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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JPL Mark IV Balloon Interferometer

The MkIV interferometer operates in solar absorption mode, meaning that direct sunlight is spectrally analyzed and the amount of various gases at different heights in the Earth's atmosphere is derived from the shapes and depths of their absorption lines. The optical design of the MkIV interferometer is based largely on that of the ATMOS instrument, which has flown four times on the Space Shuttle. The first three mirrors in the optical path comprise the suntracker. Two of these mirrors are servo-controlled in order to compensate for any angular motion of the observation platform. The subsequent wedged KBr plates, flats, and cube-corner retro-reflectors comprise a double-passed Michelson interferometer, whose function is to impart a wavelength-dependent modulation to the solar beam. This is achieved by sliding one of the retro-reflectors at a uniform velocity so that the recombining beams interfere with each other. A paraboloid then focusses the solar beam onto infrared detectors, which measure the interferometrically modulated solar signal. Finally, Fourier transformation of the recorded detector outputs yields the solar spectrum. An important advantage of the MkIV Interferometer is that by employing a dichroic to feed two detectors in parallel, a HgCdTe photoconductor for the low frequencies (650-1850 cm-1) and a InSb photodiode for the high frequencies (1850-5650 cm-1), the entire mid-infrared region can be observed simultaneously with good linearity and signal-to-noise ratio. In this region over 30 different gases have identifiable spectral signatures including H2O, O3, N2O, CO, CH4, NO, NO2, HNO3, HNO4, N2O5, H2O2, ClNO3, HOCl, HCl, HF, COF2, CF4, SF6, CF2ClCFCl2, CHF2Cl, CF2Cl2, CFCl3, CCl4, CH3Cl, C2H2, C2H6, OCS, HCN, N2, O2, CO2 and many isotopic variants. The last three named gases, having well known atmospheric abundances, are important in establishing the observation geometry of each spectrum, which otherwise can be a major source of uncertainty. Similarly, from analysis of T-sensitive CO2 lines, the temperature profile can be accurately determined. The simultaneity of the observations of all these gases greatly simplifies the interpretation of the results, which are used for testing computer models of atmospheric transport and chemistry, validation of satellite data, and trend determination.

Although the MkIV can measure gas column abundances at any time during the day, the highest sensitivity to atmospheric trace gases is obtained by observing sunrise or sunset from a balloon. The very long (~ 400 km) atmospheric paths traversed by incoming rays in this observation geometry also make this so-called solar occultation technique insensitive to local contamination.

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Balloon, DC-8 - AFRC
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