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Aerosols and Clouds, Convection and Precipitation (ACCP) Instruments for Architecture Studies

Maryland, United States
Government : Federal
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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) is seeking capability statements from all interested parties, including Small, Small Disadvantaged (SDB), 8(a), Woman-owned (WOSB), Veteran Owned (VOSB), Service Disabled Veteran Owned (SD-VOSB), Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) businesses, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)/Minority Institutions (MI) for the purposes of conducting mission architecture studies that address the 2017 NASA Earth Science and Applications from Space (ESAS) Decadal Survey (DS). The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) Space Studies Board, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences released the 700-page DS in 2017. The DS is described in the following link, where it can also be downloaded in its entirety:

The Decadal Survey (DS) was carried out by the NASEM to generate "recommendations for the environmental monitoring and Earth science and applications communities for an integrated and sustainable approach to the conduct of the U.S. government's civilian space-based Earth-system science programs." Their recommendations will, within known constraints such as anticipated budgets, advance Earth system science and deliver critical information to support a broad range of national economic and societal needs.

"Thriving on our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observations from Space" recommends comprehensive observations of Earth's changes to help understand the myriad of natural and man-made changes to the planet, and are essential to ensure a thriving society. The report addresses key Earth science and application questions, and ultimately the committee prioritized the science categories for NASA to provide comprehensive observations of Earth's dynamic environment in the coming decade. The DS identified 5 designated foundational observations to be implemented in cost-capped medium- and large-size mission directed or competed at the discretion of NASA. Two of those observations share the need for cloud-based measurements, and present an opportunity for a combined mission that enriches the science and application benefit. Those two cloud-based observations were defined in the Science and Application Summary (SAS) as follows:

Aerosol (A) SAS: Aerosol properties aerosol vertical profiles, and cloud properties to understand their effects on climate and air quality.

Clouds, Convection, and Precipitation (CCP) SAS: Coupled cloud-precipitation state and dynamics for monitoring global hydrological cycle and understanding contributing processes including cloud feedback.

Given the synergy between these two targeted observations, NASA recognizes the science merit in exploring a combined measurement system that addresses both A and CCP science questions, and enables an assessment of aerosol effects on clouds and precipitation.
This Request for Information (RFI) is in support of mission formulation for a combined measurement system that addresses both A and CCP science questions, which are identified as high priority Designated Observables (DO).


The 2017 DS science objectives of relevance to ACCP are described below. These objectives are taken directly from the DS, and they are not listed in order of priority.

DS Science Objectives of relevance to the Aerosol (A) DO:

Climate Variability and Change
• Reduce aerosol radiative forcing uncertainty by a factor of two
• Quantify the contribution of the upper troposphere and stratosphere to climate feedbacks and change
• Improve estimates of the emissions of natural and anthropogenic aerosols and their precursors via observational constraints
• Quantify the effects of aerosols on cloud formation, height, and properties
• Reduce uncertainties in low and high cloud feedback by a factor of two
Weather and Air Quality
• Determine the effects of key boundary layer processes on weather, hydrological, and air quality forecasts
• Improve the observed and modeled representations of natural, low-frequency modes of weather/climate variability
• Improve our understanding of the processes that determine air pollution distributions and reduce uncertainties in PM concentrations

DS Science Objectives of relevance to the Clouds, Convection, and Precipitation (CCP) DO:

Climate Variability and Change
• Reduce uncertainties in low and high cloud feedback by a factor of two
• Quantify the contribution of the upper troposphere and stratosphere to climate feedbacks and change
Weather and Air-Quality
• Determine the effects of key boundary layer processes on weather, hydrological, and air quality forecasts
• Improve the observed and modeled representations of natural, low-frequency modes of weather/climate variability
• Determine how spatial variability in surface characteristics modifies regional cycles of energy, water, and momentum (stress)
• Measure the vertical motion within deep convection to improve model representation of extreme precipitation and determine convective transport and redistribution of mass, moisture, momentum, and chemical species

