An onboard processing mission concept is under development for a possible Direct Broadcast capability for the HyspIRI mission, a Hyperspectral remote sensing mission under consideration for launch in the next decade. The concept would intelligently spectrally and spatially subsample the data as well as generate science products onboard to enable return of key rapid response science and applications information despite limited downlink bandwidth. This rapid data delivery concept focuses on wildfires and volcanoes as primary applications, but also has applications to vegetation, coastal flooding, dust, and snow/ice applications.
Operationally, the HyspIRI team would define a set of spatial regions of interest where specific algorithms would be executed. For example, known coastal areas would have certain products or bands downlinked, ocean areas might have other bands downlinked, and during fire seasons other areas would be processed for active fire detections. Ground operations would automatically generate the mission plans specifying the highest priority tasks executable within onboard computation, setup, and data downlink constraints.
The spectral bands of the TIR (thermal infrared) instrument can accurately detect the thermal signature of fires and send down alerts, as well as the thermal and VSWIR (visible to shortwave infrared) data corresponding to the active fires. Active volcanism also produces a distinctive thermal signature that can be detected onboard to enable spatial subsampling. Onboard algorithms and ground-based algorithms suitable for onboard deployment are mature. On HyspIRI, the algorithm would perform a table-driven temperature inversion from several spectral TIR bands, and then trigger downlink of the entire spectrum for each of the hot pixels identified.
Ocean and coastal applications include sea surface temperature (using a small spectral subset of TIR data, but requiring considerable ancillary data), and ocean color applications to track biological activity such as harmful algal blooms. Measuring surface water extent to track flooding is another rapid response product leveraging VSWIR spectral information.