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Crosslink TM

The Aerospace Corporation magazine of advances in aerospace technology

F lying in t o the
r o ck et plume

A er ospac e tak es
lidar t o new
heigh ts

IR e y es high
in the sk y

P hot o gr aph y and

pr edic tion

Wea ther and

w ar far e

O bserving and measuring the atmosphere

The Aerospace Corporation celebrates 40 years Summer 2000
Summer 2000 Vol. 1 No. 2

Departments 4
Rockets and the Ozone Layer
Martin N. Ross (left), Environmental Sys-
tems Directorate, leads research on the
stratospheric impact of Air Force launch ve-

2 Headlines hicles. He holds a Ph.D. from the University

of California at Los Angeles in Earth and
planetary sciences and has been with Aero-
space since 1989 (martin.n.ross@aero.org).

38 Bookmarks Paul F. Zittel (right), Remote Sensing De-

partment, leads research on the radiative
and chemical properties of rocket plumes
and has conducted basic research in the

40 Links areas of laser-induced chemistry, vibra-

tional energy transfer, and cryogenic spec-
troscopy. He holds a Ph.D. in physical
chemistry from the University of California
at Berkeley and has been with Aerospace
since 1976 (paul.f.zittel@aero.org).

4 11 18 26

From the Editor

pace technology and atmospheric science are related in many ways. Space pro-
vides a unique vantage point for observing weather systems, and with the ever-
increasing frequency of satellite launches, the effect of rocket exhaust on the
environment has become a concern. In this issue, Crosslink explores the contri-
butions made by Aerospace in the areas of weather forecasting and atmospheric analysis.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of The Aerospace Corporation. In its trusted role
as space systems engineer for the Air Force, the National Reconnaissance Office, and
other government agencies, the corporation has made lasting contributions to the
nation’s space programs. In celebration of the accomplishments of the last 40 years,
Crosslink introduces a series of historical articles on Aerospace’s involvement in various
military and civil programs during those years. The series begins with an article on the
Jon M. Neff Defense Support Program.
Crosslink presents this historical series to commemorate the contributions of all those
who have worked on these programs through the years. These past accomplishments are
noted as well for their significance as foundations for the important work ahead to meet
the space-technology needs of our government and commercial partners in the complex
environment of the future.
Water-Vapor Lidar Extends to the Tropopause
John Wessel (right), Photonics Technol-
ogy Department, supports DMSP in the
The Defense Support Program
Fred Simmons (left), consultant to the
Space Based Infrared Systems pro-
areas of meteorological lidar and mi- gram, has been the coordinator of var-
crowave remote sensing and has con- ious studies for SMC, BMDO, and
ducted research in molecular, atomic, DARPA. He holds a Ph.D. in aerospace
semiconductor, and surface spectro- science from the University of Michi-
scopies. He holds a Ph.D. in chemical gan and has been with Aerospace
physics from the University of Chicago since 1971 (frederick.s.simmons@aero.
and has been with Aerospace since 1974 org). Jim Creswell (right), with 35
(john.e.wessel@aero.org). Robert W. Far- years of experience in space-based
ley (left), Photonics Technology Depart- warning satellite development and
ment, is responsible for the development operations, has been working as a
and operation of a mobile lidar system consultant on satellite-related tasks
that supports satellite programs. He holds since his retirement in 1994 from full-
a Ph.D. in chemical physics from the Uni- time employment at Aerospace.
versity of Colorado and has been with Among various appointments during
Aerospace since August 1997 (u21670@ his Aerospace career, he was director
paros.aero.org). of the Mission Support Office of the
Defense Support Program. Creswell
holds an M.S. in systems engineering
from the University of California at Los
34 Angeles and has been with Aerospace
since 1965 (james.c.creswell@aero.org).

Cloud Cover Over Kosovo
John S. Bohlson (left), Systems Direc-
tor, Sensors and Display Systems for
DMSP, supports both DMSP and the
National Polar Operational Environ-
mental Satellite System in the areas of
remote sensing, data exploitation, and
user requirements. He holds an M.S. in
meteorology from the University of
Wisconsin and has been with Aero-
space since 1988 (john.s.bohlson@
aero.org). Leslie O. Belsma (right),
Weather and Navigation Division,

Aerospace Photos Capture Launch Clouds
Robert N. Abernathy, Surveillance Tech-
nology Department, has been responsible
manages unique quality-control tasks
for the Cloud Depiction and Forecast
System II. A retired Air Force Weather
officer with an M.S. in aeronomy from
the University of Michigan, she joined
Aerospace in September 1999 (leslie.
for quantitative image processing in sup- o.belsma@aero.org). Bruce H.Thomas
port of the Atmospheric Model Validation (center) is senior project leader for the
and the Rocket Impact on Stratospheric DMSP Environmental Applications
Ozone programs since 1995. He holds a Center, Aerospace Omaha field office,
Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Pennsyl- at Offutt Air Force Base Nebraska.
vania State University and has been with Thomas established an additional lo-
Aerospace since 1980 (robert.n.abernathy cation of the Aerospace field office at
@aero.org). the Air Force Weather Agency, extend-
ing the DMSP program office into the
user community. He holds an M.S. in
atmospheric science from Creighton
University and has been with Aero-
space since 1990 (bruce.h.thomas@
Headlines For more news about Aerospace, visit www.aero.org/news/
First Launch of the GPS for the Military and Civilians
he fourth in a series of
U.S. Global Positioning

he launch of an Atlas IIA from
Cape Canaveral on February 7, System (GPS) replace-
2000, marked the first govern- ment satellites, GPS IIR4, was
ment launch of the century. It placed into launched aboard a Delta II from
orbit a DSCS III (Defense Satellite Cape Canaveral May 10, 2000.
Communications System) B8 SLEP (Ser- Aerospace reviewed the hard-
vice Life Enhancement Program), an ware, software, and procedures,
improved military communications satel- and verified that the vehicle was
lite, the seventh DSCS launched since ready for launch. Aerospace
1992. The B8 SLEP is the first of four developed the fundamental con-
improved satellites that will increase cept of GPS for the Air Force in
tactical communication. The payload 1963. Today, GPS, a constella-
included new electronics that add more tion of 28 navigational satellites
power per channel so that ground forces, that orbit 11,000 miles above
ships, aircraft, and submarines can use Earth, is used increasingly by
smaller antennas when communicating. civilians. Civilians use GPS for many purposes,
The satellite replaces the A1, launched in Civilian owners of GPS receivers including search and rescue operations
1982, in the primary DSCS Western found their systems significantly more and airplane and ground-vehicle naviga-
Pacific Theater constellation. Aerospace accurate as of May 2, 2000. That day, tion (GPS sensors placed in cars enable
provided a launch support team at the President Clinton ordered an end to the drivers to use the Internet to navigate).
Cape and supported the launch remotely intentional degradation of GPS satellite Unscrambling the signals should benefit
from locations in Colorado and Califor- signals by the military. The military will, the GPS industry, which is expected to
nia. The successful SLEP program has however, retain its right to selectively deny grow from $8 billion to $16 billion in
been in operation for four years. the GPS signals over any given region. the next three years.

