A WINter EXperiment (WINTEX) is being conducted from Madison, Wisconsin from March 15 to April 2 to define the measurement requirements for the next generation of the National Polar Orbiter Environmental Satellite System and to further global climate studies. NASA’s high altitude Environmental Research aircraft (the ER-2) flies 19 km above the earth to simulate satellite observations. The ER-2 carries highly advanced sensors of surface, cloud, and atmospheric temperature and moisture profile conditions using two different types of instruments—imagers and sounders.
The imagers provide visible and infrared pictures of clouds, the atmosphere, and Earth’s surface, with a surface resolution of 50 meters. The sounders provide temperature and moisture profile observations similar to what is traditionally obtained by an ascending weather balloon. From the ER-2, however, these profiles will be obtained with exceptionally high spatial resolution, every 2.5 km within a 46 km wide swath along the flight track of the ER-2 aircraft.
WINTEX has two major objectives:
The University of Wisconsin–Madison has also established a ground-based system of lasers, interferometers, and weather balloons to validate the ER-2 sounding and cloud observations over Madison.
The ER-2 sounding sensors were developed jointly by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratories, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and NASA under the sponsorship of the Integrated Program Office, an Air Force, NOAA, and NASA group developing this nation’s next generation polar orbiting weather satellite system. The ER-2 sounding measurements, of much higher resolution and higher accuracy than is currently achievable from today’s weather satellites, will be used to refine the measurement characteristics for next generation systems. Improvements in local, regional, and global weather forecasts will result from the operational implementation of these sensors. The ER-2 measurements obtained during WINTEX are also being used to validate algorithms being developed to process imaging and sounding data from NASA’s Earth Observing System (EOS) satellites, the first of which is scheduled to be launched in July 1999.
You can find more details on the mission and instruments on the WINTEX page under Instrumentation and Objectives. A Photo Gallery shows pictures from the mission.
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