In this Phase II SBIR proposal for Topic S1.12: Remote Sensing Instrument Technologies for Heliophysics, we describe our research plan to build and demonstrate an all-sky imaging system for ionospheric remote sensing from the surface of the ocean. The oceans, which cover 70% of the Earth’s surface, are currently not instrumented for space weather measurements. The proposed instrument, called Ocean Stabilized Ionospheric Remote Imaging Sensor (OSIRIS), will image the nightglow OI 630.0 nm emission data and will be capable of operating from mobile and moored buoys. The OSIRIS design solution will include a gimballed platform for sensor stabilization. The proposed OSIRIS instrument design concept is novel as ionospheric imaging from ocean platforms has not been demonstrated. The objective of this proposal is to develop a flexible and modular all-sky instrument design so that it could be integrated with different types of buoys without changing the underlying architecture. The OSIRIS design will leverage the team’s experience with building terrestrial all-sky imagers for ionospheric remote sensing and use lessons-learned from building instruments and operating them on buoys to address design challenges associated with the ocean environment. This proposed study is a first step toward enabling the proliferation of ionospheric measurements from the ocean surface. It is anticipated that the OSIRIS design solution developed here for ocean buoys could lead to the miniaturization of future ionospheric imagers for CubeSat missions. The development of this new class of observing capability will be a pathfinder for future persistent ionospheric measurements from the ocean surface and addresses a critical gap in our current observational capability from the ocean surface.
We expect that the data from OSIRIS instruments when realized in its fullest will provide complementary data to the NASA GOLD and ICON missions. Future NASA missions, such as the Geospace Dynamics Constellation (GDC) mission, would also benefit from distributed arrays of OSIRIS in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Furthermore, the miniaturization of the imager in this project would be able to be transitioned for future NASA CubeSat missions.
Data from the OSIRIS instrument from buoys will support ionosphere-thermosphere research in academia, the DoD, and other federal agencies. Further, the versatility of OSIRIS would enable the instrument to be used to address multiple applications ranging from coastal security to meteorology. For example, the proposed instrument could be configured to provide cloud observations.