Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

NSIDC Cryosphere Seminar

New and Novel Sea Ice Observations from the Spire Nanosatellite Constellation by Dr. Dallas Masters and Dr. Jessica Cartwright

This presentation will be to educate the NSIDC researchers on Spire's new L-band bistatic radar sea ice observations and classification/altimetry products that are available via the NASA Commercial Satellite Data Acquisition Program.

Spire is a space-based data and services provider that focuses on passive RF data collection from our operational constellation of over 110 CubeSats in low-Earth orbit. In addition to our CubeSat constellation, Spire owns and operates a dedicated global ground station network and a cloud-based mission operations and data processing/dissemination system. We currently provide all of our GNSS-based Earth observations (EO) data and products to NASA for weather and climate research under the Commercial SmallSat Data Acquisition Program (CSDAP). This data is available for free to US government departments and agencies for research use. Examples of our EO data that is included:

  • GNSS radio occultation (GNSS-RO) profiles of atmospheric temperature, pressure, and humidity. We currently average about 10,000 globally-distributed RO profiles per day. NASA uses this data for atmospheric research and numerical weather prediction, and NOAA uses it for operational weather forecasting.
  • GNSS reflectometry (GNSS-R) measurements of soil moisture; sea ice height, extent, and characterization; and ocean surface height, roughness, and winds
  • Space weather data (ionospheric total electron content, electron density profiles, and scintillation indices)
  • Precise orbit determination (POD) data for thermospheric density and satellite drag estimates

Dallas Masters, Ph. D.- Director of Earth Observations/GNSS - Dr. Dallas Masters has been active in the field of remote sensing since helping to develop the FORTE satellite at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1995, later receiving a doctorate in Aerospace Engineering Sciences from the University of Colorado in 2004 on soil moisture remote sensing with GNSS bistatic radar (GNSS-R). Dr. Masters joined Spire Global, Inc. in 2018, to lead the development of a GNSS-R mission, and he now directs Spire’s Earth observation (EO) program. His teams develop Spire’s EO satellite instruments and science processing systems for applications ranging from atmospheric profiling and ionospheric monitoring via radio occultation to GNSS-R soil moisture mapping.

Jessica Cartwright- Scientific Programmer, GNSS-R/ RO - Jessica Cartwright recently completed her doctorate at the National Oceanography Centre, UK, developing the use of reflected navigation signals for information over the cryosphere, in particular with regard to sea ice detection and classification, as well as glacial ice altimetry. Prior to joining Spire, Jess worked at ACE CRC, Tasmania applying scatterometry to characterisation of the sea ice zone. Jess is now focussing on the further development of GNSS-R data products from Spire's constellation of nanosatellites.


Wednesday, June 16, 2021
11:00 am to 12:00 pm





  • CIRES employees
  • CIRES families
  • CU Boulder employees
  • General Public
  • NOAA employees
  • Science collaborators


  • Seminar
  • Open to Public



Walt Meier