Supporting Climate and Earth Science Research Through NASA’s CSDA Program

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NASA awarded Spire a contract renewal to provide earth observation data through the Commercial Smallsat Data Acquisition (CSDA) Program.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the United States’ civil space program which serves as a global leader in space exploration by working with U.S. contractors, academics, international and commercial partners to discover and expand knowledge to benefit humanity.

Spire continues to partner with NASA in developing and providing innovative technologies that benefit space exploration and life on Earth.

Supporting climate research through public-private partnerships

NASA initiated the Commercial Smallsat Data Acquisition (CSDA) Program in 2017 with the Private-Sector Small Constellation Satellite Data Product Pilot Project. According to NASA, commercial datasets can provide a cost-effective means to augment and/or complement the suite of Earth observations acquired by NASA and other U.S. government agencies, as well as those by international partners and agencies.

Spire specializes in providing comprehensive Earth observation data and we continue to develop and expand our offerings. Climate change is the generational challenge of our time and datasets covering extreme weather events, climate change trends, and surface data, such as soil moisture and sea ice, can help Earth science and climate researchers perform better research, thus creating more efficient solutions to the various challenges facing humanity at this time.


A mission to enhance Earth science research

NASA’s Earth Science Division (ESD) has acknowledged the impact commercial CubeSat constellations can have on advancing Earth system science and applications development to benefit humanity. NASA launched the Commercial Smallsat Data Acquisition (CSDA) Program for the purpose of identifying, evaluating, and acquiring commercial datasets which support NASA’s Earth science research and application goals.

In March 2020, NASA awarded Spire a CSDA Program contract to provide Earth observation data in alignment with the program’s strategic objectives, including:

  • Establishing continuous and repeatable processes to bring on new commercial data vendors and evaluate data for its potential to advance NASA’s Earth science research and applications.
  • Enabling the sustained use of purchased data for broader use and dissemination by the NASA scientific community.
  • Establishing data management systems and processes to quicken evaluation and increase accessibility of purchased data to support long-term data accessibility and preservation.
  • Coordinate with other U.S. Government agencies and international partners on the evaluation and scientific use of commercial data.

NASA’s CSDA Program is a critical development in Earth science research and climate studies, and Spire is honored to have been a part of this effort since its inception. Without this program, researchers would not be able to accomplish fundamental research objectives targeted at protecting humanity and our resources on this planet. The new Task Order puts us on track to make leaps in Earth science research that we expect to have a significant impact for generations to come.

Tim Galginaitis
Director, U.S. Federal Civil Agencies

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Solution – More data. More often. More insights.

In April 2021, NASA renewed Spire’s CSDA Program contract under Task Order (TO) 6. The renewal will make Spire’s unique weather, climate, and space weather data more accessible to NASA and U.S. Government-funded researchers. Under CSDA Program TO6, Spire will deliver a comprehensive catalog of data, associated metadata, and ancillary information from our Earth-orbiting small-satellite constellation. Spire operates a constellation in low Earth orbit (LEO) and collects upwards of 10,000 radio occultations (RO) per day with consistent global coverage. Spire’s RO data is archived and maintained by NASA under the CSDA Program’s SmallSat Data Explorer (SDX) database.

 

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Surface Data

Spire’s GNSS Grazing Angle Reflectometry data (GNSS-R) can be used to measure sea ice extent, classification, altimetry, and soil moisture.

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Atmospheric Data

Spire’s precise GNSS radio occultation (GNSS-RO) soundings can be integrated into weather forecast models to improve global weather forecasting accuracy.

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Space Weather

Spire’s measurements of electron density and scintillation allow researchers to monitor the ionosphere as well as prepare for and react to weather events in space.

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Domain Awareness

Satellite state vector data including precise orbit determination (POD) and satellite altitude data can provide error correction to orbital drag models. 

Results – Unique data to study climate change and weather patterns

The program includes end-user license agreements (EULAs) to enable broad levels of dissemination and shareability. All U.S. Government-funded researchers will have access to Spire’s data for scientific purposes under TO6 and will be able to request access to the data via the CSDA Program’s Commercial Datasets webpage.

To date, various research papers have been published using Spire’s CSDA Program data. You can view these papers as well as access more information about Spire’s datasets on our NASA CSDA page.

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