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UAS Chromatograph for Atmospheric Trace Species (UCATS) – a versatile...

Hintsa, E., F. Moore, D. Hurst, G. Dutton, B. Hall, J. D. Nance, B. Miller, S. Montzka, L. P. Wolton, A. McClure-Begley, J. W. Elkins, E. Hall, A. Jordan, A. Rollins, T. Thornberry, L. Watts, C. Thompson, J. Peischl, I. Bourgeois, T. B. Ryerson, B. Daube, Y. Gonzalez, R. Commane, G. Santoni, J. V. Pittman, S. C. Wofsy, E. Kort, G. S. Diskin, and T. P. Bui (2021), UAS Chromatograph for Atmospheric Trace Species (UCATS) – a versatile instrument for trace gas measurements on airborne platforms, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 14, 6795-6819, doi:10.5194/amt-14-6795-2021.

UCATS (the UAS Chromatograph for Atmospheric Trace Species) was designed and built for observations of important atmospheric trace gases from unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS). Initially it measured major chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and the stratospheric transport tracers nitrous oxide (N2 O) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6 ), using gas chromatography with electron capture detection. Compact commercial absorption spectrometers for ozone (O3 ) and water vapor (H2 O) were added to enhance its capabilities on platforms with relatively small payloads. UCATS has since been reconfigured to measure methane (CH4 ), carbon monoxide (CO), and molecular hydrogen (H2 ) instead of CFCs and has undergone numerous upgrades to its subsystems. It has served as part of large payloads on stratospheric UAS missions to probe the tropical tropopause region and transport of air into the stratosphere; in piloted aircraft studies of greenhouse gases, transport, and chemistry in the troposphere; and in 2021 is scheduled to return to the study of stratospheric ozone and halogen compounds, one of its original goals. Each deployment brought different challenges, which were largely met or resolved. The design, capabilities, modifications, and some results from UCATS are shown and described here, including changes for future missions.

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Research Program: 
Tropospheric Composition Program (TCP)
Upper Atmosphere Research Program (UARP)
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