Single satellite orbit design for hurricane monitoring

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Sterzing, Alex
Dutta, Atri

Sterzing, Alex, Dutta, Atri. Single satellite orbit design for hurricane monitoring. -- Fyre in STEM Showcase, 2021.


Every year, numerous tropical storms form within the Gulf of Mexico. While the majority of these storms are harmless, there is a small contingent which become hurricanes and pose a serious threat to the Gulf Coast region of the United States. In order to minimize the potential loss of life and maximize preparedness, I have designed satellite trajectories to be used in conjunction with hurricane path projections in an attempt to maximize the monitoring of storms before landfall. For testing purposes, I used NOAA HURDAT2 data for Hurricane Harvey, a relatively recent hurricane that caused record damage, as the target hurricane. The satellite trajectories were created in NASA's General Mission Analysis Tool and attempted to cover Harvey's path. These trajectories were determined by adjusting Keplerian conditions until the orbits went sufficiently through a minimum bounding rectangle and along the path of the hurricane. The coordinate data was then written to a report file where it could be analyzed with a Matrix Laboratory program to determine the overlap between the satellite trajectory and hurricane path. This data provides the amount of coverage time within the lifecycle of the storm that the satellites can provide. It was also discovered that a different initial time can provide more optimal results along the same orbital trajectory. Though this information is useful, the data is still incomplete as we cannot currently be sure if these paths are optimal for hurricane surveillance.

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Poster and abstract presented at the FYRE in STEM Showcase, 2021.
Research project completed at the Department of Aerospace Engineering.