TIMED to Probe Clothing That Computes

Distant Regions

oon soldiers in the

remote-sensing spacecraft carry- battlefield may be
ing a payload developed with the able to shed some of
help of Aerospace will travel 40 their 70 pounds of gear and
to 110 miles above Earth this year to a don a lightweight wearable
little-explored region of the atmosphere. computer that could send
The two-year mission, TIMED (Thermos- and receive life-saving
phere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere, Energet- information. For example,
ics, and Dynamics), will begin with a a soldier whose vehicle has
launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base. broken down could be
Its purpose is to study how humans and the wearing the repair manual.
sun influence the mesosphere and lower Sound like science fiction?
thermosphere and ionosphere. Those It isn’t. Michael Gorlick (in
regions absorb X-rays and extreme ultravi- photo), project engineer in
olet radiation. TIMED will carry the the Computer Systems
Global Ultraviolet Imager (GUVI), a joint Research Department, con-
effort between Aerospace and the Applied structed suspenders that have electrical teams could be equipped with them. The
Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins Uni- conductors woven directly into the fabric. computers may eventually be carried in
versity. Aerospace handled the design, fab- Developed as part of a joint research proj- pockets, worn on belts, attached to wrists,
rication, and operation of the instrument ect between Aerospace and The MITRE or worn as brooches and rings. Hardhats
and was also involved in the software and Corporation, the suspenders act as a bus and eyeglass frames could also house data
electronics for the GUVI payload. GUVI and data network for wearable digital networks. Imagine those involved in the
will measure profiles of the region’s com- devices. Civilian use of wearable com- meticulous work of satellite assembly
position and temperature as well as high- puters is also on the horizon. Emergency having essential information right before
latitude auroral energy input. search and rescue and disaster response their eyes.
Amazing MEMS

icroelectromechanical systems
(MEMS), machines so tiny they
cannot be seen with the naked
eye, are quickly gaining notoriety for their
capability and versatility in a variety of
areas. MEMS can be used to detect envi-
ronmental pollutants, monitor the health of
a premature newborn, sense an impending
car crash and deploy the air bag, and be
“woven” into the clothes of soldiers on the
battlefield (where the sensors would warn
against an attack by chemical or biological
weapons). A more aggressive use of
MEMS is the potential for manufacturing see how the various MEMS performed Microengineering
mass-producible, 1-kilogram-class nano- during launch, orbit, and reentry, com- Aerospace Systems
satellites with microelectronics-processing pared with their performance in preflight explains the use of
technology. tests. One device, designed and built by principles to impart
More than 30 Aerospace scientists are Aerospace, contains 15 microthrusters, “intelligence,” “voli-
involved in MEMS research, including which act like 15 individual solid rocket tion,” and “motility”
Henry Helvajian of the Aerospace Center motors. The usefulness of MEMS in space to systems on the
for Microtechnology and the editor of has yet to be fully realized, and the analy- Henry Helvajian miniature scale.
Engineering “intelli-
Microengineering Aerospace Systems (see sis by Aerospace was the first systematic gent” functionality in microsystems
sidebar). Aerospace researchers sent aloft testing of MEMS in that capacity. Another requires the ability to cofabricate micro-
a MEMS experimental testbed on the experimental MEMS test mission, planned electronics with sensors and actuators
space shuttle Columbia last year. Data for 2001, will involve the International using design rules that now approach
from 30 of the devices were analyzed to Space Station. the submicron scale, but will soon reach
the nanometer scale.The concepts, pre-
sented in 17 chapters by some of the
pioneering experts in the field, provide
Miniature Satellites Launched the foundation for enhancing existing
aerospace systems or developing new
their components, and significantly miniaturized systems, such
handled flight operations. as the nanosatellite, picosatellite, and
The primary mission was femtosatellite probe.
to demonstrate the use of The book covers the disciplines that
support microengineering: microelec-
miniature satellites in tronics,microelectromechanical systems
testing DARPA micro- (MEMS), microsystems, nanoelectronics,
electromechanical systems advanced packaging, material process-
(MEMS). The two pico- ing, micromachining, control systems,
sats were positioned in a information theory, and the basic disci-
plines (physics, chemistry, and mechan-
low Earth orbit after they ics). Third in a series of publications
were released February 6, covering this rapidly advancing technol-
2000, from the Orbiting ogy,Microengineering Aerospace Systems
Picosatellite Automated uses a textbook tutorial style to present
Launcher (OPAL), a satel- fundamental aspects of the technology
and specific aerospace systems applica-
lite built by Stanford University students.

he tiniest operational satellites ever tions through worked examples.
placed in orbit were launched The satellites were joined by a tether,
aboard a new Air Force booster for which kept them in range of each other for 1999 • 707 pp • ISBN 1-884989-03-9
light satellites January 26, 2000, from crosslink purposes as they simulated for- Published by The Aerospace Press and
mation flying. Thin strands of gold wire in American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Vandenberg Air Force Base. Each satellite
Order from AIAA
weighs less than one-half pound and is the tether allowed the U.S. Space Com-
slightly larger than a deck of cards. In a mand’s Space Surveillance Network to use or
project for the Defense Advanced radar to locate and track the picosats. The www.aiaa.org
Research Projects Agency (DARPA), mission, concluded on February 10, 2000,
Aerospace conceived the mission, was the first of a series of missions
designed and built the “picosats,” tested designed to validate MEMS technology.
Rockets and the
Ozone Layer
Martin N. Ross and Paul F. Zittel
Rocket engine exhaust contains chemical compounds that react
with ozone in the stratosphere. A new measurement program
suggests that current space transportation activities only
minimally affect Earth’s protective ozone layer.

