Concept Design of the "Guanlan" Science Mission: China's Novel Contribution to Space Oceanography

Ge Chen, Junwu Tang, Chaofang Zhao, Songhua Wu, Fangjie Yu, Chunyong Ma, Yongsheng Xu, Weibiao Chen, Yunhua Zhang, Jie Liu, Lixin Wu
2019 Frontiers in Marine Science  
Among the various challenges that spaceborne radar observations of the ocean face, the following two issues are probably of a higher priority: inadequate dynamic resolution, and ineffective vertical penetration. It is therefore the vision of the National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology of China that two highly anticipated breakthroughs in the coming decade are likely to be associated with radar interferometry and ocean lidar (OL) technology, which are expected to make a substantial
more » ... contribution to a submesoscale-resolving and depth-resolving observation of the ocean. As an expanded follow-up of SWOT and an oceanic counterpart of CALIPSO, the planned "Guanlan" science mission comprises a dual-frequency (Ku and Ka) interferometric altimetry (IA), and a near-nadir pointing OL. Such an unprecedented combination of sensor systems has at least three prominent advantages. (i) The dual-frequency IA ensures a wider swath and a shorter repeat cycle which leads to a significantly improved temporal and spatial resolution up to days and kilometers. (ii) The first spaceborne active OL ensures a deeper penetration depth and an all-time detection which leads to a layered characterization of the optical properties of the subsurface ocean, while also serving as a near-nadir altimeter measuring vertical velocities associated with the divergence, and convergence of geostrophic eddy motions in the mixed layer. (iii) The simultaneous functioning of the IA/OL system allows for an enhanced correction of the contamination effects of the atmosphere and the air-sea interface, which in turn considerably reduces the error budgets of the two sensors. As a result, the integrated IA/OL payload is expected to resolve the ocean variability at submeso and sub-week scales with a centimeter-level accuracy, while also partially revealing marine life systems and ecosystems with a 10-m vertical interval in the euphotic layer, moving a significant step forward toward a "transparent ocean" down to the vicinity of the thermocline, both dynamically and bio-optically.
doi:10.3389/fmars.2019.00194 fatcat:edvx6peqrvbbpl4ajkvmclxofu