SDI Operator's Manual
Revised July 2000

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SDI Data Processing Overview

Few meteorological satellites broadcast data directly to the user. Because of the satellite's complexity, the raw sensor data is usually downlinked to a ground station, which preprocesses and formats it into blocks. The data blocks are uplinked to a geostationary satellite (may be the originating satellite), which broadcasts the data to users.

Most meteorological satellites simultaneously scan a portion (sector) or all of the earth with several sensors having different spectral characteristics. Only the data from sensors having the same spectral characteristics can be used to generate a specific image. For example, a GVAR satellite's imager, provides data for generating several IR images and one visible image during a scan of a sector. To generate a visible image, only the visible spectrum data is used; to generate an IR image, only the data from a specific IR sensor is used.

The satellite sends all data to the ground station in near real time. For most satellite types, the ground station delays data only long enough to form complete blocks. When a block is formed, it is queued for retransmission. Therefore, serial data, as received from a meteorological satellite, consists of interleaved sensor data blocks, as well as nondisplayable data such as documentation and calibration blocks. To generate an image, the data from a specific sensor or group of sensors must be sorted out of the incoming data stream and presented to a display device.

SDI's approach to the sorting process when handling high data rates is to store all received data in fixed length files (SDF files) in the order it is received. Then, create a data location file for each possible image that points to the data blocks in the SDFs that are required to build the image. If a specific image is requested, the entries in its location file are used by transfer software to locate the beginning and length of each data block in the image. The transfer software simply reads the blocks in the sequential order listed in the data location files. In this way, SDF data is never actually sorted or moved; it is only inventoried and read. This approach is used by the SDI for the higher data rate satellites because there is not enough time between incoming data transfers to decommutate the data into areas.

SDI's approach to the sorting process when handling low data rates is to initially store all received data in a buffer. Then, locate the beginning of a data block and read its data type from the block's header information. Finally, the data block is transferred to the appropriate image file. A separate image file is created for each data sensor type received.

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