• Develop and evaluate an integrated Earth System analysis with sufficient observational input to accurately quantify the components of the water and energy cycles and their interactions, and to close the water balance from headwater catchments to continental-scale river basins
• Quantify rates of precipitation and its phase (rain and snow/ice) worldwide at convective and orographic scales suitable to capture flash floods and beyond
• Quantify rates of snow accumulation, snowmelt, ice melt, and sublimation from snow and ice worldwide at scales driven by topographic variability

In addition, a Science and Applications Traceability Matrix (SATM) for combined ACCP science is provided as a separate document with this RFI. The attached SATM provides the science goals, objectives, and geophysical variables that have been derived by the ACCP science team as they have explored a combined measurement system that addresses both A and CCP science questions. When viewed in presentation mode, this Powerpoint file includes links to other pages within the file to provide definitions and explanations.

An update to the SATM will be posted to this site on March 25, 2019 that will include specific numeric values or ranges for the geophysical variables for responders to review and consider the suitability of their candidate instrument(s) for the ACCP architecture study, which is described below.


The DS issued the following Decadal Community Challenge:
Pursue increasingly ambitious objectives and innovative solutions that enhance and accelerate the science/applications value of space-based Earth observations and analysis to the nation and to the world in a way that delivers great value, even when resources are constrained, and ensures that further investment will pay substantial dividends.
The ACCP study commenced in October 2018 to explore the synergy of these two science DOs through a series of mission architecture studies. The goal of the ACCP study is to define science goals and objectives for the A, CCP and combined A+CCP DO observing systems, the desired capabilities associated with these observables, and observing systems approaches to achieve them.

The ACCP study plan is attached as a separate pdf file with this RFI, and describes the organization of the study team and the scope of our 3 year effort to recommend several candidate measurement systems to NASA Headquarters. Please note that the schedule dates shown in the ACCP study plan have shifted.

Led by the NASA GSFC, the ACCP study has significant multi-NASA-Center participation. Additionally, participation by commercial, university, international and non-NASA USA agencies is sought and encouraged to contribute to the success of the ACCP study.

The ACCP team is hosting a Community Workshop April 2 - 4, 2019 at the Hilton Hotel in Pasadena, California to introduce invited participants to the ACCP study framework and content. We invite feedback on the focused science objectives, their relationship to the driving DS science goals, and the measurement approaches required to answer these objectives. Attendance is by invitation-only. Please contact Vickie Moran, ACCP Study Coordinator at to request an invitation. Additional information about the workshop is provided at

At this workshop, we will be seeking input from participants on the draft SATM, specifically with respect to the Geophysical Variables. We have defined the desired minimum and enhanced capabilities for each science objective to incorporate the performance range of candidate instruments that span the architecture trade space mentioned below. The numerical values for the Geophysical Variables are evolving through a peer review within the ACCP science team. Initially, minimum capabilities should be set as low as possible to incorporate spaceflight assets that could be deployed in a constellation as CubeSat and/or on small spacecraft (SmallSats), but they must be defensible as adequate to meet the overarching science objective.


Per the Decadal Community Challenge, we are pursuing innovative operational concepts for spaceflight or sub-orbital instrumentation that provides synergistic science benefit with other space and sub-orbital elements that would comprise the total measurement system.

This RFI is seeking technical and programmatic information on instruments that speak to the science themes in the DS for ACCP. The architecture study will create candidate measurement systems as a combination of spaceflight and sub-orbital instrumentation, and technically evaluate the feasibility of meeting the science objectives with mission-level constraints such as spacecraft and launch vehicle capacity as well as programmatic constraints associated with anticipated schedules and budgets.

The instrument description, capability, and resource footprint would be considered in the architecture study and could be combined with other science assets to explore mission configurations and operational scenarios that speak to the broadest science possible across A and CCP objectives. This would also include distributed measurement systems that incorporate multiple spaceflight and sub-orbital assets.

A unique aspect of the Earth Science DS is the distinction of a measurement system comprised of ACCP space assets, ACCP sub-orbital assets, in addition to utilizing other existing space and sub-orbital assets that are expected to be available in the 2022 timeframe and beyond. The measurement systems explored in the ACCP architecture study will consider operational considerations that would enable synergy across these assets, in order to identify innovative solutions that enable new science, enriched applications, and potential costs savings.
Furthermore, the scope of the architecture study will consider multiple spaceflight configurations of instrument combinations on a single or multiple spacecraft platforms, including SmallSats and CubeSats.

