Marshall Airborne Polarimetric Imaging Radiometer

The Marshall Airborne Polarimetric Imaging Radiometer (MAPIR) is a dual beam, dual angle polarimetric, scanning L band passive microwave radiometer system developed by the Observing Microwave Emissions for Geophysical Applications (OMEGA) team at MSFC. MAPIR observes naturally-emitted radiation from the ground primarily for remote sensing of land surface brightness temperature from which we can retrieve soil moisture and possibly surface or water temperature and ocean salinity.

MAPIR consists of an electronically steered phased array antenna comprised of 81 receiving patch elements and associated electronics to provide the required beam steering capability. The antenna produces two independent beams that can be individually scanned to any user-defined scan angle. The antenna is connected to four microwave radiometers and a microwave spectrum analyzer. Two radiometers operate over a narrow band (science band) between 1400-1427 MHz. Two other radiometers operate over a wider bandwidth (1350-1450 MHz) and are used for Radio Frequency interference (RFI) surveillance. The outputs of the four radiometers are routed to the digital back end module that digitizes and filters the signal into 16 well isolated spectral sub-bands and computes the first four statistical moments in each sub-band from which the radio brightness temperature and kurtosis (a statistical measure, indicative of RFI) can be computed in post-processing.

MAPIR can operate in two user-selectable modes: Single-Beam Dual (simultaneous) Polarization and Dual (simultaneous) Beam Single Polarization. In the first mode, both beams of the antenna are directed to scan to the same angle, but the radiometers are observing orthogonal polarizations (horizontal and vertical) at the same time. In the second mode, the two antenna beams can be directed to different azimuth and/or angles and the radiometers observe the same polarization at the same time. The instrument is capable of electronic beam steering to one-degree of resolution from 0-40 degrees in elevation and 0-360 degrees azimuth in both beams. MAPIR precision is 0.01K and brightness temperature accuracy is 5 degrees K accuracy over a 10 ms integration interval, but is capable of achieving 0.5K sensitivity over a 1 second integration interval. Near-term improvements to MAPIR will bring that accuracy to 3 K over a 10 ms integration period.

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Conical Scanning Submillimeter-wave Imaging Radiometer

The Compact Scanning Submillimeter-wave Imaging Radiometer (CoSSIR) is an airborne, 12-channel, (183 - 874 GHz) total power imaging radiometer that was mainly developed for the measurements of ice clouds. But it can be used for estimation of water vapor profiles and snowfall rates. When first completed and flown in the CRYSTAL-FACE field campaign during July 2002, the system had 15 channels at different frequencies from those listed below. All the receivers and radiometer electronics are housed in a small cylindrical scan head (21.5 cm in diameter and 28 cm in length) that is rotated by a two-axis gimbaled mechanism capable of generating a wide variety of scan profiles. Two calibration targets, one maintained at ambient (cold) temperature and another heated to a hot temperature of about 328 K, are closely coupled to the scan head and rotate with it about the azimuth axis. Radiometric signals from each channel are sampled at 0.01 sec intervals. These signals and housekeeping data are fed to the main computer in an external electronics box.

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Conical Scanning Millimeter-wave Imaging Radiometer

CoSMIR is an airborne, 9-channel total power radiometer that was originally developed for the calibration/validation of the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager/ Sounder (SSMIS), a new-generation conical scanning radiometer for the DMSP (Defense Meteorological Satellite Project) F-series satellites. When first completed in 2003, the system has four receivers near 50, 91, 150 and 183 GHz, that measure horizontally polarized radiation at the frequencies of 50.3, 52.8, 53.6, 150, 183.3±1, 183.3±3, and 183.3±6.6 GHz, and dual polarized radiation at 91.665 GHz from on board the high-flying NASA ER-2 aircraft. All receivers and radiometer electronics are housed in a small cylindrical scan head (21.5 cm in diameter and 28 cm in length) that is rotated by a two-axis gimbaled mechanism capable of generating a wide variety of scan profiles. Two calibration targets, one maintained at ambient (cold) temperature and another heated to a hot temperature of about 328 K, are closely coupled to the scan head and rotate with it about the azimuth axis. Radiometric signals from each channel are sampled at 0.01 sec intervals. These signals and housekeeping data are fed to the main computer in an external electronics box.

CoSMIR has been flown only for calibration/validation of the SSMIS during years 2004-2005 off the coastal areas of California. Currently, it is being modified to play the role as an airborne high-frequency simulator for the GMI, which requires changes in both frequency and polarization for some channels. After modification, the 9 channels will be at the frequencies of 50.3, 52.6, 89 (H & V), 165.5 (H & V), 183.3±1, 183.3±3, and 183.3±7 GHz. All channels besides 89 and 165.5 GHz will be horizontally polarized. The modified CoSMIR will fly in a GPM–related field campaign in Oklahoma during April-May 2011.

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Airborne Multichannel Microwave Radiometer

The Airborne Multichannel Microwave Radiometer (AMMR) measures thermal microwave emission (in degrees Kelvin of brightness temperature) from surface and atmosphere. The up-looking radiometer at 21 and 37 GHz is a component of AMMR that was developed in the 1970's for precipitation measurements from an aircraft. The entire AMMR assembly covers a frequency range of 10-92 GHz. The 21/37 GHz unit has been flown in many types of aircraft during the past three decades in various field campaigns. It was refurbished during the year 2000 and is ready for flight again.

The fixed-beam Dicke radiometer has a beam width of about 6 degrees and is currently programmed with radiometric output every second. The temperature sensitivity is < 0.5 K, and the calibration accuracy is about ±4 K. The calibration is performed on the ground by viewing targets of known brightness (e.g., sky and absorber with known brightness temperature). The unit can be installed in one of the windows of the NASA P-3 aircraft so that it views at an angle of about 15º from zenith. Thus, it is necessary to spiral the aircraft gradually down to region below the freezing level in order to make measurements effectively. Ideally, the aircraft descends at the rate of about 1 km per 5 minutes. The system requires a bottle of N2 gas to keep the wave guides dry during the in-flight operation.

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Convair 580 NRC, DC-8 - AFRC, P-3 Orion - WFF
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Advanced Microwave Precipitation Radiometer

The AMPR is a total power passive microwave radiometer producing calibrated brightness temperatures (TB) at 10.7, 19.35, 37.1, and 85.5 GHz. These frequencies are sensitive to the emission and scattering of precipitation-size ice, liquid water, and water vapor. The AMPR performs a 90º cross-track data scan perpendicular to the direction of aircraft motion. It processes a linear polarization feed with full vertical polarization at -45º and full horizontal polarization at +45º, with the polarization across the scan mixed as a function of sin2, giving an equal V-H mixture at 0º (aircraft nadir). A full calibration is made every fifth scan using hot and cold blackbodies. From a typical ER-2 flight altitude of ~20 km, surface footprint sizes range from 640 m (85.5 GHz) to 2.8 km (10.7 GHz). All four channels share a common measurement grid with collocated footprint centers, resulting in over-sampling of the low frequency channels with respect to 85.5 GHz.

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