In 2016, the White House Office of Management and Budget and Office of Science and Technology Policy created the Satellite Needs Working Group (SNWG) with the remit to survey data-providing federal agencies and identify their highest-priority needs for satellite data. The SNWG 2018 survey placed surface water extent, surface disturbance, and surface displacement among the top ten inter-agency needs. In 2020, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory was selected to oversee and implement three data products in support of SNWG:
- SNWG 2018-2: Global Surface Water Extent
- SNWG 18-4: Global Land Surface Disturbance and Change Detection
- SNWG 18-5: Land Surface Deformation for North America and U.S. Territories
JPL, along with project partners from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the University of Maryland College Park, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Southern Methodist University, are developing and implementing a near-global Surface Water Extent product derived from Optical and SAR data; a near-global Disturbance product from Optical data; and a North America* Displacement product from SAR data. Near-global corresponds to all land-masses excluding Antarctica. North America* corresponds to the United States (USA) and U.S. Territories, parts of Canada within 200 km of the U.S. border, and all mainland countries from the southern US border up to and including Panama.
The OPERA team is led by project manager Dr. David Bekaert, project scientist Dr. Steven Chan, deputy project scientist Dr. Alexander Handwerger, project system engineer Dr. Steven Lewis, JPL algorithm development team lead Dr. Heresh Fattahi, JPL science data system lead Dr. Luca Cinquini, all at JPL. The surface disturbance product algorithm and production system are led by Dr. Matt Hansen at the University of Maryland. Dr. Bekaert manages the project, and is in charge of producing, calibrating, and validating the data. The OPERA project is managed under the Integrated Earth Mission Systems Office at JPL.
A significant portion of the team experience comes from their leadership of the ARIA project started in 2010. A joint effort between NASA/JPL and the California Institute of Technology, ARIA provides end-to-end geodetic imaging data processing, modeling, and visualization for solid earth science and urgent response. The ARIA team has experience with implementing SAR processing algorithms including automated triggers for earthquakes and produces prototype science and disaster response products. ARIA generates SAR-derived Level 2 data products from the European Space Agency Sentinel-1 mission.
SNWG program management is provided by the NASA Inter-agency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT). IMPACT is a part of the NASA Earth Science Data System (ESDS) Program under the purview of the NASA Earth Science Division under NASA Flight Projects Directorate.
OPERA project partners include:
John Jones, United States Geological Survey
The Water Resources mission area under the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Dr. John W. Jones is a civil servant and hydrologist at the USGS Water Resources mission. He is the lead developer of the USGS Dynamic Surface Water Extent algorithm and product. On OPERA he is the lead algorithm developer for DSWx-HLS product (an extension of the USGS DSWE algorithm) and for validation he is the overall lead for the OPERA water product suite. John is a member of both the Project Science team and the Algorithm Development team.
Batuhan “Batu” Osmanoglu, Goddard Space Flight Center
The Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) a major NASA space research laboratory. Dr. Batuhan Osmanoglu is a civil servant and a scientist at the GSFC. On OPERA he is the lead of the Stakeholder Engagement Program, and a member of the Project Science team.
Matt Hansen, The University of Maryland Global Land Analysis and Discovery (GLAD)
The University of Maryland Global Land Analysis and Discovery (GLAD) laboratory in the Department of Geographical Sciences. Dr. Matt Hansen is the director of GLAD and lead of the optical Surface Disturbance product suite. GLAD is leading the development, implementation, validation, and operation of the optical Surface Disturbance product suite.
Franz Meyer, The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF)
The Alaska Satellite Facility (ASF) a data processing facility and receiving station for Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data within the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Dr. Franz Meyer is a professor at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks and Chief Scientist at ASF. On OPERA he is the validation lead for the Radiometric Terrain Corrected (RTC) SAR backscatter product, and a member of the Project Science team.
Zhong Lu, Southern Methodist University
The Department of Earth Sciences at the Southern Methodist University (SMU). Dr. Zhong Lu is a Shuler-Foscue Professor of Earth Sciences and a member of the NISAR science team. On OPERA he is the validation co-lead for the SAR Coregistered SLC and Surface Displacement product suites, and a member of the Project Science team.