Tuesday, February 22, 2011

DESDynI Update: Mission is Canceled

I just heard from my bosses that the NASA Deformation, Ecosystem Structure and Dynamics of Ice (DESDynI) mission has been canceled due to budget constraints. Between the HyspIRI mission and the DESDynI mission, the former has been given the go signal.

This is sad. DESDynI would have been the first space-borne LiDAR system. Currently, there is none.

Update on DESDynI Cancellation: Below is the report from spacenews.com to confirm that the DESDynI mission is canceled.

With U.S. President Barack Obama under pressure to rein in federal spending, the White House eliminated funding for the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) and Deformation, Ecosystem Structure and Dynamics of Ice (DESDynI) missions, Steve Volz, associate director for flight programs at NASA’s Earth Science Division, said in a Feb. 24 interview.

The multiyear budget plan NASA sent Congress a year ago called for spending $1.2 billion between 2012 and 2015 to develop CLARREO and DESDynI, two of the four top-tier missions recommended by the National Research Council’s 2007 Earth Science decadal survey. But the White House Office of Management and Budget specifically removed these funds from the agency’s 2012 budget request, Volz said in an interview.

The other two top-tier Earth science missions — Soil Moisture Active-Passive and ICESat-2 — remain budgeted for launch in 2014 and 2016, respectively.

DESDynI, the Earth-imaging radar and lidar satellite mission assigned to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., was expected to cost $1.6 billion to build and operate, a cost deemed unaffordable given NASA’s flat budget projections. NASA was told to go back to the drawing board to find a more affordable approach to the mission, one that would have NASA develop the radar element and another nation develop the lidar element, Volz said. But the start of a new development effort would have to be paid for with money now allocated for the other 14 Earth science missions NASA plans to launch by the end of the decade, he said.

About DESDynI
DESDynI is a science mission providing important observations for land surface change and hazards (surface deformation), and climatic variables (terrestrial biomass and ecosystem structure and ice dynamics). DESDynI uses two spacecraft each with a different sensor suited to these measurements. The sensors are: 1) a ~10 m resolution L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) system with multiple polarizations, and 2) a multiple beam lidar operating in the infrared (~ 1064 nm) with ~ 25 m spatial resolution and 1 m vertical accuracy. The mission uses repeat-pass Interferometric SAR (InSAR) techniques for surface deformation and ice sheet dynamics measurements, and polarimetric SAR for biomass estimation and spatial variability of ecosystem structure. The L-band SAR requires a satellite in ~600 km sun-synchronous orbit in order to maximize available power from the solar arrays. A 12-16 day revisit frequency balances temporal decorrelation with required coverage. Onboard GPS achieves cm-level orbit and baseline knowledge to improve calibration. The science mission has a three-year lifetime to capture time-variable processes and achieve the required measurement accuracies.

About HYSPIRI Mission:
The HyspIRI mission includes two instruments mounted on a satellite in Low Earth Orbit. There is an imaging spectrometer measuring from the visible to short wave infrared (VSWIR) and a multispectral thermal infrared (TIR) imager. The VSWIR and TIR instruments will both have a spatial resolution of 60 m at nadir. The VSWIR will have a temporal revisit of of approximately 3 weeks and the TIR will have a temporal revisit of approximately 1 week. These data will be used for a wide variety of studies primarily in the Carbon Cycle and Ecosystem and Earth Surface and Interior focus areas.


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