|The COVE tool allows a user to view where a satellite could potentially take an image. The above image shows the ground swath of both Landsat 7 (red) and Landsat 8 (green) over a one day period.|
|The COVE tool allows a user to see possible coincidences of two satellites. The above image shows the coincidences of ALOS-2 with Landsat 7 over a one week period.|
Mission planning is another task which includes the prediction of satellite orbits, a task the COVE tool was well equipped for. However, in mission planning exercises, the orbit data of the satellite is unknown. Based on this need, we wanted to extend COVE to include customized missions, in which the user could define the orbit parameters and the COVE tool would then predict the orbit of the customized mission through a numerical propagation. I had the opportunity to be the lead developer for this new feature, which recently went live and can be accessed through the Custom Missions tab on the right of the COVE tool, as shown in the video below. This is an important addition to the COVE tool, as it allows for better planning of potential future missions and will hopefully help to improve satellite coverage of Earth in the future.
00:07:04 - The "Custom" Missions and Instruments tab shows a list of the current user's custom missions. Currently, we do not have any custom missions.
00:09:03 - To create a custom mission, choose "Custom Missions" on the right panel. First, we need to "Add Mission." Once we have a mission we can add additional instruments to the instrument or delete the mission.
00:20:15 - After choosing a mission name, we need to decide if we want to use an existing mission's orbit or define a custom orbit. We want to create a custom orbit. Clicking on "Custom defined orbit" gives three more options. A circular orbit is the most basic and for the novice user. A repeating sun synchronous orbit is a subset of circular orbits that must cover each area around the same time. For example, if the satellite passes over Hampton, VA at 10:00 AM, its next pass over Hampton should also be at 10:00 AM. The advanced orbit is for the experienced user and allows full control over the orbital parameters. We will create a repeating sun synchronous orbit, similar to Landsat 8.
00:33:14 - When creating a repeating sun synchronous orbit, the altitude given is only an estimate as only certain inclination/altitude pairs are able to repeat. Thus, the user has the option to calculate the inclination and altitude that will be used.
00:37:24 - The instrument and mode, along with the altitude of the orbit we just defined, determine the swath size of the potential images the satellite will be able to take.
00:49:23 - We need to define "Field of View" and "Pointing Angle" of the instrument. We will also choose "Daylight only," our custom mission will only take images during the daylight hours. This is useful because many optical satellites, such as Landsat 8 are "Daylight only" since they cannot take good optical images at night.
01:02:06 - We will now choose a date range over which we will propagate the orbit to see what our satellite's path will look like.
01:21:18 - We can now see what path our satellite will take during the daylight hours, since we chose "Daylight only."
This project was only possible thanks to other key AMA associates involved, namely Shaun Deacon--project lead and aerospace engineer, Andrew Cherry--developer and ODU graduate, and Jesse Harrison--developer.