rotecting Earth’s ozone layer The Ozone Umbrella
remains an important environ- Ozone, composed of three oxygen atoms,
mental issue. Without this shield- is the result of the action of UV radiation
ing layer, ultraviolet (UV) on oxygen molecules, composed of two
radiation would harm life on Earth. We oxygen atoms. In the upper regions of the
hear alarming statistics on increasing inci- atmosphere, UV light breaks apart oxygen
dences of skin cancer and other disorders molecules into two oxygen atoms, one of
that may be linked to a thinning of Earth’s which then combines with a second oxy-
ozone layer. We know that the presence of gen molecule to form ozone. Born of UV
chlorofluorocarbons (CFC)—chemicals light, ozone is also a powerful absorber of
used as solvents and refrigerants—and UV light, accounting for its protective
other industrial gases in the atmosphere is role. Most of the ozone that protects
the major cause of ozone depletion. But Earth’s surface is concentrated in the
what about exhaust from launch vehicles? atmospheric region called the stratosphere,
Can the cumulative effect of emissions usually taken as the region between about
from rockets launched every three or four 14 and 50 kilometers altitude. The term
days from various launch sites around the “ozone layer” refers to the portion of the
globe significantly alter Earth’s delicately stratosphere between about 15 and 30
balanced, natural sunscreen? kilometers altitude, where the bulk of the
Space transportation, once dominated ozone is concentrated.
by government, has become an important Compared with the mass of all the gas
part of our commercial economy, and the in the stratosphere, the mass of combus-
business of launching payloads into orbit tion emissions from even the largest rocket
is expected to nearly double in the next is miniscule, so it’s easy to conclude that
decade. Each time a rocket is launched, the effect of all rocket launches on the
combustion products are emitted into the ozone layer must be inconsequential. The
stratosphere. CFCs and other chemicals ozone layer, however, is maintained by a
banned by international agreement are delicate balance of the production, trans-
thought to have reduced the total amount port, and destruction of ozone molecules.
of stratospheric ozone by about 4 percent. Relatively small amounts of sufficiently
In comparison, recent predictions about the active chemical compounds can upset this
effect on the ozone layer of solid rocket balance and cause important changes in
motor (SRM) emissions suggest that they the amount and distribution of ozone.
reduce the total amount of stratospheric Rocket engines produce small amounts of
ozone by only about 0.04 percent. such active compounds.
Even though emissions from liquid- Early in the past decade, Aerospace
fueled rocket engines were not included in conducted research for the Air Force
these predictions, it is likely that rockets Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC)
do not constitute a serious threat to global Environmental Management Branch on
Launch of the space shuttle Discovery stratospheric ozone at the present time. how SRM exhaust affects stratospheric
from Cape Canaveral Even so, further research and testing needs ozone. These studies, which raised several
to be done on emissions from rockets of environmental concerns, were limited to
all sizes and fuel system combinations to laboratory and modeling simulations of
more completely understand how space rocket-plume chemistry. By the middle of
transportation activities are affecting the the decade, it had become obvious that a
ozone layer today and to predict how they complete understanding of rocket-exhaust
will affect it in the future.
effects required moving beyond the
theoretical investigations to actual meas-
urements. In 1995, responding to the con-
cerns raised by the earlier studies, SMC
requested that Aerospace establish a prac-
tical, quick-to-implement program to col-
lect actual data from SRM plumes in the
03 X X0 02
stratosphere. The program, named Rocket
Impacts on Stratospheric Ozone (RISO), 30
and led by the Aerospace Environmental Catalytic

Altitude (kilometers)
Systems Directorate, initially focused on reactions
the stratospheric impacts of the heavy-lift
Titan IVA. RISO has subsequently been
20 re
expanded to include responsibility for osphe
investigating the impact of all current U.S. Strat
Air Force launch vehicles. The Air Force Trop
Office of Scientific Research joined with
SMC during the RISO planning phase and 10
supported several investigators on the
RISO team. The initial pioneering RISO
plume measurement campaigns began in
Ozone-Destroying Radicals
Complicated chemical and physical Commercial airlines fly in the upper troposphere at an altitude of about 12 kilometers; the WB-57F aircraft typically
processes, only partially understood by flies at an altitude of 19 kilometers, below the peak in ozone concentration but well enough into the stratosphere
atmospheric scientists, affect both the that the chemical and mixing processes observed during RISO missions are representative of the ozone layer as a
whole. Reactive gases that constitute a small part of the rocket exhaust consume ozone, which deactivates them.
amount and distribution of ozone in the
Represented by X,these are thought to be mainly the chlorine atom,nitric oxide,and the hydroxyl radical,depend-
stratosphere. In general, ozone is formed
ing on the rocket propellant. A variety of chemical processes can reactivate ozone-destroying molecules, so that
in the equatorial stratosphere at altitudes each can destroy many ozone molecules before finally being removed from the stratosphere.
above 30 kilometers. Large-scale winds
continuously transport the ozone to lower tive, indirectly affect ozone levels by sphere. A small percentage of rocket-
altitudes and toward Earth’s poles to form participating in chemical reactions that engine emissions, however, are highly
a layer about 10 kilometers thick, centered determine the concentrations of the ozone- reactive radical compounds that immedi-
at about 22 kilometers altitude. The con- destroying radicals in the global strato- ately attack and deplete ozone in the
centration of ozone is determined by the
rate of ozone transport into the layer ver-
sus the rate of ozone loss by reaction with
ozone-destroying radicals such as the
chlorine atom (Cl), nitric oxide (NO), and
Transient Mesoscale Cumulative
the hydroxyl radical (OH). Because each Plume-Wake Mixing Global Mixing
radical is able to regenerate after destroy- Effects
ing an ozone molecule (called a catalytic 10
11 12 1
June 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 3 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
cycle), radical molecules exert a major 8
7 6 5
7 8 25
2 19
16 17 181 192 203 21 22
4 5 23 306 24 7
3 20
9 26
10 27
4 21
11 28
8 9 10
31 25 26 27 28 29
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
1 18 5 22
12 29
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
6 23 24
13 30
21 22 23 24 25 26 27

influence on ozone even at the small quan- 28 29 30 31

1 – 10 km
tities found in the stratosphere. This means
that small changes in stratospheric compo- Plume
sition caused by industrial activity, includ-
ing rocket exhaust, might cause relatively
large changes in the ozone layer.
The Composition of Rocket Emissions
Both solid and liquid rocket-propulsion Immediate Deactivation of Long-term
ozone loss reactive emissions reactions
systems emit a variety of gases and parti-
cles directly into the stratosphere. A large
percentage of these emissions are inert
chemicals such as carbon dioxide that do
The three main phases of propulsion system emissions. Instruments carried by high-altitude aircraft can only
not directly affect ozone levels. Emissions measure the intense disturbances in the local phase.Stratospheric disturbances during the mesoscale and global
of other gases, such as hydrogen chloride phases are too slight to be observed directly and must be predicted using computer models of atmospheric
and water vapor, though not highly reac- chemistry and dynamics. These models, however, strictly depend upon key data from measurements obtained
during the local phase.
resulting in an immediate and possibly
deep ozone loss in and around SRM plume
0.72 wakes. Such a short-term loss could con-
ceivably influence the intensity of the
0.65 sun’s harmful UV light on the ground near
Distance from plume centerline (meters)

