Harvard Tracer Suite

HTS is composed of two instruments based on absorption of near-infrared laser radiation in high finesse optical cavities. A Picarro G2401-m analyzer based on wavelength-scanned cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS) measures CO2, CH4, and CO concentrations at 2-second intervals. A Los Gatos 913-0014 EP analyzer based on off-axis integrated cavity output spectroscopy (ICOS) measures N2O and CO concentrations at 1-second intervals. Extensive modifications have been applied to these commercial analyzers for flight and include vibration isolation, temperature control, additional flow control and pumping capacity for high-altitude sampling, sample drying, and in-flight calibrations using WMO-traceable compressed gas standards to verify stable and accurate performance throughout the full DC-8 flight envelope.

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Programmable Flask Package Whole Air Sampler

The PFP whole air sampler provides a means of automated or manual filling of glass flasks, twelve per PFP. The sampler is designed to remove excess water vapor from the sampled air and compress it without contamination into ~1-liter volumes. These flasks are analyzed at the NOAA’s Global Monitoring Division laboratory for trace gasses and at  the INSTAR’s Staple Isotope Lab laboratory for isotopes of methane. More than 60 trace gases found in the global atmosphere can be measured at mole fractions that range from parts-per-million (10-6), e.g., carbon dioxide, down to parts-per-quadrillion (10-15), e.g., HFC-365mfc.  The chemical species monitored include N2O, SF6, H2, CS2, OCS, CO2, CH4, CO, CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs, Solvents, Methyl Halides, Hydrocarbons and Perfluorocarbons.

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Advanced Whole Air Sampler

90 samples/flight
–7 x 10 sample + 1 x 8 sample + 2 x 6 sample modules

New canisters/valves/manifold design/control system

Fill times
–14 km 30 – 40 sec
–16 km 40 – 50 sec
–18 km 50 – 60 sec
–20 km 100 – 120 sec (estimated)

Analysis in UM lab: GC/MS; GC/FID; GC/ECD; GC/RGD

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Quantum Cascade Laser System

The Harvard QCLS (DUAL and CO2) instrument package contains 2 separate optical assemblies and calibration systems, and a common data system and power supply. The two systems are mounted in a single standard HIAPER rack, and are described separately below:

The Harvard QCL DUAL instrument simultaneously measures CO, CH4, and N2O concentrations in situ using two thermoelectrically cooled pulsed-quantum cascade lasers (QCL) light sources, a multiple pass absorption cell, and two liquid nitrogen-cooled solid-state detectors. These components are mounted on a temperature-stabilized, vibrationally isolated optical bench with heated cover. The sample air is preconditioned using a Nafion drier (to remove water vapor), and is reduced in pressure to 60 mbar using a Teflon diaphragm pump. The trace gas mixing ratios of air flowing through the multiple pass absorption cell are determined by measuring absorption from their infrared transition lines at 4.59 microns for CO and 7.87 microns for CH4 and N2O using molecular line parameters from the HITRAN data base. In-flight calibrations are performed by replacing the air sample with reference gas every 10 minutes, with a low-span and a high-span gas every 20 minutes. A prototype of this instrument was flown on the NOAA P3 in the summer of 2004.

The Harvard QCL CO2 instrument measures CO2 concentrations in situ using a thermoelectrically cooled pulsed-quantum cascade laser (QCL) light source, gas cells, and liquid nitrogen cooled solid-state detectors. These components are stabilized along the detection axis, vibrationally isolated, and housed in a temperature-controlled pressure vessel. Sample air enters a rear-facing inlet, is preconditioned using a Nafion drier (to remove water vapor), then is reduced in pressure to 60 mbar using a Teflon diaphragm pump. A second water trap, using dry ice, reduces the sample air dewpoint to less than –70C prior to detection. The CO2 mixing ratio of air flowing through the sample gas cell is determined by measuring absorption from a single infrared transition line at 4.32 microns relative to a reference gas of known concentration. In-flight calibrations are performed by replacing the air sample with reference gas every 10 minutes, and with a low-span and a high-span gas every 20 minutes.

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UAS Chromatograph for Atmospheric Trace Species

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Chromatograph for Atmospheric Trace Species (UCATS) was designed and built for autonomous operation on pilotless aircraft. It uses chromatography to separate atmospheric trace gases along a narrow heated column, followed by precise and accurate detection with electron capture detectors. There are two chromatographs on UCATS, one of which measures nitrous oxide and sulfur hexafluoride, the other of which measures methane, hydrogen, and carbon monoxide. In addition, there is a small ozone instrument and a tunable diode laser instrument for water vapor. Gas is pumped into the instruments from an inlet below the GV, measured, and vented. UCATS has flown on the Altair UAS, the GV during HIPPO I and II, and most recently on the NASA/NOAA Global Hawk UAS during the Global Hawk Pacific (GloPac) mission, where a record was set for the longest duration research flight (more than 28 hours). UCATS is relatively lightweight and compact, making it ideal for smaller platforms, but it is easily adaptable to a mid-size platform like the GV for HIPPO. The data are used to measure sources and sinks of trace gases involved in climate and air quality, as well as transport through the atmosphere.

