AFRL posts first call for SEEM program

On February 14, the Air Force Research Lab posted the first call in its broad agency announcement for Research and Development (R&D) interests for the Applications of the Space Environment Project for the Space Environment Exploitation and Mitigation (SEEM) Program (FA9453-19-S-0001). Proposals are due by 12:00 p.m. Mountain Time on March 26.

Program Overview

This is a 5-year Open Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) with individual CALLs to solicit research proposals for the United States Air Force Research Laboratory, Space Vehicles Directorate, Geospace Technologies Division, Geospace Environment Impacts and Applications Branch’s Space Environment Exploitation and Mitigation (SEEM) Program for the Applications of the Space Environment project. The Air Force Research Laboratory Geospace Technologies Division (AFRL/RV) and the Space and Missile Systems Center Remote Directorate (SMC/RS) have significant mutual concerns in mitigating space environmental impact on Department of Defense operational systems.

This BAA serves as the bridge between the two organizations to collaborate on the Space Environment development efforts. This BAA is being established to conduct R&D research investigations, technology development, field campaigns, data analysis, hardware and software development, and operational demonstrations. Further, development of these technologies and capabilities for the Air Force is a significant part of the SEEM Program effort(s).

Call 001 Requirement Description

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Space Vehicles Directorate (RV) Geospace Technologies Division (RVB) Geospace Environment Impacts and Applications Branch’s (RVBX) Space Environment Exploitation and Mitigation (SEEM) program is interested in applied research and development and advanced technology to enhance the development and implementation of space environment models and sensors to meet various Air Force space weather system needs in order to specify, forecast, mitigate, and exploit environmental impacts on Department of Defense (DoD) space and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) systems.  The SEEM Program full text FA9453-19-S-0001 outlines the general objectives of the Technical Topic Area A: Solar, Solar Wind, and Ionospheric Effects of this CALL.

As part of the SEEM Program research mission requirements, there is a demand to ingest real-time data into regional ionospheric models that perform ionospheric inversions. These regional models inform our overall picture of the space environment, and ultimately possible impacts to Air Force systems. The ability to ingest a wider variety of data types into ionospheric models will improve the model’s performance, and provide better situational awareness of the space environment.  While the models are able to automatically ingest a variety of data types, the ability to extract data from Oblique Ionograms (OI) is currently a purely manual process requiring an operator to detect and select ionogram features to be ingested into ionospheric models. Oblique ionograms are a data source of interest, as OIs are another source that can provide insight into the bottomside structures forming in the ionosphere. Under ideal ionospheric conditions and in situations where the signal to noise ratio is 30 dB or more, it may be possible to extract data from OIs automatically. For these cases, AFRL would like to develop a process that can detect ionogram features to be ingested into ionospheric models.

However, ionogram quality often degrades due to the common occurrence of ionospheric disturbances such as D region absorption, sporadic E layers (which can include blanketing E), and spread F. Such disturbances can often result in weak ionogram traces or spread traces that may make automatic algorithms less than robust. In the harshest cases, ionospheric disturbances can render an ionogram unusable.

Under these circumstances, we wish the operator to be notified for potential intervention and be given the ability to flag or withhold both vertical and oblique ionogram data from ionospheric model ingestion. AFRL/RVBX is interested in developing a tool that scales OI features, but allows for quality control on ionograms that the automatic process flags as difficult. AFRL would like this tool to do the following: (1) scale OI for data and flag difficult-to-scale OI (2) provide a graphical user interface (GUI) for a user to perform in-the-loop quality control on flagged ionogram data; (3) develop a quality metric from the automated tool that can be used to assess whether data should be excluded; (4) assess the quality of the tool’s outputs against a regional ionospheric model.

Full information is available here.

Source: FedBizOpps