Fraction of chlorine that is reactive

20 0.58 launch sites.
To find an answer, Aerospace researchers
0.51 modified existing computer models of sec-
0.43 ondary combustion in SRM plumes by
incorporating a more complete representa-
0.36 tion of the chemistry of chlorine com-
0.29 pounds. Secondary combustion, also
called “afterburning,” refers to the intense
0.22 chemical processing that takes place in
0.15 rocket plumes after the hot gases have left
–20 the engine nozzle until they cool to the
0.08 temperature of the surrounding atmos-
0.00 phere. These new afterburning models pre-
dicted that a significant amount of HCl in
SRM exhaust would indeed be converted
–40 into chlorine radical in the hot plume.
0 200 400 600 800 1000
Given the inevitable, and important, impli-
Distance downstream (meters)
cation of deep ozone loss, the reactive
Most chlorine emerges from solid-propellant rocket motors as hydrogen chloride (HCl). Some of the HCl is con- chlorine emission index (EI) of SRMs
verted into reactive chlorine atom (Cl) and molecule (Cl2) by downstream chemical processes called “afterburn- needed to be verified.
ing.” Computer models are used to predict how much of the chlorine is in the reactive form as a function of An EI provides a standardized way of
distance away from the motor nozzle. Here, a model predicts that about one-third of the HCl leaving the nozzle expressing how much of a particular
is converted into Cl and Cl2 in the plume of an Athena II rocket as it flies through the ozone layer. exhaust component is emitted into the
atmosphere by a rocket engine. The EI is

plume wake following launch. Aerosol Before the RISO field campaigns, rela-
emissions, such as alumina particles, car- tively little was known with certainty
bon (soot) particles, and water droplets, about the highly reactive components of Titan IVA
Chlorine molecule concentration

April 24, 1996

can also act as reactive compounds when rocket-engine emissions or the intensity of
(1010 per cubic centimeter)

heterogeneous chemical reactions take ozone destruction in the plume wake. In

place on the surface of these particles. 1995, managers and researchers from the
Rocket emissions have two distinct Air Force and the National Aeronautics
effects on ozone: short-term and long- and Space Administration (NASA) met to 25
term. Following launch, rapid chemical review rocket emissions and identify
reactions between plume gases and parti- critical knowledge needs. The meeting
cles and ambient air that has been drawn participants concluded that airborne meas-
into the plume wake cause immediate urements inside actual stratospheric rocket
changes in the composition of the local plumes should be a priority for further
atmosphere. During this phase, which lasts research, and the RISO program was
for several hours, the concentrations of designed with those conclusions in mind. 0
0 15 30
radicals in the plume can be thousands of The Role of Chlorine Radicals Horizontal distance (kilometers)
times greater than the concentrations Researchers have long been aware that
found in the undisturbed stratosphere, and hydrogen chloride (HCl) is a component The theory of reactive chlorine production in SRM
the ozone loss is dramatic (see figure on of SRM exhaust. It had been assumed that plumes was proved during a WB-57F mission
page 10). HCl, which is relatively unreactive, would through the plume wake of a Titan IVA. The
Long-term effects occur as gas and par- contribute to ozone depletion globally
concentration of chlorine molecule (Cl2) was meas-
ticulate emissions from individual launches ured as the aircraft flew through the eight-kilometer-
over the long term by slightly increasing wide plume 40 minutes after launch. Because Cl2 is
become dispersed throughout the global radical chlorine levels in the stratosphere not present in the undisturbed stratosphere, all of the
stratosphere and accumulate over time. but would not alter ozone levels in the measured Cl2 could be attributed to the Titan IVA
The concentrations of emitted compounds plume-wake region immediately after SRMs. The data were obtained by J. Ballenthin and
reach an approximate global steady state launch. Atmospheric scientists began to associates of the Air Force Research Laboratory,
as exhaust from recent launches replaces wonder, however, if unreactive HCl could Hanscom Air Force Base.
exhaust removed from the stratosphere by be converted into highly reactive chlorine
natural atmospheric circulation. radicals in plume combustion processes,
calculated by dividing the total mass of a to match the pressure and temperature of with laser beams to measure the opti-
particular component in the plume (in the surrounding atmosphere. EIs serve as a cal properties of plumes over Cape
grams) by the total mass of propellant convenient way to analyze plume data, Canaveral and provide insight into
burned (in kilograms). For rocket engines, provide input for computer models, and how plume exhaust mixes into the
the EI refers to the exhaust plume com- quickly compare the potential stratospheric stratospheric background air. These
position after the secondary com- impacts of different propulsion systems. two efforts conclusively demon-
bustion process has occurred The true extent of the immediate strated that even though radicals in
and the plume has expanded stratospheric response to the putative reac- rocket exhaust cause immediate loss
tive chlorine emissions was not well of UV-absorbing ozone in individual
understood; the results of various models plumes, rocket plumes disperse in a
were not in agreement. For example, pre- way that makes it highly unlikely that
dictions of the duration of the short-term the intensity of UV light on the
ozone loss in the wake of a Titan IV-class ground near launch sites would
vehicle varied from a few minutes to a few measurably increase following
hours from model to model. Without launches of even the largest rockets.
actual plume data, it was impossible to RISO’s main focus, however, has
evaluate the accuracy of the various mod- been to develop a detailed under-
els, and the resulting uncertainty allowed standing of rocket emission chem-
the possibility that the actual ozone loss istry by directly measuring the
exceeded all predictions. The behavior of composition of stratospheric air
Large mode ozone in SRM plume wakes needed to be inside plume wakes during the criti-
measured, and the plume-wake models cal time from several minutes to sev-
needed to be evaluated. eral hours after launch. RISO chose
A third uncertainty concerned the alu- the NASA WB-57F aircraft to carry
mina particles in SRM exhaust. These tiny instruments into lower-stratospheric
particles (most are less than one-thou- rocket plumes at an altitude of about
sandth of a millimeter in diameter) have 19 kilometers. During a typical mis-
the same chemical makeup as sapphire sion, the WB-57F enters a plume
(Al2O3). Some laboratory measurements about five minutes after launch and
had suggested that heterogeneous chemi- then executes figure-8 maneuvers around
cal reactions on the surface of alumina the launch-vehicle trajectory, encountering
Medium mode
particles might contribute to ozone loss by the plume wake about every 10 minutes
converting chlorine from inactive to active for up to two hours after launch. The air-
forms. The potential importance of this craft travels at about 200 meters per sec-
effect is critically determined by the exact ond and spends between 2 and 60 seconds
sizes of the alumina grains in the exhaust. in the plume during each encounter meas-
Small mode The largest grains fall out of the strato- uring composition.
sphere within several days, and so their Beginning in 1996, a variety of exhaust
surfaces do not have time to promote sig- plumes were sampled by the instrumented
nificant chemistry in the global sense. The WB-57F aircraft, including the space shut-
smallest grains may remain aloft for several tle, Titan IVA, Delta II, Atlas IIAS, and
years, however, possibly promoting Athena II. Three instruments carried dur-
ozone-harmful reactions throughout the ing the 1996 missions proved the scientific
stratosphere. To resolve this question, value of the RISO concept. The instru-
alumina particles in SRM plume wakes ments have steadily improved since the
needed to be collected and the EI of the first missions. Seventeen state-of-the-art
smallest of them measured. instruments carried during the 1999 mis-
In-Situ Plume Experiments sions collected a wide variety of gas and
At its inception, RISO conducted three particulate data that will allow a more
Alumina particles emitted by SRMs come in three
independent data-collection experiments. comprehensive characterization of plume-
distinct sizes, or modes. (A human hair is 20 times the
diameter of the large-mode particle.) Only particles Two of these, both completed in 1998, wake chemistry.
in the small mode remain in the stratosphere long used remote-sensing devices based at Highlights from Early Missions
enough to mix throughout the atmosphere and pos- Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. First, a On April 14, 1996, the WB-57F carried
sibly play a global role in stratospheric chemistry. network of sensors measured the influence into a Titan IVA plume a Neutral Mass
RISO studies of these modes in Titan IVA and space of stratospheric plumes on the intensity of Spectrometer developed by the Air Force
shuttle plumes showed that less than 0.1% of the
harmful solar UV light on the ground near Research Laboratory at Hanscom Air
total mass of SRM alumina particles appears in the
the launch site. Second, a multiple-wave- Force Base. Analysis of data from the
small mode, which is 10 to 100 times smaller than
previous estimates indicated.
length lidar (light detection and ranging) spectrometer unambiguously demonstrat-
system successfully illuminated plumes ed that the plume contained significant

