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Modular Aerial Sensing System

The Modular Aerial Sensing System (MASS) is a compact airborne sensor package of optical remote sensing instrumentation that is coupled to a tactical grade inertial navigation system. The system includes a waveform scanning lidar; visible, infrared, and hyperspectral imaging systems; and an infrared pyrometer.

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Twin Otter International, Partenavia P68C (Aspen Helicopter), Gulfstream V - JSC
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Twin Otter International

Twin Otter International Ltd. (TOIL) operates a fleet of DHC-6 (Twin Otter) research aircraft. The twin otter is a STOL twin turboprop aircraft ideally suited for medium lift, slow flight. TOIL’s aircraft are equipped with a variety of modifications included; nadir and zenith ports, centerline hard points (nose and main fuselage), NATO wing hard points (4 stations), and up to 8400W science equipment power. TOIL aircraft have been integrated with over 50 different type instruments in support of several USG agencies worldwide.

Twin Otter International
Conventional Aircraft
5 hours (payload and weather dependent)
Useful Payload: 
4 500 lbs
Gross Take-off Weight: 
12 500 lbs
Onboard Operators: 
Max Altitude: 
25,000 MSL
Air Speed: 
65 knots
2 000 Nmi
5600W (200A MOD) OR 8400W (300A MOD)

Portable Remote Imaging Spectrometer

The coastal zone is home to a high fraction of humanity and increasingly affected by natural and human-induced events from tsunamis to toxic tidal blooms. Current satellite data provide a broad overview of these events but do not have the necessary spectral, spatial and temporal, resolution to characterize and understand these events.

To address this gap, a compact, lightweight, airborne Portable Remote Imaging SpectroMeter (PRISM) compatible with a wide range of piloted and Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platforms are curently being developed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Operating between the spectral range of 350 nm and 1050 nm, PRISM will offer high temporal resolution and below cloud flight altitudes to resolve spatial features as small as 30 cm. The sensor performance exceeds the state of the art in light throughput, spectral and spatial uniformity, and polarization insensitivity by factors of 2-10, while at the same time extending the spectral range into the ultraviolet. PRISM will also have a two-channel spot radiometer at short-wave infrared (SWIR) band (1240 nm and 1640 nm). It will be in co-alignment with the spectrometer in order to provide accurate atmospheric correction of the ocean color measurements.

The development of the PRISM instrument is supported by NASA Earth Science Division’s the Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry, Earth Science Technology, and Airborne Sciences programs within NASA’s Earth Science Division.

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14-channel NASA Ames Airborne Tracking Sunphotometer

AATS-14 measures direct solar beam transmission at 14 wavelengths between 354 and 2139 nm in narrow channels with bandwidths between 2 and 5.6 nm for the wavelengths less than 1640 nm and 17.3 nm for the 2139 nm channel. The transmission measurements at all channels except 940 nm are used to retrieve spectra of aerosol optical depth (AOD). In addition, the transmission at 940 nm and surrounding channels is used to derive columnar water vapor (CWV) [Livingston et al., 2008]. Methods for AATS-14 data reduction, calibration, and error analysis have been described extensively, for example, by Russell et al. [2007] and Shinozuka et al. [2011]. AATS-14 measurements of spectral AOD and CWV obtained during aircraft vertical profiles can be differentiated to determine corresponding vertical profiles of spectral aerosol extinction and water vapor density. Such measurements have been used extensively in the characterization of the horizontal and vertical distribution of aerosol optical properties and in the validation of satellite aerosol sensors. For example, in the Aerosol Characterization Experiment-Asia (ACE-Asia), AATS measurements were used for closure (consistency) studies with in situ aerosol samplers aboard the NCAR C-130 and the CIRPAS Twin-Otter aircraft, and with ground-based lidar systems. In ACE-Asia, CLAMS (Chesapeake Lighthouse & Aircraft Measurements for Satellites, 2001), the Extended-MODIS-λ Validation Experiment (EVE), INTEX-A, INTEX-B, and ARCTAS, AATS results have been used in the validation of satellite sensors aboard various EOS platforms, providing important aerosol information used in the improvement of retrieval algorithms for the MISR and MODIS sensors among others.

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