Imperative I

Maintain the EOL facilities that are deployed using NSF “deployment pool” funds so that they are ready for reliable and safe operation in anticipated field programs

State-of-the-art, accurate observations and measurements of the atmosphere and other parts of the Earth system continue to be the driver for scientific discovery and impetus for advances in geosciences. Such observations are also critical inputs for the robust performance and continued development of weather, climate, and chemistry models.  Therefore, our first Imperative is the maintenance of NSF-funded Lower Atmosphere Observing Facilities (LAOF) for research in atmospheric science, with emphasis on systems that are beyond the capabilities of most universities or smaller groups.

In this endeavor, EOL conducts countless day-to-day efforts to preserve and consistently improve the NSF LAOF resources that are entrusted to NCAR, and to maintain readiness for a vigorous deployment schedule (see Imperative II). In the run-up to each field campaign, all instruments undergo exhaustive testing by EOL engineers and technicians to ensure optimal campaign performance. After the field phase commences, it often becomes necessary to make adjustments or upgrades to overcome difficult or unforeseen environmental conditions in order to meet scientific objectives. Then, upon completion of the field phase, calibrations, repairs and reconditioning are often required to maintain instrumentation readiness state for the next activity. The activities described below are a sampling of these efforts for FY 2016.


IS-BAO Stage III Audit Results
A Stage III International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) Stage 3 Audit took place at RAF in April 2016.  The IS-BAO audit process is designed to help flight IS-BAO Logofacilities achieve high levels of safety and professionalism. The last stage in the IS-BAO audit process is meant to prove that the audited facility is not only following the rules of the IS-BAO manuals but also working with a self-improvement mentality. Auditors inspected RAF’s operations, maintenance, and safety, and the results were outstanding. Exactly zero violations or “findings” were reported, meaning that RAF is a “top one percenter” facility, according to the inspectors’ outbrief.  RAF’s culture of safety and the backing of EOL and NCAR top-level management helped ensure the success of the audit. For more information on what a Stage 3 audit entails, please see here.


National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) course

EOL and UCAR Communications organized a full-day National Transportation Safety Board training course titled “Managing Communications Following a Major Aviation Accident or Incident”.  The June 2016 training highlighted the importance of communications in the event of a major accident. The impact of social media during such an event and the value in coordinating online posts with press briefings were especially discussed and apparent.   


Expanding HCR’s Capabilities to Include Ground-based Operations
Ground-based HCR illustrationThe HIAPER Cloud Radar (HCR) underwent significant improvements to its ground-based home.  Besides some initial prototyping, the HCR has always been an airborne instrument with storage between projects taking place in a seatainer alongside the High Spectral Resolution Lidar (HSRL).  The HCR’s side of the seatainer was upgraded by DFS with a larger 36-inch Cassegrain antenna, vibration isolators, and a new bench for much easier installation and transport.  The new bench features rollers for sliding the radar into the seatainer and a lifting mechanism for positioning the radar into its upright, operational position.  Since the radar must be transported in a horizontal position, the vibration isolators will prevent damage. These new upgrades give the HCR more versatility, allowing for deployment as a ground-based system.


S-Pol at Marshall

Through our partnership with the NOAA Radar Operation Center, the S-Pol radar has been set up at the Marshall Field Site. This includes completing the inter-container wiring, lightning protection, fall protection, air conditioner setup, the placement of the SCC and Tech containers, and a fiber network connection, among other work.  Work will continue in FY 2017 on finishing waveguide installation, testing of various subsystems, radar calibration, and various smaller tasks. This move ensures that S-Pol can be maintained for use by the community for field campaigns, if requested.


Dropsonde Updates and Improvements
Global Hawk dropsonde systemEOL’s Design and Fabrication Services (DFS) Facility completed work in 2016 to develop and apply mechanical updates to the automatic dropsonde system for use on the NASA Global Hawk aircraft. This included updating the dropsonde storage release system to the same design as the NSF/NCAR GV system for releasing dropsondes from the storage compartment. The new design and the GV system use a spring return rather than a mass-balance system for the dropsonde release from the storage container. In addition, the rail spacing between compartments holding all the dropsondes was widened to allow for tolerances in dropsonde diameter, as there were variations from sonde to sonde, which caused the dropsondes to catch during the release process. DFS also designed and fabricated a test fixture to easily verify dropsonde diameter to insure uniform dropsonde tube shapes. The In Situ Sensing Facility (ISF) updated the launcher firmware for improved fault detection in the system if issues do occur. ISF and DFS worked very closely together on this project, as all the wiring had to be completely disassembled and reassembled along with full system testing for these modifications. During the rewiring process by ISF, changes were made such that the total sonde capacity has been increased from 88 to 90 dropsondes for each flight.