Exhaust plume of a Titan IVA launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, as The WB-57F high-altitude aircraft, operated by NASA’s Johnson Space Center, carries large sci-
seen from the WB-57F cockpit just before flying thorough the plume. Only entific payloads well into the stratosphere. The WB-57F has served the RISO program since
two minutes old in this view, the plume displays a pattern of breakup from 1996, flying though 11 rocket-exhaust plumes.The two-person aircrew includes a dedicated
windshear and mixing characteristic of all stratospheric plumes. The Cali- science officer who monitors instrument status and initiates plume data collections.
fornia coast and San Miguel Island are visible.

amounts of reactive chlorine molecule, a eased concerns that the short-term ozone measurement of the actual radical EIs for
gas not found in the natural stratosphere. loss in rocket plumes might be much the various systems, and the development
The RISO team concluded that the esti- greater than in the model predictions. of detailed models of plume-wake chem-
mated chlorine molecule EI of the Titan Surprisingly, data obtained from within istry, are needed to solve this puzzle.
IVA SRMs was generally consistent with the plumes of several different rockets Interagency ACCENT Program
predictions based on the Aerospace com- show that launch vehicles with greatly dif- Thiokol Propulsion, the company that
puter models of chlorine afterburning fering SRM emission rates cause about the manufactures the SRMs used on the space
chemistry. same amount of ozone loss between 30 shuttle and Atlas IIAS, and Alliant Tech-
RISO WB-57F missions have carried and 60 minutes after launch. Ozone loss in systems, the company that produces the
up to four instruments to observe the the plumes of Delta II and Atlas IIAS Delta II SRM, joined RISO in 1998 as
extent and duration of immediate ozone rockets was about the same as the loss in contributing partners. In 1999, RISO
loss in the plume wake. Data from each the plumes of the much larger Titan IVA joined forces with NASA, the National
plume encounter allow investigators to and space shuttle. Existing plume-wake Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
quantify how much ozone is destroyed in models that include only SRM chlorine and the National Center for Atmospheric
the plume over time. Measurements from gas emissions have not predicted this Research as part of the Atmospheric
Titan IVA and space shuttle plumes show result; why this discrepancy exists is not Chemistry of Combustion Emissions Near
that the amount of ozone destruction does yet known. It may be that SRM emissions the Tropopause (ACCENT) mission, a
not increase without limit. RISO interact with the stratosphere in a fashion multiagency-sponsored effort to study the
researchers have shown that ozone loss not yet accounted for in plume models, or effects of aircraft and rocket-engine
slows about one hour after launch, sug- perhaps the liquid-oxygen/kerosene core exhaust on the upper troposphere and lower
gesting that the most ozone-destructive engines of the Atlas IIAS and Delta II pro- stratosphere.
emissions have been deactivated by reac- duce reactive gases that act alone or with ACCENT brings together RISO and
tions with various gases in the surround- SRM emissions to cause some additional ongoing efforts of the NASA Atmospheric
ing air. This important observation has ozone loss. Further data collection and Effects of Aviation Program (AEAP). The
Ozone concentration (1010 per cubic centimeter) 300






0 12 24 0 12 24 0 12 24 0 12 24
Plume wake (kilometers)

Ozone concentration measured across the plume wakes of four different launch SRMs at the altitude of these measurements are about 2, 0.2, 4, and 0.3 tons per kilo-
vehicles, all obtained about one hour after the different launches. Red represents meter of altitude. Despite such large differences in chlorine emission rates among
data obtained while the WB-57F aircraft was inside the exhaust plume. The total the four rocket types,the ozone losses in the plumes are comparable.The data were
amounts of chlorine emitted by the Titan IVA, Atlas IIAS, space shuttle, and Delta II obtained by J. Benbrook and W. Sheldon of the University of Houston.

