Optimized Autonomous Space In-Situ Sensorweb

Funded by NASA ESTO AIST Program (NASA-NNX06AE42G, $1,628,979, 1/2007-12/2009) and USGS VHP Program ($500K, 1/2007-12/2009)

A multidisciplinary team involving computer scientists (Washington State University), space scientists (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)), and earth scientists (USGS Cascade Volcano Observatory (CVO)) will develop a prototype dynamic and scalable hazard monitoring sensor-web and apply it to volcano monitoring. The combined Optimized Autonomous Space – In-situ Sensor-web (OASIS) will have two-way communication capability between ground and space assets, use both space and ground data for optimal allocation of limited power and bandwidth resources on the ground, and use smart management of competing demands for limited space assets. The OASIS project is funded with $1.6M for 3 years by NASA ESTO(Earth Science Technology Office) AIST(Advanced Information System Technology) Program.

We propose to develop a prototype real-time Optimized Autonomous Space – In-situ Sensor-web, with a focus on volcano hazard mitigation and with the following goals: 1. Integrating complementary space and in-situ elements into an interactive and autonomous sensor-web. 2. Advancing sensor-web power and communication resource management technology. 3. Enabling scalability and seamless infusion of future space and in-situ assets into the sensor-web. We will build a self-configuring/self-healing remote sensorweb in one of the most active volcanoes, the Mount St. Helens as a testbed, and hand it to USGS for long-term real-time volcano monitoring and research.
Figure 1: Optimized Autonomous Space – In-situ Sensor-web concept: 1.In-situ sensor-web autonomously determines topology, node bandwidth and power allocation. 2. Activity level rise causing self-organization of in-situ network topology and a request for re-tasking of space assets. 3. High resolution remote sensing data is acquired and fed back to the control center. 4. In-situ sensor-web ingests remote sensing data and re-organizes accordingly. Data are publicly available at all stages.

In-situ Element Description

An erupting volcano provides a challenging environment to examine and advance in-situ sensor-web technology. The crater at Mount St. Helens is a dynamic 3-dimensional communication environment, with batteries as the only reliable energy source. Various geophysical and geochemical sensors generate continuous high-fidelity data, whose priority depends on volcano status. There is a compelling need for real-time data, and sensors are destroyed occasionally by the eruption. Hence, an in-situ network must be self-configuring and self-healing, with a smart power and bandwidth management scheme, and autonomous in-network processing. The concept of an in-situ sensor-web is illustrated in Figure 2.
Figure 2: In-Situ Sensor Web architecture 1. Sensor nodes form logical clusters for network management and situation awareness. The data flow forms a dynamic data diffusion tree rooted at gateway. 2. Smart bandwidth and power management according to environmental changes and mission needs. 3. Remote control center manages network and data, and also interacts with space assets and Internet.


Figure 3: The relationship between different software components in the in-situ system

Space Element Description

OASIS will enhance EO-1 sensor-web architecture by adding a ground network, which will be an integral part of EO-1’s re-tasking algorithm. At present science-tracking systems acquire and process satellite and ground network data to track science phenomena of interest. These science tracking systems publish their data automatically to the Internet, each in their own format—in some cases through the HTTP or FTP protocol, in others via email subscription and alert protocols. The current operational concept of NASA volcano sensor-web is illustrated in the following figure.


Figure 4: EO-1 sensor-web concept. The science event manager processes science event notifications and matches them with science campaigns, generating an observation request when a match occurs. The automated mission-planning system, ASPEN, processes these requests, integrating them with already scheduled observations according to priorities and mission constraints.

Motivations for Volcano Monitoring

lava vinw

Volcano Geodesy: Challenges and Opportunities for the 21st Century

– Dr. Daniel Dzurisin, USGS

  • New L-band radars with short orbital repeat cycles (days to weeks) could monitor most of the world’s volcanoes at cm-scale accuracy with high spatial resolution and virtually complete areal coverage
  • Networks of continuous geodetic sensors, including GPS, strainmeters, and tiltmeters, can maintain constant vigilance even at long-dormant volcanoes (Plate Boundary Observatory, PBO)
  • Autonomous, self-organizing sensor networks can provide essential real-time information that is spatially and temporally dense in areas otherwise inaccessible for reasons of logistics or safety. Such networks can trigger event-driven data acquisitions by Earth-observing satellites, thus supporting continuous global surveillance of hundreds of dangerous volcanoes.
  • By monitoring volcano deformation in the right place, at the right time, with the right techniques, scientists may be able to anticipate the onset of shallow unrest, intensify monitoring, and provide longer term warnings of impending eruptions.


Currently, a high-bandwidth microwave link has been established between Mount. St. Helens and WSU Vancouver campus, with the generous support from USGS.


Mount St. Helens: an erupting volcano

helens2 helens1

for more information about Mt. St. Helens, click here