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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Airborne Earth Science Microwave Imaging Radiometer

The Airborne Earth Science Microwave Imaging Radiometer (AESMIR) is a passive microwave airborne imager covering the 6-100 GHz bands that are essential for observing key Earth System elements such as precipitation, snow, soil moisture, ocean winds, sea ice, sea surface temperature, vegetation, etc.

AESMIR’s channels are configured to enable it to simulate various channels on multiple satellite radiometers, including AMSR-E, SSMI, SSMIS, AMSU, ATMS, TMI, GMI, ATMS, & MIS. Programmable scan modes include conical and cross-track scanning. As such, AESMIR can serve as an inter-satellite calibration tool for constellation missions (e.g., GPM) as well as for long-term multi-satellite data series (Climate Data Records).

The most unique/cutting edge feature of the instrument is its coverage of key water cycle microwave bands in a single mechanical package—making efficient & cost-effective use of limited space on research aircraft, and maximizing the possibilities for co-flying with other instruments to provide synergistic science. State-of-the-art calibration, fully-polarimetric (4-Stokes) observations, and the ability to accommodate large/heavy sensors (up to 300 kg) are other features of AESMIR. AESMIR currently flies on the NASA P-3 aircraft.

With these capabilities, AESMIR is an Earth Science facility for new microwave remote sensing discovery, pre-launch algorithm development, and post-launch Calibration/Validation activities, as well as serving as a technology risk reduction testbed for upcoming spaceborne radiometers. In the latter role, AESMIR is already supporting the GPM, Aquarius, and SMAP missions.

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Airborne Expendable Conductivity Temperature Depth Probe

The AXCTDs measure the ocean salinity, or saltiness (proportional to conductivity), and temperature, which are necessary 1) for computing ocean density, stability and buoyancy, and 2) for identifying different ocean water masses.

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Airborne Raman Ozone, Temperature, and Aerosol Lidar

This is a stratospheric lidar which is configured to fly on the NASA DC-8. It is a zenith viewing instrument, which makes vertical profile measurements of ozone, aerosols and temperature. Stratospheric ozone can be measured at solar zenith angles greater than ~30 degrees, while temperature and aerosols require SZA > 90 degrees. The SNR is maximized under dark coonditions. The measurement of Near-field water vapor measurements is being investigated and could be readily implemented. The instrument utilizes a XeCl excimer laser and a Nd-YAG laser to make DIAL, Raman DIAL, and backscatter measurements. A zenith viewing 16" telescope receives the lidar returns.

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