ACCENT partnership grew out of the real- influence that rocket emissions have on Further Reading
ization that a common set of atmospheric Earth’s ozone layer. The advances coming B. B. Brady, L. R. Martin, and V. I. Lang.
measurements from shared payloads on out of RISO are making the Air Force and “Effects of Launch Vehicle Emissions in the
the WB-57F aircraft could serve the inter- the entire space-launch community confi- Stratosphere,” Journal of Spacecraft and Rock-
ests of both the Air Force and NASA pro- dent that ozone loss from both individual ets, Vol. 34, 774–779 (1997).
grams. The ACCENT payload included as and collective launches does not constitute C. H. Jackman, D. B. Considine, and E. L.
many as 17 instruments, significantly a significant environmental hazard. RISO Fleming, “A Global Modeling Study of Solid
enhancing the RISO/ACCENT science has proved that a low-cost program of Rocket Aluminum Oxide Emission Effects on
team’s ability to understand plume-wake ongoing plume-wake intercepts using Stratospheric Ozone,” Geophysical Research
chemistry and characterize rocket-engine appropriate instrumentation can help Letters, Vol. 25, 907–910 (1998).
emissions. Three successful plume-wake resolve the scientific problems surround- M. N. Ross, et al., “Study Blazing New Trails
flights took place during the 1999 ing the issue. RISO has also shown how Into the Effects of Aviation and Rocket Exhaust
ACCENT deployments. The data collected joining forces with other agencies and in the Atmosphere,” Transactions of the Ameri-
will allow several important unresolved industry increases the scientific return on can Geophysical Union, Vol. 80, 442–444 (1999).
problems to be addressed, including esti- investment for all interested parties. M. N. Ross, et al., “In-Situ Measurement of Cl2
mating the nitric oxide radical EI of SRMs The data and conclusions from the and O3 in a Stratospheric Solid Rocket Motor
and the soot EI of liquid-oxygen/kerosene RISO program reinforce a presumption Exhaust Plume,” Geophysical Research Let-
engines and measuring the intensity of that rocket emissions do not seriously ters, Vol. 24, 1755–1758 (1997).
chemical reactions that take place on the threaten the ozone layer at the present M. N. Ross, J. R. Benbrook, W. R. Sheldon,
surface of alumina particles in the plume. time. However, as the space transportation P. F. Zittel, and D. L. McKenzie, “Observation
industry grows, as new launch systems are of Stratospheric Ozone Depletion in Rocket
Looking Ahead Plumes,” Nature, Vol. 390, 62–65 (1997).
RISO represents but one component of introduced, and as the ozone layer recov-
ers from past damage caused by now- M. N. Ross, P. D. Whitefield, D. Hagen, and
ongoing Aerospace activities to provide A. R. Hopkins, “In-Situ Measurement of the
the Air Force with cutting-edge research banned substances, the effect of rocket
Aerosol Size Distribution in Stratospheric
and technical guidance on a wide range of emissions on stratospheric ozone is likely
Solid Rocket Motor Exhaust Plumes,” Geo-
environmental issues—from solvent to become a more visible issue. The space
physical Research Letters, Vol. 26, 819–822
chemistry to toxic ground clouds and transportation community should continue (1999).
ozone depletion. For its part, the RISO to support scientific research efforts to
WMO, “World Meteorological Organization
team allows SMC to claim world-class fully understand the impact of rocket-
Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion,”
scientific expertise with regard to the propulsion systems on the composition of Report No. 25, Chap. 10, World Meteorologi-
Earth’s natural umbrella, the ozone layer. cal Organization, Geneva, Switzerland (1991).
John Wessel and Robert W. Farley

In this NASA shuttle photo of a sunset over South

America, a pink layer, attributed to sulfuric acid
droplets and ammonium sulfate particles, begins
at the tropopause and extends upward into the
stratosphere to 19 kilometers.


Water-Vapor Lidar Helium balloon

Extends to the
Tropopause John Wessel and Robert W. Farley

Lidar’s role in obtaining accurate measurements of water vapor in

Humidity Temperature
the upper troposphere is becoming increasingly important as the transducer transducer
issue of global warming heats up.

he question of whether Earth is “greenhouse gases” (so called because Ground
dangerously heating up has these atmospheric constituents produce a plane
become a subject of debate in “greenhouse effect” over Earth) contribute antenna Ground
to this warming. Water is the most influen- plane
our time. But is global warming antenna
fact or fiction? One thing is certain: The tial component of the greenhouse gas
surface temperature of Earth has increased mixture: Water vapor absorbs infrared
Wire (flex)
0.45 to 0.6 degrees Kelvin in the past cen- radiation emitted from Earth’s surface and antenna
tury. A recent study supported by The lower atmosphere more than any other
National Science Foundation predicts our constituent, thereby trapping heat best.
planet will warm by 2 degrees Kelvin in Accurate knowledge of the amount of
the 21st century. Recent research conducted atmospheric water must be obtained to
by The Aerospace Corporation to validate improve and test global-warming models. A radiosonde is an instrument package carried by a
Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Aerospace recently made significant balloon that ascends to altitudes of 20 to 30 kilome-
advances in the ability to measure the dis- ters. It measures temperature, humidity, and pressure
(DMSP) measurements could shed some
in the atmosphere and broadcasts the information
light on global warming issues. tribution of water vapor in the upper tropo-
back to a ground station. The Global Positioning Sys-
Global warming takes place when heat sphere (upper portion of the lower
tem is used to record the trajectory during ascent to
becomes increasingly trapped in Earth’s atmosphere). Using a ground-based lidar determine wind speed and direction.
atmosphere. It is now widely believed that (light detection and ranging) system,
measure humidity, temperature, and air both global-climate and weather-forecast
pressure. First, radiosondes do not operate modeling. One way to determine the causes
correctly at the low temperatures typically (and the only way to predict the future
encountered above an altitude of 8 kilome- extent) of global warming is to have accu-
ters. Second, they are one-shot attempts at rate models, which presupposes having
measuring atmospheric conditions, and accurate knowledge of the initial atmos-
they take one hour to reach their zenith. pheric conditions.
The lidar system measures water vapor Global-climate-change studies rely
continuously over the entire altitude range. heavily on computer-generated models
This is important because the lidar can that predict the future state of the atmos-
capture data from a satellite as the satellite phere based on initial data retrieved from
moves overhead, and satellites are only in ground- and satellite-based weather meas-
view for five minutes. During this brief urements. Although these models are
time, the “ground footprint” of the satel- largely based on thoroughly tested princi-
lite must be in line with the lidar. The lidar ples of physics, a number of simplifica-






