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Deformation, Ecosystem Structure and Dynamics of Ice

Phase: Under Study

Launch Date: 2021

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Program(s):Earth Systematic Missions

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Surface deformation is linked directly to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and landslides. Observations of surface deformation are used to forecast the likelihood of earthquakes occurring as a function of location, as well as predicting both the place and time that volcanic eruptions and landslides are likely. Advances in earthquake science leading to improved time-dependent probabilities would be significantly facilitated by global observations of surface deformation, and could result in significant increases in the health and safety of the public due to decreased exposure to tectonic hazards. Monitoring surface deformation is also important for improving the safety and efficiency of extraction of hydrocarbons, for managing our ground water resources, and, in the future, providing information for managing CO2 sequestration.

Mission Objectives

  • Determine the likelihood of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and landslides.
  • Predict the response of ice sheets to climate change and impact on the sea level.
  • Characterize the effects of changing climate and land use on species habitats and carbon budget.
  • Monitor the migration of fluids associated with hydrocarbon production and groundwater resources.

This mission combines two sensors that, taken together, provide observations important for solid-Earth (surface deformation), ecosystems (terrestrial biomass structure) and climate (ice dynamics). The sensors are: 1) an L-band Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) system with multiple polarization, and 2) a multiple beam lidar operating in the infrared (~ 1064 nm) with ~ 25 m spatial resolution and 1 m vertical accuracy. The mission using InSAR to meet the science measurement objectives for surface deformation, ice sheet dynamics, and ecosystem structure has been extensively studied. It requires a satellite in 700-800 km sun-synchronous orbit in order to maximize available power from the solar arrays. An eight day revisit frequency balances temporal de-correlation with required coverage. Onboard GPS achieves cm-level orbit and baseline knowledge to improve calibration. The mission should have a 5 year life time to capture time-variable processes and achieve measurement accuracy.