NASA STTR 2006 Solicitation


RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE:Earth Science Sensors and Instruments
PROPOSAL TITLE:Ultra Compact Cloud Physics Lidar for UAV Platforms

NAME: SIGMA SPACE CORP. NAME:University of Maryland, Baltimore County
ADDRESS:4801 Forbes Blvd ADDRESS:1000 Hilltop Circle
CITY:Lanham CITY:Baltimore
STATE/ZIP:MD  20706-4303 STATE/ZIP:MD  21250-0002
PHONE: (301) 552-6300 PHONE: (410) 455-3140

Niels   Eegholm

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT ( Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
We propose a compact two color, polarization sensitive instrument to measure cloud characteristics from high altitude UAV and can also be widely deployed as inexpensive ground based ceilometers and aerosol finders. The instrument will be modular, can operate with one or two wavelengths, and can measure depolarization or not depending on the need. The instrument is expected to be in two boxes, an optics box and an electronics box, each about half a cubic foot in size. If desired, the two boxes can be attached for a single box solution. Fiber optical technology will be used to minimize critical optical alignments and permit field replacement of the laser and detectors. Micro-optic fiber components will be used to separate the colors before detection.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Cloud Physics Lidar has demonstrated an ability to characterize clouds and atmospheric aerosols. However, the instrument is expensive to fly using manned flights and the laser is difficult to replace. The proposed instrument will take data similar to Cloud Physics Lidar, from a UAV, thus allowing extensive air coverage over environments generally considered unsafe for piloted operations (e.g. Antarctic regions) at a lower operating cost, which allows more coverage over regions of interest or over flights coordinated with ground based instruments.
Sigma will draw from its vast experience in the commercial production of Micro Pulse Lidars (MPL) in streamlining a production process for the ultra compact cloud lidars described in this proposal. The MPL instruments are deployed in stations worldwide for autonomous aerosol/dust/cloud profiling in standalone and networked configurations. A similar network of UAV based instruments leveraging production and technologies from MPL can be envisioned to provide tens of units or more to NASA and its partner stations worldwide to provide cloud monitoring on a routine basis.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The design of the compact cloud lidar lends itself to ground based applications as well. Currently NOAA owns and/or operates approximately 900 ceilometers at various monitoring stations and airports. The ceilometers have been used for severe weather prediction and aviation assistance in and around airports. Recently, NOAA has started a phased replacement of ceilometers while recognizing its limitation to cloud base estimation. The ultra compact lidar proposed here provides a novel instrument when used as a compact lidar that provides aerosol/cloud profile information, but also particle size and cloud phase from the polarization sensitive measurement ability. The commercial potential for an instrument similar in size to the existing ceilometers but with advanced capability for agencies such as NOAA and FAA would be very significant, given the number of instruments used in their existing network. Sigma has already established a business relationship with NOAA, and is working with their team in cloud profile and cloud phase measurements in the DC area

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Form Printed on 09-09-06 13:11