ol a
ic al Satellit
e Progr

The most reliable calibration occurs when the lidar Setting up the Aerospace mobile lidar are Steven Beck,Yat Chan, and Jerry Gelbwachs. It was first used for satel-
measures moisture in the satellite “ground footprint” lite calibration at Kauai, Hawaii.The container was equipped with wheels and towed to the final site.The structure
area as the satellite passes overhead. A lidar set up on the left front of the container is the elevator that raises the beam director periscope (located on top of the
over water works best during calibration of satellite container).The beam director is stored below the roof line so the container can fit inside an aircraft.
data because the water’s surface emits less interfer-
ing microwave energy than land. For this reason, set- then calibrates the data derived from the tions are used to improve calculation
ting up the lidar on a small island or on a shipboard satellite. Essentially, it verifies whether or speed and bypass scientific problem areas.
platform is ideal. not a satellite is measuring water vapor In addition, adequate computer power is
properly. (See sidebar “How Lidar Works,” not yet available to process the volume of
which operates much like radar, the pages 14 and 15) data required for accurate prediction. The
researchers discovered significantly more Finally, water-vapor data can now be result is that computer-generated weather-
water content in the upper reaches of the derived from multiple satellites that meas- forecast and global-climate-change mod-
troposphere than was previously thought ure water vapor all over the world. Before els yield oversimplified results. As more
to exist. This capability was developed to the advent of satellites, data were derived computer power becomes available, more
improve calibration of U.S. Air Force from radiosondes routinely launched over complete data on initial conditions can be
meteorological satellites. land by national weather services. processed, resulting in improved models.
Lidar vs. Weather Balloons Improving Computer Models Microwave Sounders vs. Radiosondes
The combined use of lidar and satellites Combining accurate ground-based lidar DMSP recognized in 1979 the need for
provides many advantages over conven- measurements with high-quality imagery accurate data to feed numerical (computer)
tional balloon-borne radiosondes, which obtained by satellites promises to improve global-weather-prediction models and pio-
neered a microwave-sounding instrument, because water provides the principal lidar is useful in measuring the con-
the SSM/T-1 (Special Sensor Microwave/ means of energy transport in the tropo- stituents of the atmosphere.
Temperature), to measure temperature in sphere and plays a critical role in global Raman lidar was initially developed at
the atmosphere. Until then, radiosondes warming. Additionally, water vapor NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
alone were relied upon to gather data about induces cloud formation and violent Aerospace confirmed its feasibility for use
atmospheric temperatures. weather events, determines atmospheric in DMSP applications in experiments per-
Microwave sounders are passive visibility, causes icing, and influences air- formed during 1993 at the Air Force Mal-
devices, radio receivers that listen for craft contrail formation. abar facility. Plans were then made to
emissions at various frequencies. Water In processing water-vapor data derived develop a mobile lidar system capable of
vapor emits microwaves, the intensity of from SSM/T-2 measurements, serious calibrating satellites from a variety of
which is used to estimate water content in discrepancies were observed between remote locations, and Aerospace designed
the atmosphere, particularly over oceans, microwave and radiosonde water-vapor and constructed the system in-house. This
where conventional methods of obtaining data. The problem was traced to radio- mobile lidar is housed in a surplus Air
measurements are in short supply. sonde humidity transducers. Errors show Force transportable radar container.
(Radiosondes, which provide a more up in the water-vapor data derived from Experimentation on Kauai
The new Raman lidar system was first put
to use during the calibration and validation
of the DMSP F-14 satellite. A sea-level
island location with an airport and con-
trolled air space, clear dark sky, and, of
course, a moist atmosphere were required
for the demonstration. The Navy’s Pacific
Missile Range Facility on the Hawaiian
island of Kauai was chosen. The Hawaii Air
National Guard provided transportation.
Calibration was highly successful and
showed significant improvement over
radiosonde calibration. During a two-week
period, 10 lidar measurements were taken
that closely matched measurements
gathered by the SSM/T-2. However, the
radiosonde measurements suggested
considerable instrument error. Aerospace
concluded that radiosonde water-vapor
measurements taken above 8 kilometers
altitude are incorrect most of the time
because the water-vapor transducers car-
ried by radiosondes become unresponsive
R. L. Jones, Sandia National Laboratories at the low temperatures encountered at high
The U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility on the island of Kauai. Because a minimum of land in view is desired altitudes.
when a satellite aligns with the lidar, an island setting was ideal for The Aerospace Corporation’s test of its new High-Altitude Water Vapor
Raman lidar system. In addition, Kauai provided the necessary moist environment for the experiment.
High-altitude water-vapor measurement is
a key element in modeling global warm-
direct means of measuring atmospheric satellites because satellites are calibrated ing because water has a much greater
properties, are in widespread use over against radiosondes. influence on Earth’s tropospheric energy
land.) balance than trace gases such as carbon
Water-Vapor Lidar
In 1991, DMSP launched the SSM/T-2, dioxide. However, water vapor is not accu-
Raman lidar is a specialized type of lidar rately monitored, and little is known about
which measures water vapor. SSM/T-1 and named after Sir Chandrasekhara Raman,
SSM/T-2 now serve as eyes on worldwide its influence on global climatic change.
who won the Nobel Prize for physics in Aerospace learned from the Kauai experi-
weather, providing the data needed to ini- 1930 for his discovery of the shifts in the
tialize the computer models. Although the ment that the lidar’s high-altitude accuracy
wavelength of light that occur when a light needed to be improved to accurately vali-
SSM/T-1 temperature sounder has a long beam interacts with molecular vibrations
history of success, the SSM/T-2 is newer date SSM/T-2 for upper-tropospheric
and rotations. Whereas lidar typically water-vapor measurement. A new high-
and has had limited development. measures light that remains at one
Because water vapor is highly variable altitude detector system was incorporated
frequency, Raman lidar can measure into the lidar, which allowed measure-
in the atmosphere, measurements of it are wavelength-shifted light. Because each
generally neglected in computer-generated ments above 10 kilometers. When this new
constituent of the atmosphere correlates to system was used at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific
forecast models. This is unfortunate a characteristic wavelength shift, Raman

Radiosonde Lidar

Altitude (kilometers)

0 20 40 60 80 100
Relative humidity (percent)

Steven Beck, Jerry Gelbwachs, and John Wessel preparing to launch a radiosonde near the Aerospace trans- Relative humidity measured at San Nicolas Island Oct.
portable lidar system at Kauai. The radiosonde, contained in a white plastic-foam package, is suspended below 7, 1998. Lidar measurements are appreciably higher
the balloon. than corresponding radiosonde measurements.
Missile Range Facility at San Nicolas The picture of upper-tropospheric water The lidar measurements indicated that, on
Island, off the coast of California, SSM/T- vapor observed from San Nicolas Island average, four times more water vapor than
2 upper-atmosphere water-vapor measure- was much different than expected based expected lies in thin layers near the
ments were validated. on prior NASA satellite measurements. tropopause (top of the troposphere).

