National Airborne Sounder Testbed - Interferometer

The National Airborne Sounder Testbed-Interferometer (NAST-I) is a high spectral resolution (0.25 cm-1) and high spatial resolution (0.13 km linear resolution per km of aircraft flight altitude, at nadir) scanning (2.3 km ground cross-track swath width per km of aircraft flight altitude) passive infrared (IR) Michelson interferometer sounding system that was developed to be flown on high-altitude aircraft to provide experimental observations needed to finalize the specifications and to test proposed designs and data processing algorithms for the Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) flying on the Suomi NPP (SNPP) and Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) platforms. Because the NAST-I infrared spectral radiance and temperature, humidity, trace species, cloud and surface property soundings have unprecedented spectral and high spatial resolution, respectively, the data can be used to support a variety of satellite sensor calibration / validation and atmospheric research programs. The NAST-I covers a spectral range from ~ 600-2900 cm-1 (3.5-16 microns) with 0.25 cm-1 spectral resolution, yielding more than 9000 spectral channels of radiance emission/absorption information. The NAST-I instrument has flown numerous science missions on the ER-2, WB-57, and Proteus aircraft, and the team has evaluated efforts needed to become operational on the DC-8. Most recently, NAST-I was part of the ER-2 science payload for the FIREX-AQ field campaign conducted during August, 2019 (https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/csl/projects/firex-aq/). Additional information can be obtained from Anna Noe (anna.m.noe@nasa.gov, 757-864-6466), Dr. Daniel Zhou (daniel.k.zhou@nasa.gov, 757-864-5663), or Dr. Allen Larar (Allen.M.Larar@nasa.gov, 757-864-5328).

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Anna Noe (Mgr)

Microwave Temperature Profiler

The Microwave Temperature Profiler (MTP) is a passive microwave radiometer, which measures the natural thermal emission from oxygen molecules in the earth’s atmosphere for a selection of elevation angles between zenith and nadir. The current observing frequencies are 55.51, 56.65 and 58.80 GHz. The measured "brightness temperatures" versus elevation angle are converted to air temperature versus altitude using a quasi-Bayesian statistical retrieval procedure. The MTP has no ITAR restrictions, has export compliance classification number EAR99/NLR. An MTP generally consists of two assemblies: a sensor unit (SU), which receives and detects the signal, and a data unit (DU), which controls the SU and records the data. In addition, on some platforms there may be a third element, a real-time analysis computer (RAC), which analyzes the data to produce temperature profiles and other data products in real time. The SU is connected to the DU with power, control, and data cables. In addition the DU has interfaces to the aircraft navigation data bus and the RAC, if one is present. Navigation data is needed so that information such as altitude, pitch and roll are available. Aircraft altitude is needed to perform retrievals (which are altitude dependent), while pitch and roll are needed for controlling the position of a stepper motor which must drive a scanning mirror to predetermined elevation angles. Generally, the feed horn is nearly normal to the flight direction and the scanning mirror is oriented at 45-degrees with respect to receiving feed horn to allow viewing from near nadir to near zenith. At each viewing position a local oscillator (LO) is sequenced through two or more frequencies. Since a double sideband receiver is used, the LO is generally located near the "valley" between two spectral lines, so that the upper and lower sidebands are located near the spectral line peaks to ensure the maximum absorption. This is especially important at high altitudes where "transparency" corrections become important if the lines are too "thin." Because each frequency has a different effective viewing distance, the MTP is able to "see" to different distances by changing frequency. In addition, because the viewing direction is also varied and because the atmospheric opacity is temperature and pressure dependent, different effective viewing distances are also achieved through scanning in elevation . If the scanning is done so that the applicable altitudes (that is, the effective viewing distance times the sine of the elevation angle) at different frequencies and elevation angles are the same, then inter-frequency calibration can also be done, which improves the quality of the retrieved profiles. For a two-frequency radiometer with 10 elevation angles, each 15-second observing cycle produces a set of 20 brightness temperatures, which are converted by a linear retrieval algorithm to a profile of air temperature versus altitude, T(z). Finally, radiometric calibration is performed using the outside air temperature (OAT) and a heated reference target to determine the instrument gain. However, complete calibration of the system to include "window corrections" and other effects, requires tedious analysis and comparison with radiosondes near the aircraft flight path. This is probably the most important single factor contributing to reliable calibration. For stable MTPs, like that on the DC8, such calibrations appear to be reliable for many years. Such analysis is always performed before MTP data are placed on mission archive computers.

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DC-8 - AFRC, ER-2 - AFRC, Global Hawk - AFRC, L-188C, M-55, Gulfstream V - NSF, WB-57 - JSC
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Scanning High-Resolution Interferometer Sounder

The Scanning High-resolution Interferometer Sounder (S-HIS) is a scanning interferometer which measures emitted thermal radiation at high spectral resolution between 3.3 and 18 microns The measured emitted radiance is used to obtain temperature and water vapor profiles of the Earth's atmosphere in clear-sky conditions. S-HIS produces sounding data with 2 kilometer resolution (at nadir) across a 40 kilometer ground swath from a nominal altitude of 20 kilometers onboard a NASA ER-2 or Global Hawk.

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NOAA Pressure and Temperature

In order to make an accurate temperature and pressure measurement, a Weston digital pressure temperature transducer is used to measure both static and ram pressure. These transducers are accurate to within +/- 0.01 % of full-scale or +/- 0.1 mbar. When the aircraft was manufactured, two ports on either side of the aircraft were placed at positions where the air moving across the skin is perpendicular to the port. These ports are connected together and to the static pressure transducer. The ram pressure measurement consists of a forward-looking tube with a wideangle opening connected to the ram pressure transducer. The ram pressure is calculated by subtracting the static pressure from this measurement.

