Connected Autonomous Space Environment Sensors (CASES)

Period of Performance: 10/31/2008 - 10/31/2010


Phase 2 STTR

Recipient Firm

Atmospheric & Space Technology Research
5777 Central Avenue, Suite 221
Boulder, CO 80301
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

Cornell University
426 Phillips Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
Institution POC


This Phase-II proposal addresses Air Force STTR Topic AF07-T031 (Robust, Autonomous, Inexpensive Space Weather Sensors), which was released with the objective to develop robust, autonomous, low-cost sensors to deliver near real-time, three-dimensional space environmental data. The Air Force requires accurate knowledge of the ionospheric environment in order to understand and predict the ionospheric impacts on vital radio-based systems. One of todays key strategies for the US military is force multiplication through information dominance. The information dominance comes from accurate, high-resolution knowledge of the space weather environment. Ionospheric weather includes gradients and irregularities that affect transionospheric UHF and L-band line-of-sight propagation (scintillation) and VHF/HF sky-wave and scatter propagation. Such disturbances lead to communication and navigation outages with operational impacts on the war fighter. Our approach to obtaining an actionable ionospheric specification at the theater scale and smaller (including irregularities, scintillation, and gradients) consists of developing an array of novel, inexpensive, highly capable space-weather GPS sensors whose data are are relayed over a network to a server that invokes assimilation models to invert the data, yielding an ionospheric specification in a form that is usable by the warfighter. This is the Connected Autonomous Space Environment Sensors (CASES) system. BENEFIT: The Phase-II work proposed here will carry development of the CASES GPS sensor and the complete ionospheric weather specification system to the point where they are readily commercialized. Specifically, the sensor hardware will advance from the brass-board stage to the advanced prototype stage; the Phase I software will be extended to support robust tracking during scintillation and to generate the ionospheric observables of interest---TEC, amplitude, phase, and scintillation severity parameters---on all channels; a simple Ethernet-based data retrieval network will be developed; and centralized assimilation of the data and generation of a useful ionospheric specification will be demonstrated during deployment of a CASES array in the field. This Phase-II proposal identifies the major challenges to the development of both an enhanced GPS instrument, and an ionospheric weather specification system. The Phase-II proposal describes a clear path to the production of a commercially available instrument, via hardware and software development, so that the Air Force will have a low-cost, instrument with enhanced capabilities available for operational purposes. Both the enhanced GPS sensor and the space weather specification system are "dual use" and have multiple commercial applications as described in the proposal. A large commercial market is anticipated.