Multidirectional, Multifrequency Ship-based Meteorological Satellite Receiver Using a Virtual Gimbal

Navy SBIR 23.2 - Topic N232-110
ONR - Office of Naval Research
Pre-release 4/19/23   Opens to accept proposals 5/17/23   Closes 6/14/23 12:00pm ET

N232-110 TITLE: Multidirectional, Multifrequency Ship-based Meteorological Satellite Receiver Using a Virtual Gimbal

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Integrated Network Systems-of-Systems;Space Technology

OBJECTIVE: Develop a cost-effective direct broadcast satellite data receiver system with no moving parts (i.e., virtual gimbal), capable of receiving environmental data streams across multiple transmission bands from a shipboard environment in open ocean.

DESCRIPTION: Direct reception of meteorological satellite data in a maritime environment relies on ship-mounted antennae whose directionality is governed by a rotating gimbal. The rotating gimbal is a common point of mechanical failure for these antennae. While at sea and when broken, there may not be spare parts to repair and restore the gimbal to restore functionality. Further, older antennae may not be equipped to receive at frequencies commonly used by the legacy as well as the latest generation meteorological satellites (typically L through X bands). Such data are high value for operations and their absence diminishes overall performance. This SBIR topic takes advantage of continued technological advances and miniaturization of electronics to reexamine new, cost-effective methods to reliably receive satellite-based meteorological data feeds across multiple frequencies.

The objective is to develop an innovative multiband antenna whose directionality is governed by a virtual gimbal to help reduce incidences of mechanical failure and broaden the pool of available data. The antenna should have no moving parts, be reasonably maintainable with off-the-shelf parts, and be capable of operating in a seaborne environment. This includes accounting for reasonable size, weight, and power requirements and operating on a moving vessel subject to wind and waves. The antenna should receive at a reasonable subset of microwave downlink bands to receive meteorological satellite data broadcasts. A data rate of up to 40 Mbps is required to facilitate representative Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) direct broadcast and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) Rebroadcast capabilities. The antenna should receive Level 0 satellite data in its native format which can then be processed onboard by existing software into a human readable format. Reception of [Advanced] High-resolution Picture Transmission data ([A]HRPT) from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) is encouraged. Design and specifications should also consider direct downlink of novel and future capabilities, such as from commercial weather data vendors and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellites.

PHASE I: Determine technical feasibility of a cost-effective, ship-based direct readout data system using a virtual gimbal able to meet the technological specifications listed in the Description. Develop the initial concept design and model key components to demonstrate proof of concept. To support multiple potential optimal configurations, indicate the trade/risk space on cost/feasibility/hardening for capability to use multiple frequencies and/or wider frequency ranges, various antenna sizes, and windows for viewing the sky including an option to cover all azimuths and altitudes from horizon to zenith. For the top scenarios, perform an estimate of component costs and fabrication estimates for new technology to be developed.

PHASE II: Construct prototype(s) of Phase I design(s) for demonstration and validation. For multiple candidate configurations, clearly indicate comparative criteria for testing and evaluation of final candidate system, including cost, performance, and robustness metrics in real world conditions. For a single candidate configuration, testing thresholds should clearly indicate milestones for evaluating and improving new system technology.

System development should include development/maturation of the direct broadcast hardware system, as well as an end-to-end software prototype for converting received signals into calibrated products that are useable by downstream applications (such as forecaster usage, numerical model ingest). Software should rely on open-source languages and libraries (such as python) and be aligned with current and/or planned production standards for meteorological satellite data in Naval production centers.

Multiple demonstrations in operationally relevant environments should be planned, including in coordination with a larger research field exercise. Prototype(s) should 1) be run in near-real time along with shipborne operations, 2) test reception of multiple satellites at different broadcast frequencies, and 3) validate Level 1/calibrated brightness temperature data records against existing operational sources. Validation criteria include accuracy, latency, and processing time.

Upon completion of Phase II, the prototype(s) and a technical report outlining function and validation/verification of performance should be delivered to the Department of Navy (DON) ready for demonstration at sea.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Phase III efforts will align with the program of record to integrate the results of the Phase II work. This includes manufacture of multiple units, alignment of broadcast system into the meteorological operations processing chain, and adjusting requirements based on needs of the operational environment.

Dual-use applications include coordination with other governmental partners for low latency meteorological data (such as USAF, NOAA, and NASA), university partners using data for pedagogical and/or research purposes, and industry partners with needs for improved/cheaper/smaller direct readout of satellite data.


  1. Wallach, Jeff. "User's Guide for Building and Operating Environmental Satellite Receiving Stations." U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service, 1997.
  2. Strabala, K.I.; Gumley, L.E.; Rink, T.D.; Huang, H.L and Dengel, R. "MODIS Direct Broadcast Products and Applications." Third International Asia-Pacific Environmental Remote Sensing. Remote Sensing of the Atmosphere, Ocean, and Space, April 2003. doi: 10.1117/12.466347
  3. Mailloux, R.J. "Phased Array Antenna Handbook, Second Edition." Artech house, 2005.
  4. Ardizzone, E.; Bruno, A.; Gugliuzza, F. and Pirrone, R. "A Low Cost Solution for NOAA Remote Sensing." SENSORNETS, January 2018, pp. 128-134.
  5. DiNorscia, A.; Smith, W. and McNabb, J. "Determining the Ability to Use Direct Broadcast System (DBS) Data to Forecast Severe Weather." 99th American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting, 2019.
  6. Noh, Young-Chan, et al. "Global forecast impact of low data latency infrared and microwave sounders observations from polar orbiting satellites." Remote Sensing 12.14:2193, July 2020.
  7. Chen, M.;Fang, X.C.; Wang, W.; Zhang, H.T. and Huang, G.L. "Dual-Band Dual-Polarized Waveguide Slot Antenna for SAR Applications." in IEEE Antennas and Wireless Propagation Letters, Vol. 19, No. 10, October 2020, pp. 1719-1723. doi: 10.1109/LAWP.2020.3014878

KEYWORDS: satellite; receiver; gimbal; antenna; direct readout; direct broadcast; satellite based environmental monitoring; phased array; software defined radio; electronically steered beam


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the Navy Topics in the DoD 23.2 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at for any updates.

The DoD issued its Navy 23.2 SBIR Topics pre-release on April 19, 2023 which opens to receive proposals on May 17, 2023, and closes June 14, 2023 (12:00pm ET).

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