Synonyms: 
Precipitation Size

Cloud Droplet Probe

The Cloud Droplet Probe (CDP), manufactured by Droplet Measurement Technologies, measures the concentration and size distribution of cloud droplets in the size range from 2-50 µm. The instrument counts and sizes individual droplets by detecting pulses of light scattered from a laser beam in the near-forward direction, using a sample area of 0.24 mm2 or a sample rate of 48 cm3 at a flight speed of 200 m/s. The probe is mounted in an underwing canister and is designed to operate at up to 200 m/s; the G-V often exceeds this flight speed, but usually not in penetrations of clouds containing cloud droplets. Droplet sizes are accumulated in 30 bins with variable sizes, as specied in the header of the netCDF data files. Measurements are usually provided at a rate of 1 Hz in the standard data files but can be made available at 10 Hz in special high-rate processing. The instrument is similar to, and might be considered a high-speed replacement for, the Forward Scattering Spectrometer Probe. At high droplet concentration (> 500 cm-3), coincidence losses have been observed with this probe, and these are especially serious at G-V flight speeds. The probe is designed for cloud droplets, and its response to ice crystals is not intended to be quantitative; measurements in ice clouds should not be used except as qualitative indications of cloud.

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X-Band Lightweight Rainfall Radiometer

The X-band LRR, which is suitable for aircraft or space-based platforms, enables markedly improved measurement of precipitation drop size and distribution (at 10.7 GHz), as well as rain rate and surface wind speeds, when used in conjunction with other instruments, such as the PR-2. With a receiver less than 1/8th the size and using 50% less power than predecessors, the LRR could lead to a space-borne 25 channel synthetic aperture radiometer that would not be strictly limited by size and power requirements.

The core technology of the LRR – a synthetically thinned aperture radiometer (STAR) – demonstrated the feasibility of a one-dimensional geometric interferometer (no moving parts) for future NASA X-band missions. The lack of a mechanical scanning apparatus found on traditional radiometers makes the LRR payload smaller, lighter, and cheaper to launch while also reducing the complexity and risk of the instrument. The team also conducted an antenna design study that validated the STAR technology in the critical Ku- and Ka-bands.

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Forward Scattering Spectrometer Probe

The FSSP is of that general class of instruments called optical particle counters (OPCs) that detect single particles and size them by measuring the intensity of light that the particle scatters when passing through a light beam. A Helium Neon laser beam is focused to a diameter of 0.2 mm at the center of an inlet that faces into the oncoming airstream. This laser beam is blocked on the opposite side of the inlet with an optical stop, a "dump spot" to prevent the beam from entering the collection optics. Particles that encounter this beam scatter light in all directions and some of that scattered in the forward direction is directed by a right angle prism though a condensing lens and onto a beam splitter. The "dump spot" on the prism and aperture of the condensing lens define a collection angle from about 4º - 12º.

The beam splitter divides the scattered light into two components, each of which impinge on a photodetector. One of these detectors, however, is optically masked to receive only scattered light when the particles pass through the laser beam displaced greater than approximately 1.5 mm either side of the center of focus. Particles that fall in that region are rejected when the signal from the masked detector exceeds that from the unmasked detector. This defines the sample volume needed to calculate particle concentrations.

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Nuclei-Mode Aerosol Size Spectrometer

The nucleation-mode aerosol size spectrometer (NMASS) measures the concentration of particles as a function of diameter from approximately 4 to 60 nm. A sample flow is continuously extracted from the free stream using a decelerating inlet and is transported to the NMASS. Within the instrument, the sample flow is carried to 5 parallel condensation nucleus counters (CNCs) as shown in Fig. 1. Each CNC is tuned to measure the cumulative concentration of particles larger than certain diameter. The minimum detectable diameters for the 5 CNCs are 4.0, 7.5, 15, 30 and 55 nm, respectively. An inversion algorithm is applied to recover a continuous size distribution in the 4 to 60 nm diameter range.

The NMASS has been proven particularly useful in measurements of nucleation-mode size distribution in environments where concentrations are relatively high and fast instrumental response is required. The instrument has made valuable measurements vicinity of cirrus clouds in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (WAM), in the near-field exhaust of flying aircraft (SULFUR 6), in newly created rocket plumes (ACCENT), and in the plumes of coal-fired power plants (SOS ’99). The instrument has flown on 3 different aircraft and operated effectively at altitudes from 50 m to 19 km and ambient temperatures from 35 to -80ºC.

Accuracy. The instrument is calibrated using condensationally generated particles that are singly charged and classified by differential electrical mobility. Absolute counting efficiencies are determined by comparison with an electrometer. Monte carlo simulations of the propagation of uncertainties through the numerical inversion algorithm and comparison with established laboratory techniques are used to establish accuracies for particular size distributions, and may vary for different particle size distributions. A study of uncertainties in aircraft plume measurements demonstrated a combined uncertainty (accuracy and precision) of 38%, 36% and 38% for number, surface and volume, respectively.

Precision. The precision is controlled by particle counting statistics for each channel. If better precision is desired, it is necessary only to accumulate over longer time intervals.

Response Time: Data are recorded with 10 Hz resolution, and the instrument has demonstrated response times of this speed in airborne sampling. However the effective response time depends upon the precision required to detect the change in question. Small changes may require longer times to detect. Plume measurements with high concentrations of nucleation-mode particles may be processed at 10 Hz.

Specifications: Weight is approximately 96 lbs, including an external pump. External dimensions are approximately 15”x16”x32”. Power consumption is 350 W at 28 VDC, including the pump.