The schedule for the ACCP study plan is intended to enable a Key Decision Point to initiate Phase A for mission formulation (KDP-A) in 2022. The Program of Record (PoR) in the Appendix A of the Earth Science DS summarizes the expected instruments and missions during the 2017-2027 timeframe. The PoR entries for NASA and NOAA were confirmed by those agencies. Entries for non-U.S. agencies reflect plans the DS committee considered to be reliable, but which were not confirmed by those agencies.

The DS defined these Candidate Measurement Approaches (CMA) for the A and CCP DOs, but responses do not need to be limited to these instrument types. Rather, the demonstration of the science return should be relevant to the science objectives in the attached SATM.

Aerosol (A) CMA: Backscatter lidar and multichannel/multi-angle/polarization imaging radiometer flown together on the same platform
CCP CMA: Radar(s), including Doppler radar, with multi-frequency passive microwave and sub-mm radiometer

Instrument candidates will be solicited from a wide array of providers, including NASA Centers and Jet Propulsion Laboratory, industry, and academia through this RFI. NASA Headquarters will also pursue international contributions for instruments that address these science objectives.


Suitable instrument candidates must be Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 by the ACCP system-level Preliminary Design Review (PDR), notionally scheduled to occur 6/2024, for a notional launch date of 11/2026. The website for the Earth Science Technology Office (ESTO) is here: TRL definitions can be found here: TRL definitions apply to the relevant, intended environment (e.g. airborne instrument demonstrated in that environment would be considered TRL 6, but would not be considered TRL 6 if they were intended for a spaceflight environment for ACCP).

If the candidate instrument is not currently at TRL 6 for the intended environment, the response should include the following:
a) An estimate of current TRL, using the TRL definitions provided in the link to the NASA Procedural Requirements (NPR) document 7123.1B Appendix E
b) A technology maturation plan that outlines the approach and timeline to achieve TRL 6
c) Identification of the external funding source(s) supporting the effort to achieve TRL 6 and qualify the hardware for the intended environment
The RFI responses will be tabulated in an instrument library using the parameters shown in the attached Instrument Template. The ACCP team will use that information to consider many different mission architectures to explore a wide trade space of complementary instrument suites to address ACCP science objectives. Possible spaceflight mission scenarios are listed below. The ACCP team will evaluate the science return of the total measurement system against programmatic constraints to ultimately recommend several to NASA Headquarters ESD, which will make the decision on how to proceed for mission implementation. As mentioned previously, the total measurement system consists of the spaceflight assets from ACCP combined with other spaceflight and sub-orbital assets listed in the PoR, as well as any sub-orbital elements that may be deployed in in-situ campaigns for ACCP.

The spaceflight mission scenarios that will be considered in the architecture study include:
• Traditional, single spacecraft implementation
• Multiple small satellites in a constellation or formation
• Hybrid architectures that combine large and small spaceflight assets
We will be exploring different operational cases that trade orbit, altitude, inclination, cadence, etc, among different instrument suites that span the mission scenarios listed. We anticipate that some measurement systems would have an operational scenario that would require modest adaptation of an instrument design, functional operation, or performance parameter. At a minimum, we anticipate that the thermal design would need to be modified as the orbit changes the solar illumination on the instrument. To notionally account for these impacts, we will use our engineering judgement to scale the resource footprint (mass, power, volume, etc), or we may contact the vendor to discuss the scalability of the candidate instrument. Regardless of whether our architecture study indicates that the candidate instrument can be accommodated as described, or if modest adaptations are anticipated, instrument-level environmental testing would be necessary to requalify for the flight or operational environment.


The ACCP final report will recommend several measurement system architectures that demonstrate high science return. NASA Headquarters ESD will make the final selection and competitively select instrument and mission elements for implementation.

The Key Decision Point (KDP) for ACCP is expected to be no earlier than (NET) 4/2022. Solicitation will be posted no earlier than first quarter 2022.

