Paola Clarizia

Last week, two project scientists visited the CLaSP Science Operations Center to help prepare the SOC to receive data from the CYGNSS satellites. We caught up with Drs. Scott Gleason and Maria-Paola Clarizia to ask them about their work.


Can you talk a bit about your backgrounds? How you came to be involved in the CYGNSS project?

I got my degree in telecom engineering and did my Ph.D in in GNSS reflectometry for wind and wave retrieval, which is the remote sensing technique employed by CYGNSS. I met Professor Chris Ruf at a conference in Munich just after NASA had announced the project. We talked, and a few months later I began working with him on CYGNSS. I work as a post-doc for the University of Michigan remotely, and I am hosted at National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, UK.

Like Maria, I did my Ph.D in this subject. I studied at the University of Surrey in the UK, in the exact subject that CYGNSS is based on, using reflections of the GPS signals to measure the ocean. At the time, we had a very small experiment that used a handful of datasets, but it was enough to prove that it worked in space.  Professor Ruf contacted me and said he was putting together a science team for a larger application and proposal. Once the proposal was accepted (by NASA) I joined the project.


Can you give us an overview of your work here at CLaSP this week?

We’re here testing in the Science Operations Center (SOC) for CYGNSS. This is where the data collected on the satellites ends up after it’s been downlinked, and then calibrated for wind speed estimation.  The wind speed estimation is critical for producing the higher-level modeling and storm intensification prediction that will come our of the CYGNSS project. Actual data products are created here, and then sent to NASA websites for distribution to scientists.

I’ve been coming about once a month to work on the data, taking raw data from the instruments and calibrating in the measurements so Maria-Paola can use the data product to estimate wind speed.

I am here to focus specifically on the wind speed estimation. I take the calibrated data, and then extract the wind speed parameters using the code developed at SOC. We’re testing our own prototype software against the official SOC software to ensure the output results match, and that the algorithms are performing as expected.  

This is the final step, and we need to make sure it’s correct because the wind speed estimation feeds into the higher-level data products. This is a fundamental measurement.

We’ve been working with our scripts and algorithms, processing little snippets of data here and there. But the SOC has to be able to process the satellite data in much larger quantities using the same algorithms. They have to manage all that data, archive it, and make sure that it’s publicly consumable. And that’s what we’re doing here: making sure their outputs match our outputs, and that everything is implemented correctly in their code.

There will be another major review, the Operations Readiness Review (ORR), for CYGNSS at the end of August.  During this review, the CYGNSS project will verify that the output from SOC is what they expect.  We’re here to make sure that happens, and that the code is ready in time for launch.   

You don’t want to get all the way up there and find out that it’s not working correctly. 

The ORR one of many readiness reviews prior to launch. Everything has to be complete, or scoped-out with a path to completion before launch. So when the data comes down from the satellites, and flows through the Mission Operations Center to the SOC, the code is generating the correct wind speed estimation.

In addition to taking wind measurements the wind, CYGNSS will sense waves and create another data product to be used in the modeling. All of this data will feed to up to the storm modelers who will combine this data with other measurements and hopefully improve intensification forecasting for hurricanes.

There will be also other new products, not related to wind and waves that will be generated, as well. The people who do the hurricane modeling are very excited. 

One of Professor Ruf’s Ph.D students, Mary Morris, is working on something called Integrated Kinetic Energy (IKE), which is a measure of the hurricane’s internal energy. Initially, we thought it would be good for predicting storm intensification, but this will also potentially be a measure of the hurricane’s destructive power.

So, as a storm approaches landfall, this IKE measurement would be able to help us predict the potential damage a hurricane might cause.

Thanks to Drs. Clarizia and Gleason!
Watch this space for more updates on the CYGNSS project

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