Medusa Whole Air Sampler

Medusa collects 32 cryogenically dried, flow and pressure controlled samples per flight. The samples are collected by an automated sampler into 1.5 L glass flasks that integrate over 25-s (1 e-fold) periods. Medusa provides discretely-sampled comparisons for onboard in situ O2/N2 ratio and CO2 measurements and unique measurements of Ar/N2 and 13C, 14C, and 18O isotopologues of CO2. The complementary measurements allow ground-truthing of onboard instrument measurements in a laboratory setting, where analysis conditions can often be more stringently controlled and carefully monitored. Isotope and argon measurements can provide additional information about land and ocean controls over the carbon cycle, and about the age and source of the air sampled.

Medusa consists of an onboard computer, two pressure controllers, two
 pumps, three multi-position selector
valves, and a host of other hardware that
control and direct the air samples. All air
is dried by passing it through traps
immersed in a -78 C dry ice bath, adjusted to match atmospheric pressure
at sea level, and then automatically isolated in a flask. Medusa flasks are analyzed on a sector-magnet mass spectrometer and a LiCor non-dispersive infrared CO2 analyzer by the Scripps O2 Program at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

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Airborne Laser Isotope Spectrometer

Isotopic CO2 measurements have been identified as an important component of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise's Carbon Cycle Initiative as part of its program in global climate change. The isotopic composition of atmospheric CO2, and especially its 13CO2/ 12CO2 ratio, is an established tool for understanding the details of the global carbon cycle, since this ratio can distinguish between oceanic and terrestrial biospheric sinks of CO2.

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Aircraft Laser Infrared Absorption Spectrometer

ALIAS (Aircraft Laser Infrared Absorption Spectrometer) measures total water, total water isotopes, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide isotope ratios. No other instrument provides real-time measurements of carbon dioxide isotope ratios which are clear identifiers of atmospheric transport (18O/17O/16O for stratospheric intrusion, 13C/12C for anthropogenic signals). ALIAS easily adapts to changing mission priorities and can be configured to measure HCl, CH4, SO2, and N2O by simply replacing a semiconductor laser. These measurements contribute to Atmospheric Composition Focus Area research by providing key data on how convective processes affect stratospheric composition, the development of cirrus particles and their affect on Earth's radiative balance, and health of the ozone layer through measurement of chlorine partitioning.

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