Aircraft and Instruments

    There are 15 instruments involved in the GRIP mission. Instrument descriptions and links to their respective websites follow.

    › DC-8 Instruments
    › Global Hawk Instruments
    › WB-57 Instruments


    DC-8 Instruments


    Image of DC-8 with instruments labeled

    The DC-8, with instruments labeled.

    APR-2 (Airborne Precipitation Radar)
    The APR-2 is a dual-frequency weather radar. It looks downward and scans its antenna cross-track, acquiring a three-dimensional image of the precipitation underneath the NASA DC-8 aircraft. At each point in this 3-D image, APR-2 measures several characteristics of the precipitation: radar reflectivity (the "brightness" at each frequency), depolarization (caused by irregularly shape/melting ice particles), and Doppler velocity (measurement of the precipitation’s upward/downward motion). These measurements can be used to infer rainfall rate, location of ice, and updraft velocity, which are, in turn, related to the release of latent heating, which provides the energy for hurricanes. The 13 and 35 GHz frequencies used for APR-2 were chosen for accurate rainfall measurement and will be used on the NASA Global Precipitation Measurement mission’s radar.
    For more information

    CAPS (Cloud Aerosol and Precipitation Spectrometer)
    The CAPS (the Cloud Aerosol and Precipitation Spectrometer) measures concentrations and records images of cloud particles from approximately 50-1600 microns in diameter with a resolution of 25 microns per pixel. CAPS measures cloud droplet and aerosol concentrations within the size range of 0.5-50 microns.
    For more information

    CSI (Cloud Spectrometer and Impactor)
    The Cloud Spectrometer and Impactor (CSI) measures total condensed (liquid + ice) water content.
    For more information

    DAWN (Doppler Aerosol WiNd lidar)
    DAWN (Doppler Aerosol WiNd lidar) is a pulsed laser, 2-micron, and solid-state. It pulses at 10 Hertz with 250 mJ pulses that are 200 ns long full width at half maximum (FWHM). Using the wedge scanner, five different azimuth angles are measured: 1) to end up with five equations for the three unknown components of wind vs. altitude, 2) to mitigate cloud obscurations, and 3) to measure the atmospheric variability.

    DAWN will provide vertical profiles of u, v, and w components of 3-D wind in the region below the aircraft. Various vertical and horizontal resolutions are possible. DAWN will also provide vertical profiles of line of sight (LOS) wind for the five (5) azimuth angles; vertical profiles of relative aerosol backscatter in the region below the aircraft, for the five (5) azimuth angles; vertical profiles of wind turbulence in the region below the aircraft, for the five (5) azimuth angles; and correlations of the data products vs. height.
    For more information

    Dropsondes
    Dropsondes or Dropwinsondes are fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers to measure the atmospheric state parameters (temp, humidity, windspeed/direction pressure) and location in 3 dimensional space during the sonde's descent once each half second. Measurements are transmitted to the aircraft from the time of release until impact with the ocean's surface.

    LARGE (Langley Aerosol Research Group Experiment)
    Langley Aerosol Research Group Experiment (LARGE) measures ultrafine aerosol number density, total and non-volatile aerosol number density, dry aerosol size distribution from 0.01 to 10 mm, total and submicron aerosol absorption coefficients at 470, 535, and 670 nanometers (nm), total and submicron aerosol scattering coefficients at 550 nm, and total scattering and hemispheric backscattering coefficients at 400, 550 and 700 nm. LARGE derives aerosol size statistics (mode, number and mass mean diameters, etc.), aerosol surface area and mass loading, aerosol extinction, single scattering albedo, and angstrom coefficients.

    PIP (Precipitation and Imaging Probe)
    The Precipitation and Imaging Probe (PIP) measures the concentration and records images of cloud particles from approximately 500-30000 microns in diameter with a resolution of 100 microns per pixel.

    LASE (Lidar Atmospheric Sensing Experiment)
    NASA's Lidar Atmospheric Sensing Experiment (LASE) system is an airborne Differential Absorption Lidar (DIAL) system used to measure water vapor, aerosols, and clouds throughout the troposphere. The Differential Absorption Lidar uses the backscatter of four simultaneous laser wavelengths through zenith and nadir quartz windows to measure the vertical profiles of ozone (O3) and aerosols/clouds.

