Polarimetric Scanning Radiometer - Original Scanhead

The PSR/A scanhead provides either full-Stokes vector or tri-polarimetric sensitivity at the radiometric bands of 10.7, 18.7, and 37 GHz, and thus is well suited for the NPOESS Integrated Program Office’s internal government (IG) studies of ocean surface wind vector measurements. PSR data has been used to demonstrate the first-ever retrieval of ocean surface wind fields using conically-scanned polarimetric radiometer data. The results have suggested that the NPOESS specification for wind vector accuracy will be achievable with a polarimetric two-look system.

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Polarimetric Scanning Radiometer

The Polarimetric Scanning Radiometer (PSR) is a versatile airborne microwave imaging radiometer developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology and the NOAA Environmental Technology Laboratory (now NOAA/ESRL PSD) for the purpose of obtaining polarimetric microwave emission imagery of the Earth's oceans, land, ice, clouds, and precipitation. The PSR is the first airborne scanned polarimetric imaging radiometer suitable for post-launch satellite calibration and validation of a variety of future spaceborne passive microwave sensors. The capabilities of the PSR for airborne simulation are continuously being expanded through the development of new mission-specific scanheads to provide airborne post-launch simulation of a variety of existing and future U.S. sensors, including CMIS, ATMS, AMSU, SSMIS, WindSat, TMI, RAMEX, and GEM.

The basic concept of the PSR is a set of polarimetrc radiometers housed within a gimbal-mounted scanhead drum. The scanhead drum is rotatable by the gimbal positioner so that the radiometers (Figure 2.) can view any angle within ~70° elevation of nadir at any azimuthal angle (a total of 1.32 pi sr solid angle), as well as external hot and ambient calibration targets. The configuration thus supports conical, cross-track, along-track, fixed-angle stare, and spotlight scan modes. The PSR was designed to provide several specific and unique observational capabilities from various aircraft platforms. The original design was based upon several observational objectives:

1. To provide fully polarimetric (four Stokes' parameters: Tv, Th, TU, and TV) imagery of upwelling thermal emissions at several of the most important microwave sensing frequencies (10.7, 18.7, 37.0, and 89.0 GHz), thus providing measurements from X to W band;
2. To provide the above measurements with absolute accuracy for all four Stokes' parameters of better than 1 K for Tv and Th, and 0.1 K for TU and TV;
3. To provide radiometric imaging with both fore and aft look capability (rather than single swath observations);
4. To provide conical, cross-track, along-track, and spotlight mode scanning capabilities; and
5. To provide imaging resolutions appropriate for high resolution studies of precipitating and non-precipitating clouds, mesoscale ocean surface features, and satellite calibration/validation at Nyquist spatial sampling.

The original system has been extended - as discussed below - to greatly exceed the original design objectives by providing additional radiometric channels and expanded platform capabilities.

The PSR scanhead was designed for in-flight operation without the need for a radome (i.e., in direct contact with the aircraft slipstream), thus allowing precise calibration and imaging with no superimposed radome emission signatures. Moreover, the conical scan mode allows the entire modified Stokes' vector to be observed without polarization mixing.

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Polarization Modulated Gas Filter Correlation Radiometer

A non-mechanical optical switch is provided for alternately switching a monochromatic or quasi-monochromatic light beam along two optical paths. A polarizer polarizes light into a single, e.g., vertical component which is then rapidly modulated into vertical and horizontal components by a polarization modulator. A polarization beam splitter then reflects one of these components along one path and transmits the other along the second path. In the specific application of gas filter correlation radiometry, one path is directed through a vacuum cell and one path is directed through a gas correlation cell containing a desired gas. Reflecting mirrors cause these two paths to intersect at a second polarization beam splitter which reflects one component and transmits the other to recombine them into a polarization modulated beam which can be detected by an appropriate single sensor.

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Passive Active L- and S-band Sensor

PALS is a combined polarimetric radiometer and NASA licensed radar sharing a rotating planar array antenna. The PALS instrument includes a combined L-band radiometer and scatterometer , operating at 1.413 GHz and 1.26 GHz respectively. It was designed and built to investigate the benefits of combining passive and active microwave sensors for Ocean salinity and Soil moisture remote sensing. It is the prototype for the Aquarius and SMAP missions and its flexible design is compatible with many aircraft.

The PALS radar and radiometer time share a dual pole, dual frequency planner array antenna. The antenna configuration can be fixed or rotating. It provides scalable resolution, between 3,000 and 20,000 feet AGL. It is an Aquarius and SMAP test bed.

PALS has flown on the NCAR C-130, NASA’s P-3 and Twin Otter International’s, Twin Otter. It is a very mature instrument, and has flown more than 800 hours, in support of NASA campaigns.

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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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Millimeter Imaging Radiometer

The Millimeter-wave Imaging Radiometer (MIR) is a cross-track-scanning radiometer that measures radiation at nine frequencies. In every scanning cycle of about 3 seconds in duration, it views two external calibration targets. MIR responds predominantly to atmospheric parameters like water vapor, clouds, and precipitation.

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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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Conically-Scanning Two-look Airborne Radiometer

C-STAR measures precipitation, surface water and near ocean surface wind speed and direction.

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Electronically Scanning Thinned-Array Radiometer

During the 1980s, in the framework of its Earth observation program, NASA organized several workshops at which scientists demonstrated the roles of soil moisture and ocean salinity in the global environmental system. Passive microwave radiometry could be used to measure these two geophysical parameters, but the most suitable frequency bands were those below 5 GHz and it was difficult to achieve the required spatial resolution with an antenna of reasonable size. NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center, in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the US Department of Agriculture, proposed the use of aperture synthesis as a solution to this problem for the first time and started to build an aircraft-borne prototype to test the concept. This NASA ESTAR (Electronically Scanned Thinned Array Radiometer) sensor was designed to be an L-band hybrid real- and synthetic-aperture radiometer and the instrument's validity was demonstrated in several USDA campaigns.

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Composition and Photo-Dissociative Flux Measurement

The instrument used for the CPFM is a spectroradiometer based on a concave, holographic diffraction grating and a 1024-element diode array detector. It measures the intensities of the two linear polarization components of radiation propagating upward at the aircraft location from a range of elevation angles near the horizon. In addition, a measurement of the intensity of the direct solar beam is made by viewing a horizontal diffusing surface mounted under a quartz dome on board the aircraft. These measurements are used to verify atmospheric light-scattering calculations, which are essential for the accurate modeling of the chemistry of the stratosphere where POLARIS makes its measurements.

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