The temperature probes consist of a slow and fast responding type 102 probe from Goodyear Aerospace Corporation. The platinum wire temperature sensor in the type 102 probe is calibrated to less than +/- 0.1 degree.

Data is gathered once every second from these probes using a custom data system. The Weston pressure transducers are held at a constant temperature of 50 degrees Celsius in order to reduce temperature effects on the measurement and in order to prevent condensation within the sensor. The analog to digital converters are also held at a relatively constant temperature, and a thousand samples from each channel is averaged each second. This over sampling results in a precision of 0.03 degrees in temperature and 0.03 mbars in pressure. We estimate the total accuracy of these measurements in flight to be +/- 0.5 degrees for temperature and +/- 0.5 mb for pressure.

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NPOESS Airborne Sounder Testbed - Microwave

The NAST-M currently consists of two radiometers covering the 50-57 GHz band and a set of spectral emission measurements within 4 GHz of the 118.75 GHz oxygen line with eight single sideband and 9 double sideband channels, respectively. To be added prior to CRYSTAL-FACE are five double side band channels within 4 GHz of the 183 GHz water vapor line and a single band channel at 425 GHz. For clear air, the temperature and water vapor information provided by the 50-57 GHz, 118 GHz, and 183 GHz channels is largely redundant; but, for cloudy sky conditions the three bands provide information on the effects of precipitating clouds on the temperature and water vapor profile retrievals and enables sounding through the non-precipitating portion of the cloud, a feature particularly important for CRYSTAL-FACE.

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J-31 Navigation Data System and Met Sensors

Provides information on aircraft position, orientation and meteorological variables.

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J-31
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Raman Airborne Spectroscopic Lidar

The Raman Airborne Spectroscopic Lidar (RASL) consists of a 15W ultraviolet laser, a 24-inch (61-centimeter) diameter Dahl-Kirkham telescope, a custom receiver package, and a structure to mount these components inside an aircraft. Both the DC-8 at NASA Dryden and the P-3 at NASA/Wallops are aircrafts that could carry RASL. The system is unique because it requires the largest window ever put into either of these aircraft. A fused-silica window, diameter of 27 inches (68.6 centimeters) and 2.375 inches (6 centimeters) thick is needed to withstand the pressure and temperature differentials at a 50,000-foot (15.2-kilometer) altitude.

In June through August of 2007, RASL flew numerous times on board a King Air B-200 aircraft out of Bridgewater, VA, in support of the 2007 Water Vapor Validation Experiments (WAVES) campaign. The WAVES campaign was a series of field experiments to validate satellite measurements. RASL data, along with data from ground-based and balloon-borne instruments, were used to assess the CALIPSO and TES instruments and for studies of mesoscale water vapor variability. During the test flights, RASL produced the first-ever simultaneous measurements of tropospheric water vapor mixing ratio and aerosol extinction from an airborne platform.

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Multispectral Atmospheric Mapping Sensor

The MAMS is a modified Daedalus Scanner flown aboard the ER-2 aircraft. It is designed to study weather related phenomena including storm system structure, cloud-top temperatures, and upper atmospheric water vapor. The scanner retains the eight silicon-detector channels in the visible/near-infrared region found on the Daedalus Thematic Mapper Simulator, with the addition of four channels in the infrared relating to specific atmospheric features.

The scanner views a 37 kilometer wide scene of the Earth from the ER2 altitude of about 20 kilometers. Each MAMS footprint (individual field of view) has a horizontal resolution of 100 meters at nadir. Since the ER2 travels at about 208 meters per second, a swath of MAMS data 37 by 740 kilometers is collected every hour. The nominal duration of an ER2 flight is 6 hours (maximum of about 7 hours).

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Meteorological Measurement System

The Meteorological Measurement System (MMS) is a state-of-the-art instrument for measuring accurate, high resolution in situ airborne state parameters (pressure, temperature, turbulence index, and the 3-dimensional wind vector). These key measurements enable our understanding of atmospheric dynamics, chemistry and microphysical processes. The MMS is used to investigate atmospheric mesoscale (gravity and mountain lee waves) and microscale (turbulence) phenomena. An accurate characterization of the turbulence phenomenon is important for the understanding of dynamic processes in the atmosphere, such as the behavior of buoyant plumes within cirrus clouds, diffusions of chemical species within wake vortices generated by jet aircraft, and microphysical processes in breaking gravity waves. Accurate temperature and pressure data are needed to evaluate chemical reaction rates as well as to determine accurate mixing ratios. Accurate wind field data establish a detailed relationship with the various constituents and the measured wind also verifies numerical models used to evaluate air mass origin. Since the MMS provides quality information on atmospheric state variables, MMS data have been extensively used by many investigators to process and interpret the in situ experiments aboard the same aircraft.

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Hyperspectral Thermal Emissions Spectrometer

The Hyperspectral Thermal Emissions Spectrometer (HyTES) instrument has 512 pixels across track with pixel sizes in the range of 5 to 50 m depending on aircraft flying height and 256 spectral channels between 7.5 and 12 µm. The HyTES design is built upon a Quantum Well Infrared Photodetector (QWIP) focal plane array (FPA) , a cryo-cooled Dyson Spectrometer and a high-efficiency, concave blazed grating, produced using E-beam lithography.

HyTES will be useful for a number of applications, including high-resolution surface temperature and emissivity measurements and volcano observations. HyTES measurements will also be used to help determine scientifically optimal band locations for the thermal infrared (TIR) instrument for the Decadal HyspIRI mission.

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