Building a better planet with GeoCarb and other Lockheed Martin innovations

Earth Day celebrations came to a close over the weekend, but at Lockheed Martin, we remain focused on protecting our planet year-round. As addressing the climate crisis becomes increasingly urgent — and a national priority under the new administration — we've set our sights on new products and technologies to help mitigate and monitor climate change, provide early warning to protect human lives and increase safety for our troops and allies.

We're working every day to reduce carbon emissions, waste, energy and water use. Our Go Green Commitment to environmental sustainability is matched by the products and technologies we invent and build.

Our weather and climate legacy dates back 60 years to TIROS-1, the world’s first weather satellite. Since then, we’ve built more than 120 weather and Earth observation satellites — including the recently launched GOES-16 (covering the East Coast) and GOES-17 (covering the West Coast) — with the next in the series (GOES-T) set to launch this December. Continuous weather observations over the last 60+ years is the world’s longest space-based climate record.

We're also working on a better way to monitor our planet's health using a first-of-its-kind Earth observation mission called the Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory (GeoCarb). GeoCarb — which is a collaboration between NASA, Lockheed Martin and the University of Oklahoma — will study in unprecedented detail how the Earth breathes. It will observe how the carbon cycle is changing and monitor plant health in the Americas with millions of daily observations.

GeoCarb is an instrument optimized to deduce concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and carbon monoxide, as well as solar-induced fluorescence (SIF), a measure of plant health, from geostationary orbit. This orbital placement enables it to make more observations of the same area over a period of time, so scientists can better spot emerging carbon patterns.

But how exactly will all these observations help us figure out how to preserve our planet? They will:

  • Track carbon sources and sinks including carbon monoxide from wildfires so scientists can identify additional avenues for observations and research
  • Gauge health of important ecosystems by measuring solar-induced fluorescence
  • Identify methane sources near Earth’s surface, providing useful insights to the energy industry
  • Promote proactive global food supply chain planning among farmers and agriculturalists
  • Enable informed decisions by global leaders addressing climate change and
  • Provide daily coverage to assess magnitude and variance of forest carbon sinks, a key factor in understanding humanity's contribution to Earth's carbon balance.

While the initial GeoCarb payload will be hosted on a forthcoming future spacecraft, interested parties or countries have the option to learn more about this technology for their own potential climate-monitoring needs. Check out our GeoCarb fact sheet for more information.

GeoCarb is just one example of how Lockheed Martin is committed to building a better life here on Earth. Read on for more innovative Lockheed Martin products and technologies committed to doing just that:

GOES-R

The GOES-R weather satellite series provides high-definition views of weather systems over most of the Western Hemisphere. Indicative of this leap forward in weather monitoring technology, GOES-16 transmitted more data in its first six months of operation than all previous GOES weather satellites combined. GOES-T, our next weather satellite in the GOES-R series, is slated to launch December 2021.

Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM)

The  Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) is an instrument flying on both GOES satellites. GLM is the first operational lightning mapper flown in geostationary orbit. It tracks lightning  across the U.S. in real-time, taking hundreds of images every second and mapping both cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning. By collecting data on the frequency, location and extent of lightning discharges, the GLM allows meteorologists to quickly identify intensifying storms and tornadoes, improving warning lead-times and saving lives.
The SUVI telescope on GOES-R satellites measures the sun in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength range and provides full-disk solar images. SUVI delivers high-resolution solar imagery, documenting solar activity like solar flares which is essential to understanding active areas on the sun and predicting solar events that may disrupt power utilities, communication or navigation systems here on Earth. Additional solar monitoring and data come through NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory where artificial intelligence is being used through learning algorithms. 

GridStar® Flow 

As wind and solar energy become cost-competitive across the globe, we envision a world where we can realize the full potential of clean energy by capturing and storing that power for minutes, hours or even days. To make this vision a reality, Lockheed Martin Energy is developing an innovative redox flow battery. GridStar® Flow is designed for long-duration, large-capacity energy storage applications. The patented technology is based on the principles of coordination chemistry, offering a new electrochemistry consisting of engineered electrolytes made from Earth-abundant materials. These properties enable GridStar Flow to deliver durability, flexibility and safety with a competitive total cost of ownership.

MARK IV-B

The AN/UMQ-13 Meteorological Data Station (" MARK IV-B”) is a series of ground stations that processes global polar and geostationary meteorological satellite high-resolution imagery and sensor data. This invaluable imagery and data is instantly available anywhere in the world for warfighter missions.
A team member prepares to deploy an AXCTD instrument from a C-130 aircraft during the annual OMG survey of the oceans around Greenland. Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG)

Global sea level rise will be one of the major environmental challenges we face in the current century. The NASA Airborne mission Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) will pave the way for improved estimates of sea level rise by addressing the extent of Greenland’s ice melt caused by the oceans. We supplied the Airborne eXpendable Conductivity Temperature and Depth (AXCTD) probes, which measure ocean temperature and salinity on the shelf. 

FIREHAWK Helicopter

Our Sikorsky FIREHAWK® helicopter can carry 12 firefighters and their equipment to a wildland fire, then drop up to 1,000 gallons of water with precision and force, allowing ground crews to gain control over the blaze. By helping suppress wildfires when first detected, Firehawk helicopters protect lives and property, preserve air quality and stop environmental degradation. Successful initial attack also saves millions of dollars in clean-up costs and enables local economies — think tourism and recreation — to flourish. 

Flying Firetrucks

The C-130 has long-operated as an aerial tanker, dispersing fire retardant in austere locations to prevent flames from destroying more land and more lives. To do this, pilots navigate challenging terrain, remain close to the flames, fly in low-visibility conditions with upwards of 30,000 pounds of heavy payloads of equipment/retardant, and bring crews home safely.

Read more about the LM-100J FireHerc here.

Hurricane Hunters

The WC-130J is a C-130J production variant operated solely by the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s “Hurricane Hunters.” The hurricane reconnaissance area includes the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and eastern and central Pacific Ocean areas. Like the C-130 fire tankers, a palletized system transforms these C-130Js with instrumentation that collects weather data, and is capable of staying aloft almost 18 hours at an optimum cruise speed of more than 300 mph.

Find out more about the U.S. Air Force’s Hurricane Hunters here.