EE Colloquium: The NASA CYGNSS MicroSat Constellation

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Abstract: The CYGNSS constellation of eight microsatellites was successfully launched in December 2016 into a low inclination (tropical) Earth orbit. Each satellite carries a four-channel bistatic radar receiver which measures signals transmitted by Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites and scattered back into space by the Earth surface. Over the ocean, surface roughness, near-surface wind speed and air-sea latent heat flux are estimated from the direct measurements of surface scattering cross section. Over the land, estimates of near-surface soil moisture and imaging of flood inundation are also possible. Engineering commissioning of the constellation was completed in March 2017 and the mission is currently in its science operations phase.

Assimilation of CYGNSS wind speed data into the NOAA HWRF hurricane weather prediction model has also been studied, and their impact on forecast skill demonstrated. Level 2 science data products over land related to near-surface volumetric soil moisture content and flood inundation extent have also been developed.

An overview and current status of the mission will be presented, together with highlights of recent science and applications results.


Biography: Chris Ruf received the B.A. degree in physics from Reed College and the Ph.D. degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Massachusetts. He is the Fredrick Bartman Collegiate Professor of Climate and Space Science at the University of Michigan. He has worked previously at Intel Corporation, Hughes Space and Communication, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Penn State University. Dr. Ruf’s research interests include GNSS-R remote sensing, microwave radiometry, atmosphere and ocean geophysical retrieval algorithm development, and sensor technology development. He is former Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing and has served on the editorial boards of Radio Science and the Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology. He also served on the 2006 and 2016 U.S. National Academy of Sciences Earth Science Decadal Survey Panels. Dr. Ruf has been the recipient of four NASA Certificates of Recognition and seven NASA Group Achievement Awards, as well as the 1997 TGRS Best Paper Award, the 1999 IEEE Resnik Technical Field Award, the 2006 IGARSS Best Paper Award, and the 2014 IEEE GRS-S Outstanding Service Award. He is currently Principal Investigator of the NASA Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) mission.


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Media Contact: Tim Kane



The School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science was created in the spring of 2015 to allow greater access to courses offered by both departments for undergraduate and graduate students in exciting collaborative research fields.

We offer B.S. degrees in electrical engineering, computer science, computer engineering and data science and graduate degrees (master's degrees and Ph.D.'s) in electrical engineering and computer science and engineering. EECS focuses on the convergence of technologies and disciplines to meet today’s industrial demands.

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