How NOAA Uses DoDAF to Support the U.S. Weather Satellite System

Published by on November 24, 2014 at 9:00 am.

Tablet PC showing weather forecast on screen with a cup of coffeeOver time, people have come to rely on weather reports to the point that we take the reports themselves for granted, and don’t even consider how those reports are generated and delivered to us. Very little thought is given to the systems that deliver that weather information to us every day, and the engineering that goes into those systems.

The Source of Weather Data

For the United States and much of the world, our weather information comes from a set of weather satellites that orbit the earth and collect enormously detailed data about weather conditions and other data points all over the world. This system is comprised of satellites that are so advanced, they can tell scientists the temperature of any 3 square meter patch of sea water, anywhere in the world, to a depth of 3 to 4 meters.

Once this data is collected, the satellites transmit their data to any one or more ground stations that are located all over the world. This data is then sent via network cables to central processing facilities located in Suitland, MD, and other locations, where the massive amount of collected data is sorted, analyzed, and presented in ways that scientists and meteorologists can use it to understand current and developing weather.

Introducing JPSS

The system is known as JPSS, or the Joint Polar Satellite System, is managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), under a mandate from NASA. JPSS took over operational control from a previous program known as NPOESS in 2011, and at that time it was determined that an architectural model was required for the new program, as the program was still in relatively early stages of development, and requirements continued to change.

The work of JPSS continues today, with a new satellite scheduled to launch in 2017, and the requirements of the program continue to evolve. This, more than anything, highlights the need for a stable architectural framework to support not only the management of requirements, but the overall architectural direction of the program itself.

Thus, in the very first stages of the JPSS program, the decision was made to utilize the Department of Defense Architectural Framework (DoDAF) as the framework by which JPSS would manage the overall architecture of the program to capture the requirements, structure, organizational entities and other elements of the program.

How NOAA uses JPSS

Just some of the ways in which the JPSS program uses DoDAF to support its systems engineering objectives include:

  • Defining the JPSS Ground System (GS), which is the global network of ground stations tasked with receiving, collecting, processing and distributing the data captured and transmitted by the orbiting satellite network.

  • Coordinating the development of the GS system, by defining the organization structure of the program, along with the actions performed by various groups and roles, and the flow of information between the different groups and roles.

  • Perhaps most critically, DoDAF was used to define the processes and data flows related to the processing and formation of data records and reports, allowing JPSS systems engineers to visualize how data would be used throughout the program, and distributed to external players and agencies.

DoDAF was and continues to be a critical component to the success of JPSS, and it’s case studies like this that illustrate why SPEC Innovations has made such a commitment to DoDAF as a key tool in the system engineers toolkit. Innoslate, SPEC Innovations’ systems engineering software, helps you manage your DoDAF products. We also offer training, consulting and other services that help organizations use frameworks like DoDAF to meet the needs of their enterprise and program requirements. If your organization is using or is considering the use of DoDAF, or is looking to enhance and optimize your requirements management or systems design processes, please contact us.


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