High Spectral Resolution Lidar 2

The NASA Langley airborne High Spectral Resolution Lidar 2 (HSRL) is used to characterize clouds and small particles in the atmosphere, called aerosols. From an airborne platform, the HSRL2 scientist team studies aerosol size, composition, distribution and movement.

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FSSP-300 Aerosol Spectrometer

Instrument: FSSP-300 Aerosol Spectrometer


Principal Investigator: Guy V. Ferry



NASA-Ames Research Center

M.S. 245-5

Moffett Field, CA 94035-1000


Principal Investigators: James E. Dye (303) 497-8944 Darrel Baumgardner (303) 497-1054 FAX (303) 497-8181 Organization: National Center for Atmospheric Research 1850 Table Mesa Drive Boulder, Co 80307 Principle of Operation: The Forward Scattering Spectrometer Probe (FSSP) Model 300 sizes particles by measuring the amount of laser light scattered from angles of 4 to 12&degree; by aerosol particles in situ as they pass through a focused laser beam. Comparison of voltage outputs from the signal detector and a masked slit detector is used to electro-optically define the sample area. Fig. 1 shows the configuration of the instrument. The instrument system is composed of two parts: (l) a Particle Measuring Systems model FSSP-300 aerosol spectrometer, and (2) a data acquisition and recording system. The FSSP-300 aerosol spectrometer is located on the front of the starboard spear pod of the ER-2. The data acquisition and recording system is part of the package that houses the FPCAS aerosol spectrometer located in the bottom, rear portion of the starboard spear pod of the ER-2. The FSSP-300 aerosol spectrometer sizes particles in the 0.4 to 20 micron diameter size range (depending on the refractive index of the aerosol particles measured) in the free air stream outside the ER-2. The measured particles are divided into 31 size intervals with more resolution at smaller sizes.


Detection Limit: 0.4 to 20 micrometers diameter Sampling Rate: 0.1 Hertz Location on ER-2: Nose of right pod. Reference: Baumgardner, D., et al. ~Interpretation of Measurements made by the FSSP-300 during the Airborne Arctic Stratosphenc Expedition." J. Geophys. Res. In press. 1992.


High Spectral Resolution Lidar

The NASA Langley airborne High Spectral Resolution Lidar (HSRL) is used to characterize clouds and small particles in the atmosphere, called aerosols. From an airborne platform, the HSRL scientist team studies aerosol size, composition, distribution and movement.

The HSRL instrument is an innovative technology that is similar to radar; however, with lidar, radio waves are replaced with laser light. Lidar allows researchers to see the vertical dimension of the atmosphere, and the advanced HSRL makes measurements that can even distinguish among different aerosol types and their sources. The HSRL technique takes advantage of the spectral distribution of the lidar return signal to discriminate aerosol and molecular signals and thereby measure aerosol extinction and backscatter independently.

The HSRL provides measurements of aerosol extinction at 532 nm and aerosol backscatter and depolarization at 532 and 1064 nm. The HSRL measurements of aerosol extinction, backscattering, and depolarization profiles are being used to:

1) characterize the spatial and vertical distributions of aerosols
2) quantify aerosol extinction and optical thickness contributed by various aerosol types
3) investigate aerosol variability near clouds
4) evaluate model simulations of aerosol transport
5) assess aerosol optical properties derived from a combination of surface, airborne, and satellite measurements.

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B-200 - LARC, DC-8 - AFRC, NASA P-3 Orion - WFF
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Aerosol Lidar

The Aerosol Lidar system measures profiles of aerosol and/or cloud backscatter at 532 and 1064 nm and aerosol/cloud depolarization at 532 nm. Backscatter profiles at these two wavelengths provide information on the relative concentration and spatial distribution of aerosol/cloud particles. Comparison of aerosol/cloud backscatter at the two wavelengths provides some indication of particle size. Measurement of the depolarizing effect of the particles (that is, the degree to which the polarization of the backscattered light from the particles differs from the linear polarization of the transmitted laser light) provides an indication of particle phase.

The Aerosol Lidar is a piggy-back instrument on AROTEL lidar fielded by John Burris and Tom McGee of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The light source for the aerosol measurements is a Continuum 9050 Nd:YAG laser operating at 50 shots per second. The laser transmits approximately 600 mJ at 1064 nm, 250 mJ at 532 nm, and 350 mJ at 355 nm. AROTEL also employs an excimer laser transmitting at 308 nm and uses the molecular and Raman backscatter from the 355 and 308 beams to measure ozone and temperature. Backscattered light at all wavelengths is collected by a 16-inch diameter Newtonian telescope with a selectable field stop. In the aft optics assembly following the telescope and field stop, the UV signals are separated from the 532- and 1064-nm signals by a dichroic beam splitter. The UV signals are directed to the AROTEL receiver assembly and the 532- and 1064-nm signals are directed to the Aerosol Lidar receiver assembly. In the Aerosol Lidar receiver, a rotating shutter blocks the very strong near-range 532- and 1064-nm signals in order to reduce distortion in the relatively weaker signals from higher altitudes. The 532- and 1064-nm signals are separated by a dichroic beam splitter and the 532-nm signal is further separated into orthogonal polarization components using a polarizing beam cube. A computer-controlled half-wave plate in front of the polarizing beam cube is rotated so that the polarization of the 532 signals are parallel and perpendicular to the polarization of the transmitted laser pulses. The signals at both wavelengths and both 532-nm polarizations are transmitted to detectors at the Aerosol Lidar data acquisition rack via fiber optic cables. Each optical signal, the 1064-nm total backscatter and the 532-nm parallel and perpendicularly polarized backscatter, is directed to two separate detectors, with 10% going to one detector and 90% to the other, in order to more accurately measure the signals over their full dynamic range. The 532-nm returns are measured with photo-multiplier tubes and the 1064-nm returns are measured with avalanche photo-diodes. Because of the high optical signal levels, all data are acquired in analog mode, using 12-bit analog-to-digital converters. The instrument operates under both daytime and nighttime lighting conditions, with a slight degradation in data quality during the daytime.

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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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