UCATS is three different instruments in one enclosure:

1. 2-channel gas chromatograph (GC)
2. Dual-beam ozone photometer (OZ)
3. Tunable diode laser (TDL) spectrometer for water vapor (WV)

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Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer

The absorption of infrared solar radiation along a slant path to the sun is recorded from 2 to 15 micrometers. Six spectral filters are used to cover the region from 2-15 microns. An interferogram is recorded in about 10 seconds. Interferograms are transformed to produce spectra. Column amounts are retrieved by fitting the observed spectra using the non-linear least squares fitting code SFIT2 that employs an Optimal Estimation retrieval algorithm.

The major chlorine reservoirs (HCl and ClONO2), the important nitrogen-containing gases in the stratosphere (N2O, NO, NO2, and HNO3), stratospheric and tropospheric tracers (HF, CH4, C2H6, H2O, CO2), a major source CFC (CF2Cl2) and ozone may be routinely retrieved.

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Airborne Submillimeter Radiometer

The ASUR (Airborne SUbmillimeter Radiometer) is an airborne radiometer measuring the thermal emission of trace gases in the stratosphere (in an altitude range between 15 and 50 km). The instrument detects the radiation in a frequency range between 604.3 and 662.3 GHz. This corresponds to wavelengths of about 0.45-0.5 mm. In this frequency range a major part of the radiation is absorbed by atmospheric water vapor. As most of the water vapor is found in the troposphere (in the Arctic up to 8 km, in the tropics up to 16 km altitude) the instrument is operated on board of an aircraft flying at an altitude of 10-12 km, such that a major part of the water vapor absorption is avoided. Using appropriate inversion techniques vertical profiles from 15 to over 50 km altitude can be retrieved with a vertical resolution of typically 6 km and 12 km in the lower and upper stratosphere, respectively.

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Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Atmo Water Sensor Package

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Submillimeter Limb Sounder

The Submillimeterwave Limb Sounder (SLS) is a heterodyne radiometer measuring thermal emission spectra near 640 GHz (for detection of ClO, HCl, and O3) and 604 GHz. (for detection of HNO3 and N2O) designed for use on high altitude balloons and aircraft. The instrument consists of five subsystems:

-optics which define the instrument field of view (FOV)
-radiometer front-ends which down converts incoming radiance signals
-intermediate frequency (IF) stage which selects and frequency shifts signal bands
-spectrometers which frequency resolve and detect the incoming power spectrum
-command and data handling which controls the instrument and transmits data to the ground

Limb scanning is accomplished by a flat mirror (~20 cm diameter) connected to a stepper motor (0.2 steps) and 14 bit position encoder. This mirror is also used for gain and zero calibration by viewing an absorber target located below the mirror and upward at 47° elevation angle to view the cold sky. A set of three off-axis parabolic reflectors form the instrument field of view (0.35 full width at half maximum) and couple limb radiance to the mixer input waveguide. These reflectors are oversized (~30 dB edge taper) to minimize side lobes in the FOV. Pointing and beam shape were verified by scanning the instrument FOV across the emission from a 600 GHz transmitter (multiplied output of a Gunn oscillator) located in the receiver optical far-field.

The radiometer front-end is an uncooled second harmonic mixer using a waveguide mounted Schottky diode. The radiometer is operated double side band (DSB), i.e., spectral features occurring symmetrically above and below the effective local oscillator frequency (637.050 GHz) appear together in the IF output spectrum. The diode is pumped at a 318.525 GHz. This source is generated by a tripled 106.175 GHz phase-locked InP Gunn oscillator and wave guide coupled to the mixer block. The mixer produces an IF output spectrum of 10.5 to 13 GHz, which corresponds to signals at the mixer input at 647.5 GHz to 650.0 GHz (in the radiometer upper side band) and 626.5 GHz to 624.1 GHz ( in the lower side band). The design of the 604 GHz radiometer system is similar to 637 GHz system but operates at a lower IF frequency of 2 to 3 GHz.

Diagram of the SLS frequency down-conversion scheme. RF signals enter the signal flow path through mixer feeds at the left of the diagram. At the right side, the signal flow enters a set of UARS MLS-type filterbank spectrometers where bands are further spectrally resolved, power detected, and digitized.

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Balloon, ER-2 - AFRC
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PAN and Trace Hydrohalocarbon ExpeRiment

PANTHER uses Electron Capture Detection and Gas Chromatography (ECD-GC) and Mass Selective Detection and Gas Chromatography (MSD-GC) to measure numerous trace gases, including Methyl halides, HCFCs, PAN, N20, SF6, CFC-12, CFC-11, Halon-1211, methyl chloroform, carbon tetrachloride.

3 ECD (electron capture detectors), packed columns (OV-101, Porpak-Q, molecular sieve).

1 ECD with a TE (thermal electric) cooled RTX-200 capillary column.

2-channel MSD (mass selective detector). The MSD analyses two independent samples concentrated onto TE cooled Haysep traps, then passed through two temperature programmed RTX-624 capillary columns.

With the exception of PAN, all channels of chromatography are normalized to a stable in-flight calibration gas references to NOAA scales. The PAN data is normalized to an in-flight PAN source of ≈ 100 ppt with ±5 % reproducibility. This source is generated by efficient photolytic conversion of NO in the presence of acetone. Detector non-linearity is taken out by lab calibrations for all molecules.

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