Mission Objectives


The objectives of the BIRD mission can be divided into 2 general topics:

  • scientific objectives and
  • technological objectives.

The overall scientific objectives of the BIRD mission are:

  1. detection and identification of hot spots caused by

    • vegetation fires,
    • volcanic activities,
    • industrial hazards, burning oil wells a.s.o.

  2. scientific investigations of

    • vegetation fires in space and time
    • burning areas and combustion temperatures
    • hot spot features like spatial temperature distribution and spread
    • fire classes and related pollutant emission
    • the estimation of the emission levels of biomass burning

  3. processing of thematic fire maps

    • to support the world-wide fire-ecological research with fire temperatures of burning areas on local scales (first time in the world)
    • by using innovative methods for increasing the geometric and radiometric resolution (Dozier-Method, Multi-Sensor Multi-Resolution Technique)

  4. volcanic studies

    • observation of volcanic regions and looking for high temperature events (alert mode)
    • regular monitoring of pre-selected volcanoes (monitoring mode)
    • event-controlled space observation of volcanic eruptions
    • study of lava lakes
    • estimation of plume parameters and the spatial ejecta extent of volcanic eruptions
    • investigation of temperature precursors of a volcanic activity

  5. investigation of clouds and atmospheric properties on a local scale

    • real-time discrimination of smoke clouds from water clouds for increasing the confidence interval of hot spot classification
    • analysis of clouds and cloud dynamics
    • improvement of atmospheric correction methods

  6. investigation of surface characteristics on regional scale

    • photometry of infrared signatures related to physical properties (aridness of vegetation, canopy temperature, etc.)
    • photometry of multispectral signatures (from VIS to TIR) related to anthropological impacts on environment

  7. early diagnosis of vegetation condition and vegetation changes on a regional scale by

    • more precise information about leaf area mass and
    • improvement of the determination of the vegetation index by using infrared channels
    • atmospheric correction based on models and meteorological information.

Besides the scientific objectives the mission has to meet also technological and scientific-methodical objectives. A group of technological objectives is related to the implementation, test and demonstration of a new class of infrared sensor systems in orbit suitable for small satellites. Especially the implementation of the cooled infrared arrays on a small satellite (less than 100 kg) is closely connected with a number of challenging technological tasks.

The technological objectives are:

  1. test of a new generation of cooled infrared array sensors adapted to Earth remote sensing objectives by means of small satellites

    • space qualification of a new integrated cooler-detector unit
    • investigation of microphonic impacts of the cooler systems on the sensor MTF and on the spacecraft attitude control performance under microgravity conditions
    • long-term stability and temperature behavior of the Stirling coolers under space conditions
    • long-term behavior of the infrared detectors and optics under space conditions
    • to study the dynamic range control of the new infrared sensors applied to Earth remote sensing objectives
    • to study the stability of the adjustment of the line-of-sight of the sensors and the pixel co-registration

  2. space implementation and test of a thematic on-board classificator for disaster warning and monitoring with investigations of

    • radiometric and geometric on-board correction of sensor signals
    • geometric on-board correction of systematic alignment errors
    • geometric on-board correction of spacecraft attitude
    • space implementation and test of an on-board orbit propagation model
    • estimation of the sensor line-of-sight within the orbit
    • correction of Earth geoid shape and local altitudes and estimation of the sub-nadir point
    • on-board geo-referencing or geocoding of thematically processed data

  3. development and space qualification of small satellite technologies for Earth remote sensing by means of multi-spectral sensor systems

    • development of methods for environmental monitoring and disaster warning
    • development of small satellite technologies for structure, power and thermal
    • conditioning to fulfill extreme requirements under low-cost constraints development of an attitude control system for small satellites with high
    • performance requirements and constraints development of partly-autonomous spacecraft observation modes

  4. development, implementation and operation of an user-oriented dedicated ground station

    • to demonstrate the feasibility of direct data reception by means of a low-cost ground station
    • to study the performance and the limits of direct data access by local users with low-cost ground stations

A short summary of the primary mission objectives is given in tab.

Tab.: Mission objectives of BIRD

BIRD - mission objectives
  1. test of a new generation of infrared array sensors adapted to Earth remote sensing objectives by means of small satellites

  2. detection and scientific investigation of hot spots (forest fires, volcanic activities, burning oil wells or coal seams)

  3. thematic on-board data processing, test of a neural network classificator in orbit The unique combination of a stereo camera and two infrared cameras gives the opportunity to acquire

  4. real-time discrimination between smoke and water clouds, cloud analysis

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Summary (http://www.dlr.de/os/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-3508/5440_read-7886/usetemplate-print/)
Instrumentation (http://www.dlr.de/os/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-3508/5440_read-7883/usetemplate-print/)