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Remote Sens. 2012, 4(4), 867-910; doi:10.3390/rs4040867
Article

A Novel Satellite Mission Concept for Upper Air Water Vapour, Aerosol and Cloud Observations Using Integrated Path Differential Absorption LiDAR Limb Sounding

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1 Centre for Atmospheric Science, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Downing Place, Cambridge CB2 3EN, UK 2 National Centre for Earth Observation, University of Reading, Earley Gate, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6BB, UK 3 Computer Vision and Robotics group, University of Girona, Campus de Montilivi, P4 building, E-17071 Girona, Spain 4 School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Dublin City University, Collins Avenue, Dublin 9, Ireland 5 Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace, Supaero, 4 Avenue Edouard Belin, F-31054 Toulouse, France 6 Department of Geology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 3B1, Canada 7 Systems and Concurrent Engineering Section, ESTEC, ESA, Keplerlaan 1, 2200 AG Noordwijk, The Netherlands 8 Department of Geography and Regional Science, University of Graz, Heinrichstrasse 36, A-8010 Graz, Austria 9 Institute of Atmospheric Physics, German Aerospace Center, Oberpfaffenhofen, D-82234 Wessling, Germany 10 Institute for Energy Systems and Thermodynamics, Vienna University of Technology, Getreidemarkt 9/6, A-1060 Vienna, Austria 11 Institute of Environmental Physics (IUP), University of Bremen FB1, Otto Hahn Allee 1, D-28334 Bremen, Germany 12 Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3PU, UK 13 Institute of Communication Networks and Satellite Communications, Graz University of Technology, Inffeldgasse 12, A-8010 Graz, Austria 14 International Space University, F-67400 Illkirch-Graffenstaden, France 15 Institute for Geography, University of Augsburg, Universitaetsstrasse 1 a, D-86159 Augsburg, Germany
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 February 2012 / Revised: 15 March 2012 / Accepted: 20 March 2012 / Published: 27 March 2012
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Abstract

We propose a new satellite mission to deliver high quality measurements of upper air water vapour. The concept centres around a LiDAR in limb sounding by occultation geometry, designed to operate as a very long path system for differential absorption measurements. We present a preliminary performance analysis with a system sized to send 75 mJ pulses at 25 Hz at four wavelengths close to 935 nm, to up to 5 microsatellites in a counter-rotating orbit, carrying retroreflectors characterized by a reflected beam divergence of roughly twice the emitted laser beam divergence of 15 µrad. This provides water vapour profiles with a vertical sampling of 110 m; preliminary calculations suggest that the system could detect concentrations of less than 5 ppm. A secondary payload of a fairly conventional medium resolution multispectral radiometer allows wide-swath cloud and aerosol imaging. The total weight and power of the system are estimated at 3 tons and 2,700 W respectively. This novel concept presents significant challenges, including the performance of the lasers in space, the tracking between the main spacecraft and the retroreflectors, the refractive effects of turbulence, and the design of the telescopes to achieve a high signal-to-noise ratio for the high precision measurements. The mission concept was conceived at the Alpbach Summer School 2010.
Keywords: UTLS; stratosphere; active limb sounding; laser occultation; spaceborne retroreflectors UTLS; stratosphere; active limb sounding; laser occultation; spaceborne retroreflectors
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Hoffmann, A.; Clifford, D.; Aulinas, J.; Carton, J.G.; Deconinck, F.; Esen, B.; Hüsing, J.; Kern, K.; Kox, S.; Krejci, D.; Krings, T.; Lohrey, S.; Romano, P.; Topham, R.; Weitnauer, C. A Novel Satellite Mission Concept for Upper Air Water Vapour, Aerosol and Cloud Observations Using Integrated Path Differential Absorption LiDAR Limb Sounding. Remote Sens. 2012, 4, 867-910.

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