The proposed high-altitude atmospheric sampling system offers a paradigm shift in our ability to sample the atmospheric column using a proven trace gas sampling technique (AirCore) currently used by NASA to validate remote measurements of trace gases,and a return vehicle that expands potential sampling locations. Enhancing our ability to observe greenhouse gases with significant global warming potential and trace gases relevant to air quality is critical.Satellite trace gas observations pioneered by NASA provide information on temporal and spatial scales that is unmatched by surface observing networks, yet they cannot be calibrated to the same standards as ground-based networks. Without this comparability, the potential of satellites to detect changes and emissions of greenhouses is lost. Biases from surface albedo, aerosols and water vapor also impact these retrievals. We provide a mechanism for evaluating satellite retrievals with calibrated trace gases and aerosol measurements using the AirCore and Printed Optical Particle Spectrometer, respectively. These innovative instruments provide a powerful set of observations for over 98% of the atmosphere when incorporated into a high-altitude UAS. We directly address the SBIR Section 9, S1.08 Phase I solicitation to uniquely provide capabilities to support satellite and model validation and advancement of surface-based remote sensing and observing networks relative to current networks. We will augment and test a previously-designed platform to return high-value sensors, design a concept of operations for use in controlled airspace, and demonstrate a low-cost pathway for advancing NASA satellite validation and supplementing NASA Earth Venture suborbital mission data. This platform will also provide a means for improving weather prediction capabilities at a low cost relative to routine, commercial aircraft measurements.
Current atmospheric observing networks that are used for NASA satellite validation are limited, especially in the tropics where changes in trace gases have a profound influence on our climate. AirCore and POPS sensor glider flights can expand atmospheric profiling capabilities worldwide;increase data throughput in under sampled areas; improve NASA satellite retrievals (OCO, GeoCARB, MLS, TES, EMIT), linking them to surface observing networks; and contextualize NASA campaigns focused on atmospheric composition and climate.
A high-altitude return vehicle will revolutionize meteorological profiling worldwide with the capability to reuse and recover high-accuracy atmospheric and environmental sensors.This low-cost capability can improve weather prediction capabilities, aviation flight path modeling, and provide a pathway for atmospheric sampling and surveying in high-risk events (volcanic, toxic or natural disasters).