    LASE probes the atmosphere using lasers to transmit light in the 815-nm absorption band of water vapor. Pulses of laser light are fired vertically below the aircraft. A small fraction of the transmitted laser light is reflected from the atmosphere back to the aircraft and collected with a telescope receiver. The received light indicates the amount of water vapor along the path of the laser beam.
    For more information

    MMS (Meteorological Measurement System)
    The Meteorological Measurement System (MMS) provides high-resolution and accurate meteorological parameters. MMS measures atmospheric pressure, temperature, air turbulence, and the direction and speed of winds (both horizontal and vertical) immediately around the plane. These fundamental meteorological measurements give a picture of the environment through which the plane is flying and collecting samples. These variables are intertwined with other measurements, such as relative humidity.
    For more information

    Global Hawk Instruments


    Global Hawk with instruments labeled

    Global Hawk, with instruments labeled.

    Global Hawk Dropsonde
    The Global Hawk dropsonde is a miniaturized version of standard RD-93 dropsondes based largely on recent MIST driftsondes deployed from balloons. The dropsonde provides vertical profiles of pressure, temperature, humidity, and winds. Data from these sondes are transmitted in near real-time via Iridium or Ku-band satellite to the ground-station, where additional processing will be performed for transmission of the data via the Global Telecommunications System (GTS) for research and operational use.
    For more information

    HAMSR (High Altitude MMIC Sounding Radiometer)
    The High Altitude monolithic microwave integrated Circuit (MMIC) Sounding Radiometer (HAMSR) is a microwave atmospheric sounder developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. under the NASA Instrument Incubator Program. Operating with 25 spectral channels in 3 bands ( 50-60Ghz, 118 Ghz 183 HGz region), features it provides measurements that can be used to infer the 3-D distribution of temperature, water vapor, and cloud liquid water in the atmosphere, even in the presence of clouds. The new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV-)HAMSR with 183GHz LNA receiver reduces noise to less than a 0.1K level improving observations of small-scale water vapor. HAMSR is mounted in payload zone 3 near the nose of the Global Hawk.
    For more information

    HIWRAP (High-Altitude Imaging Wind and Rain Airborne Profiler)
    HIWRAP (High-Altitude Imaging Wind and Rain Airborne Profiler) is a dual-frequency radar (Ka- and Ku-band), dual-beam (300 and 400 incidence angle), conical scan, solid-state transmitter-based system, designed for operation on the high-altitude (20 km) Global Hawk UAV. HIWRAP characteristics: Conically scanning; Simultaneous Ku/Ka-band & two beams @30 and 40 deg; Winds using precipitation & clouds as tracers; Ocean vector wind scatterometry; Map the 3-dimensional winds and precipitation within hurricanes and other severe weather events; Map ocean surface winds in clear to light rain regions using scatterometry.
    For more information

    LIP (Lightning Instrument Package)
    The LIP (Lightning Instrument Package) measures lightning, electric fields, electric field changes, air conductivity. LIP provides real time electric field data for science and operations support.
    The LIP is comprised of a set of optical and electrical sensors with a wide range of temporal, spatial, and spectral resolution to observe lightning and investigate electrical environments within and above thunderstorms. The instruments provide measurements of the air conductivity and vertical electric field above thunderstorms and provide estimates of the storm electric currents. In addition, LIP will detect total storm lightning and differentiate between intracloud and cloud-to-ground discharges.This data is used in studies of lightning/storm structure and lightning precipitation relationships.
    For more information


    WB-57 Instruments


    WB-57 with instruments labeled

    WB-57, with instruments labeled.

    AMPR (Advanced Microwave Precipitation Radiometer)
    The Advanced Microwave Precipitation Radiometer (AMPR) remotely senses passive microwave signatures of geophysical parameters from an airborne platform. The instrument is a low noise system which can provide multi-frequency microwave imagery with high spatial and temporal resolution. AMPR data are collected at a combination of frequencies (10.7, 19.35, 37.1, and 85.5 GHz) unique to current NASA aircraft instrumentation. These frequencies are well suited to the study of rain cloud systems, but are also useful to studies of various ocean and land surface processes. AMPR will be in a new total dual-polarization configuration.
    For more information

    HIRAD (Hurricane Imaging Radiometer)
    HIRAD (Hurricane Imaging Radiometer) is a hurricane imaging, single-pol passive C-band radiometer with both cross-track and along-track resolution that measures strong ocean surface winds through heavy rain from an aircraft or space-based platform. Its swath width is approximately 60 degrees in either direction. There are two products: rain rate and wind speed.
    For more information

    Click here for more information on all instruments on the GRIP Mission.

    Pilot Biographies
    View Now