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Multiple-Angle Aerosol Spectrometer Probe

The Multiple-Angle Aerosol Spectrometer Probe (MASP) determines the size and concentration of particles from about 0.3 to 20 microns in diameter and the index of refraction for selected sizes. Size is determined by measuring the light intensity scattered by individual particles as they transit a laser beam of 0.780µm wavelength. Light scattered from particles into a cone from 30 to 60 degrees forward and 120 to 150 degrees backwards is reflected by a mangin mirror through a condensing lens to the detectors. A comparison of the signals from the open aperture detector and the masked aperture detector is used to accept only those particles passing through the center of the laser beam. The size of the particle is determined from the total scattered light. The index of refraction of particles can be estimated from the ratio of the forward to back scatter signals. A calibration diode laser is pulsed periodically during flight to ensure proper operation of the electronics. The shrouded inlet minimizes angle of attack effects and maintains isokinetic flow through the sensing volume so that volatilization of particles is eliminated.

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Multi-sample Aerosol Collection System

The Multiple Aerosol Collection System contains an impactor collector which permits the collection of particles on electron microscope grids for later chemical-constituent analysis. The collector consists of a two stages. In the first stage the pressure of the sample is reduced by a factor of two without loosing particles by impaction on walls. The second stage consists of a thin plate impactor which collects efficiently even at small Reynolds numbers. The system collects particles as small as 0.02 micron at WB-57 cruise altitudes. As many as 24 samples can be collected in a flight.

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Cloud Physics Lidar

The Cloud Physics Lidar, or CPL, is a backscatter lidar designed to operate simultaneously at 3 wavelengths: 1064, 532, and 355 nm. The purpose of the CPL is to provide multi-wavelength measurements of cirrus, subvisual cirrus, and aerosols with high temporal and spatial resolution. Figure 1 shows the entire CPL package in flight configuration. The CPL utilizes state-of-the-art technology with a high repetition rate, low pulse energy laser and photon-counting detection. Vertical resolution of the CPL measurements is fixed at 30 m; horizontal resolution can vary but is typically about 200 m. The CPL fundamentally measures range-resolved profiles of volume 180-degree backscatter coefficients. From the fundamental measurement, various data products are derived, including: time-height crosssection images; cloud and aerosol layer boundaries; optical depth for clouds, aerosol layers, and planetary boundary layer (PBL); and extinction profiles. The CPL was designed to fly on the NASA ER-2 aircraft but is adaptable to other platforms. Because the ER-2 typically flies at about 65,000 feet (20 km), onboard instruments are above 94% of the earth’s atmosphere, allowing ER-2 instruments to function as spaceborne instrument simulators. The ER-2 provides a unique platform for atmospheric profiling, particularly for active remote sensing instruments such as lidar, because the spatial coverage attainable by the ER-2 permits studies of aerosol properties across wide regions. Lidar profiling from the ER-2 platform is especially valuable because the cloud height structure, up to the limit of signal attenuation, is unambiguously measured.

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Focused Cavity Aerosol Spectrometer

The FCAS II sizes particles in the approximate diameter range from 0.07 mm to 1 mm. Particles are sampled from the free stream with a near isokinetic sampler and are transported to the instrument. They are then passed through a laser beam and the light scattered by individual particles is measured. Particle size is related to the scattered light. The data reduction for the FCAS II takes into account the water which is evaporated from the particle in sampling and the effects of anisokinetic sampling (Jonsson et al., 1995).

The FCAS II and its predecessors have provided accurate aerosol size distribution measurements throughout the evolution of the volcanic cloud produced by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. (Wilson et al., 1993). Near co-incidences between FCAS II and SAGE II measurements show good agreement between optical extinctions calculated from FCAS size distributions and extinctions measured by SAGE II.

Accuracy: The instrument has been calibrated with monodisperse aerosol carrying a single charge. The FCAS III and the electrometer agree to within 10%. Sampling errors may increase the uncertainty but a variety of comparisons suggests that total uncertainties in aerosol surface are near 30% (Jonsson, et al., 1995).

Precision: The precision equals 1/ÖN where N is the number of particles counted. In many instances the precision on concentration measurements may reach 7% for 0.1 Hz data. If better precision is desired, it is necessary only to accumulate over longer time intervals.

Response Time: Data are processed at 0.1 Hz. However, the response time depends upon the precision required to detect the change in question. Small changes may require longer times to detect. Plume measurements may be processed with 1 s resolution.

Weight: Approximately 50 lbs.

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Cloud Imaging Probe

CIP obtains cloud particle images using a 64-element photodiode array probe to generate 2-Dimensional images of particles from 25-1550 μm, as well as sizing in 1-Dimensional histogram form, and includes housekeeping data.

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2D-S Stereo Probe

The 2D-S Stereo Probe is an optical imaging instrument that obtains stereo cloud particle images and concentrations using linear array shadowing. Two diode laser beams cross at right angles and illuminate two linear 128-photodiode arrays. The lasers are single-mode, temperature-stabilized, fiber-coupled diode lasers operating at 45 mW. The optical paths are arbitrarily labeled the “vertical” and “horizontal” probe channels, but the verticality of each channel actually depends on how the probe is oriented on an aircraft. The imaging optical system is based on a Keplerian telescope design having a (theoretical) primary system magnification of 5X, which results in a theoretical effective size of (42.5 µm + 15 µm)/5 = 11.5 µm. However, actual lenses and arrays have tolerances, so it is preferable to measure the actual effective pixel size by dropping several thousands of glass beads with known diameters through the object plane of the optics system.

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