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April 2020 Update

On March 26, 2020, the Surface Biology and Geology Study Team presented an update via webinar on how science and applications are informing architecture decisions for a VSWIR hyperspectral and TIR multispectral observing system. Because of COVID-19 related closures, the third community workshop was transitioned to three webinars that will take place from March to July 2020 to engage with the research and applications community on how NASA is responding to the 2017 Decadal Survey.

With 140 people joining the webinar, Dave Schimel and Ben Poulter (Co-Leads of Research and Applications, R&A) with Jon Chrone and Dave Bearden (Co-Leads for Phase 2 of the Study Plan, “Architecture Assessment”), provided an overview of the partnership between Research and Applications and the architecture process.

The Surface Biology and Geology (SBG) Designated Observable addresses science and applications for focal areas that include vegetation, aquatics, mineralogy, snow, and volcanic activity using imaging spectroscopy. Key aspects of SBG include global coverage, sufficient mission duration to detect changes, event detection, high-spatial resolution (30 m VSWIR and 60-100 m TIR), and high-fidelity instrument specifications. Since the fall of 2017, four Working Groups within R&A have provided input and feedback related to algorithms, applications, modeling, and calibration and validation, that contributed to opening up a trade space of candidate architectures (Phase 1), and to informing a Value Framework that can be used to recommend a small set of architectures to NASA Headquarters for a final candidate selection.

 Key R&A lessons learned so far have been that measurement performance, i.e., signal-to-noise, remains a dominant driver of architectural decisions, and should not come at expense of trades with spatial resolution or temporal revisit. The role of international partnerships in architectural design has played a large role given an emergence of VSWIR and TIR missions that can contribute to increased revisit and enhanced spatial resolution. Data latency via ground link options or on-board processing is also a key issue for certain applications and user groups. Overall, community input during the past two years added significantly to the initial Decadal Survey objectives.

 During April and May, design labs held at four NASA Centers (LARC, GSFC, JPL, and ARC) will evaluate in more detail seven architectural ‘elements’ or subsets of the remaining 25 candidate architectures under consideration. These design labs will result in a refinement of mass, power and volume estimates for each element and will update instrument and spacecraft costs that will be integrated with other mission components such as launch vehicles. The architecture elements include small and medium spacecraft options as well as constellations, and wide or narrow swath VSWIR design, and whisk- or push-broom TIR imagers. A Request For Information (RFI) remains open this spring for further technologies to be considered,

The slides for the first community webinar can be accessed from, and the second community webinar will be held on May 27, from 1-3 pm Eastern. The second webinar will present the outcome of the design labs and provide a format for additional community input and feedback into the recommendation that will be presented to Headquarters in June 2020. The third webinar, in late June 2020, will discuss the three recommended architectures

Stay involved for updates via twitter at @nasa_sbg on the design lab process, as well as plans to host online early career training opportunities for VSWIR and TIR data processing.

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