This April 13, 2023, nighttime image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Center for Satellite Applications and Research uses color to distinguish clouds from fog. Credit: NOAA STAR

SAN FRANCISCO – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is soliciting proposals for research and development on microwave weather sensors, ground systems and technology to reduce interference from 5G networks.   

Three Broad Agency Announcements released April 13 reveal some of the National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service (NESDIS) priorities as the agency prepares to update its weather and climate-monitoring constellations.  

Microwave Sensors

Microwave sensors with simultaneous imaging and sounding capabilities are one priority.

NOAA’s intends to determine “whether or not it is feasible to develop a microwave sensor that could have both imaging and sounding capabilities simultaneously,” according to the BAA. “The studies will also look to evaluate the value and impact of such a sensor on Numerical Weather Prediction and extreme weather monitoring and prediction.”

Novel Ground Concepts

NOAA also is interested in funding “studies and demonstrations of new technologies and novel concepts that support reimagining NESDIS’s future approach to its ground operations,” according to another BAA.

In a recent study, NESDIS determined that it needs to overhaul its ground system architecture to support additional satellites and data sources.

“The current ground operational architecture does not scale economically and would begin to absorb a larger fraction of the projected overall budget,” the BAA noted. “The strategic goal of NESDIS is to ensure that NOAA can support the anticipated increase in the number of operational satellites and other data streams of environmental observations in the 2030+ timeframe.”

Halting Interference

Finally, NOAA released a BAA seeking ground-based, suborbital and space-based solutions to help solve the vexing problem of interference caused by terrestrial communications networks.

“As new telecommunication services, such as 5G, satellite or broadband-aviation uplinks in millimeter wave bands or future 6G are implemented … , there are potential interference risks to microwave passive sensors, to include operational microwave sensors used by the NOAA Global Numerical Weather Prediction and other environmental prediction systems,” according to the BAA. “Therefore, the objective of the study will be the generation, assessment and delivery to NOAA of a study report that provides detailed information on the identification of passive band interfering or corrupting emissions, characterizations of those interfering or corrupting emissions, reduction of the impact of those interfering or corrupting emissions, associated risks, processes and modifications needed to implement this capability on an international basis.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...