No solicitation exists; therefore, do not request a copy of the solicitation. If a solicitation is released it will be synopsized in FedBizOpps and on the NASA Acquisition Internet Service. It is the potential offeror's responsibility to monitor these sites for the release of any solicitation or synopsis.


The information provided will be maintained on GSFC-maintained secure servers, and accessed only by civil servants, or contractors that have signed Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) that preserve vendor proprietary and competition sensitive data. Furthermore, the final ACCP report that will be submitted to NASA Headquarters, some aspects of which will be made public, will not cite the instrument sources.

It is not NASA's intent to publicly disclose vendor proprietary information obtained during this RFI, including any cost estimates provided. To the full extent that it is protected pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act and other laws and regulations, information identified by a respondent as "Proprietary or Confidential" will be kept confidential.


This RFI is to solicit specific capability information from any experienced source and promote collaboration and competition. The RFI is seeking responses that provide the technical resource footprint, science performance, and vendor capability statements for candidate instruments. The description of the instrument should include any relevant laboratory, sub-orbital, or spaceflight information regarding the hardware configuration as previously demonstrated and the science returned, as well as the instrument calibration and data validation methods.

Interested offerors/vendors having the required specialized capabilities to meet the intended application should submit a capability statement indicating the ability to perform all aspects of the effort described herein. Responders are invited to submit a narrative and to fill out the attached Instrument Template spreadsheet. The narrative should not exceed 15 pages. Science publications and other relevant information can be referenced in the narrative to provide examples of the source's expertise, facilities, and prior work, especially regarding hardware and/or test results from the instrumentation suggested for the ACCP architecture study.

The narrative can be provided in addition to or instead of the attached ACCP Instrument Template spreadsheet. If the template is not submitted, narrative responses should include the technical and programmatic information listed in the template to support the architecture study. The spreadsheet includes a General Information tab and subsequent tabs to enter the functional and scientific performance for different instrument types, including a tab for ‘other' instruments or measurement approaches that haven't been listed in the RFI. There are separate tabs for Spacecraft Accommodations, and Orbit and Attitude, which could be used to capture the required accommodations from an aircraft or other platforms if the submission is for a sub-orbital instrument. These two tabs in particular address the operational configuration of the candidate instrument that must be provided to be included in the architecture study. Please fill out one spreadsheet for each candidate instrument submitted. The template should be used to capture sub-orbital instruments as well, and can be modified as necessary.

Responses must also include the following: name and address of firm, size of business; average annual revenue for past 3 years and number of employees; ownership; whether they are large, small, small disadvantaged, 8(a), Woman-owned, Veteran Owned, Service Disabled Veteran Owned, Historically Underutilized Business Zone and Historically Black Colleges and Universities)/Minority Institutions; number of years in business; affiliate information: parent company, joint venture partners, potential teaming partners, prime contractor (if potential sub) or subcontractors (if potential prime); list of customers covering the past five years (highlight relevant work performed, contract numbers, contract type, dollar value of each procurement; and point of contact - address and phone number).

This synopsis is for information and planning purposes and is not to be construed as a commitment by the Government nor will the Government pay for information solicited. Respondents will not be notified of the results of the evaluation.

Interested offerors shall address the requirements of this RFI in written format as described in the previous paragraphs by electronic mail to: Vickie Moran at and Lisa Bednarik at by Friday, April 19, 2019. The subject line of the submission should be "RFI for ACCP Instruments for Architecture Studies," and attachments should be in Microsoft WORD, POWERPOINT, EXCEL or PDF format. Please include a point-of-contact and provide his/her name, address, telephone/fax numbers, and email address within the text of the email.

Technical questions should be directed to:
Vickie Moran
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
8800 Greenbelt Road
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Procurement related questions should be directed to:
Lisa A. Bednarik
Contracting Officer
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
8800 Greenbelt Road
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Attachment A - Science and Applications Traceability Matrix
Attachment B - ACCP Study Plan
Attachment C - Instrument Template

Lisa Bednarik, Contracting Officer, Phone 3012869061, Email

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