Lidar has proved to be an improvement over ground-based

How Lidar Works
methods of measuring water vapor in the atmosphere.

Atmospheric A lidar consists of a laser transmitter, a

scattering receiver telescope, photodetectors,
and range-resolving detection elec-
tronics (not shown). The Raman lidar
shifts the laser frequency from the
infrared range into the ultraviolet
range using harmonic generator crys-
tals. The ultraviolet is expanded in a
Laser transmitter collimator telescope to make the out-
put eye-safe and to improve the diver-
Photo- gence of the beam.
Laser Frequency detectors The operating principles of lidar are
shifters Collimator
(expands) similar to those of radar. The laser
transmits a short pulse of light in a
specific direction. The light interacts
Spectrum with molecules in the air, and the mol-
ecules send a small fraction of the
Telescope primary mirror Shutter light back to the receiver telescope.
A second set of data acquired in 1999 Wind speed (meters per second)
from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 0 10 20 30 40
Smithsonian Table Mountain Observatory 20
Wind Wind 18 Aerospace, Lidar
site, located at 2,300 meters in elevation at speed direction
Wrightwood, California, confirms this fig- NASA, Sage II
ure. The high location provided very clear Mastenbrook, frost
point hygrometer

Altitude (kilometers)
skies and reduced the range to the

Altitude (kilometers)
tropopause, thereby improving measure- 16 16 Oltmans,
Mastenbrook, frost
ments. Data from the two sites were simi- Mixing point hygrometer
lar, confirming that the data represent Kley, frost point
14 hygrometer
weather in the vicinity of the local
tropopause. 14
If the results of these experiments are 12
broadly descriptive of the midlatitude
atmosphere, they may add to our under-
standing of global warming. Before now, 10
few high-altitude measurements had been
taken at those latitudes using precise 8
methods. 0 20
40 60 80 0 50 100
Mixing ratio Mixing ratio
Atmospheric Circulation and (parts per million/volume) (parts per million/volume)
Hadley Cells
The combination of lidar data, wind data, (Left) Mixing ratio of water vapor to air, measured by lidar on September 25, 1998.Wind direction in degrees from
and SSM/T-2 upper-atmosphere water- north is 10 times the value shown on the wind speed scale. (Right) Average mixing ratios observed by Aerospace
vapor imagery provided information that lidar at San Nicolas and the Table Mountain Observatory June–October. NASA Sage II instrument midlatitude
supports the current scientific understand- measurements were lower than Aerospace averages, Oltmans-Mastenbrook measurements above Colorado
were much lower, and Mastenbrook’s, in summer over Washington, D.C., and Trinidad, V.I., were closest to Aero-
ing of general atmospheric circulation.
space measurements. Most high-quality ground-based measurements for the upper tropopause were made in
Global atmospheric circulation is caused
equatorial regions; the Kley points are typical of these. (The mixing ratio is the ratio of water-vapor pressure to air
by the uneven heating of Earth’s surface. pressure in the atmosphere.)
Lower latitudes receive more radiation

The returning light signal is measured

by photodetectors. The amount of time
it takes the light to return to the receiver Laser
telescope indicates altitude, the wave-
length shift of the light identifies the
type of air molecules that scattered the
light,and the intensity of the light repre-
sents the concentration of molecules. eive
In Raman lidar (the Raman process),
light interacts with vibrating and rotat-
ing molecules, and this causes the shift Lidar Atmospheric Profile Raman Spectrum
in wavelength shown in the Raman Vibrational Raman
spectrum. Aerospace used separate
optical filters to isolate the wavelength Laser
signals emitted by the water vapor and wavelength

nitrogen molecules.The ratio of the sig-

H2O signal


nals is proportional to the mixing ratio H2O

of water vapor to air.

0 Time Wavelength
from the sun than do higher ones. To
June 30, 1998 understand atmospheric circulation, vari-
275 ous models have been developed.
One such model is the Hadley circula-
tion model. The sun shines approximately
overhead at the equator. This heats surface
regions, causing air to rise and cool. The
cool air loses moisture in the process.
Once cool, it moves north and south,
Brightness temperature (kelvin)

descending toward midlatitudes and then

returns at low levels back to the equator
where it gets reheated.
SSM/T-2 routinely identifies large mid-
latitude regions, including locations such
as San Nicolas Island, that have very dry
upper air. Dry regions are surrounded by
moist high-altitude regions. The dry air
presumably came from very high altitudes
San Nicolas Island
near the equator and subsided to a lower
altitude upon reaching midlatitudes. The
lidar and radiosonde data can be used to
estimate how long ago this subsidence
occurred. Thin moist layers are usually
235 observed by lidar in regions that character-
istically have dry air.
In the case of San Nicolas Island, we
October 7, 1998 hypothesized that wind shear carries mois-
275 ture from moist regions into neighboring
dry areas. When we combined the wind-
shear velocities with the distance between
the lidar location and the surrounding moist
region, we estimated that the air subsided
within 2 to 20 hours of our measurements.
The overall picture of dry high-altitude
Brightness temperature (kelvin)

equatorial air moving north and subsiding

at our midlatitude is consistent with the
Hadley circulation model, which predicts
that equatorial air moves toward the poles.
Applying Our Knowledge
Future research will extend water-vapor
measurements over regions representative
of the global atmosphere, and the capabil-
San Nicolas Island ity of measuring temperature will be added
to the lidar. The new DMSP Special Sensor
Microwave Imager Sounder (SSMIS)
instrument will measure temperatures up to
80 kilometers altitude, which will require
a new validation method. This instrument
235 is being developed by Aerojet-Gencorp
and is scheduled for launch in November
2000. It combines the features of the cur-
rent-generation SSM/T-1, SSM/T-2, and
Brightness-temperature mappings recorded in the SSM/T-2 upper tropospheric channel for satellite overpasses, SSM/I (SSM/Imager) instruments with
made during San Nicolas Island lidar measurements. Blue corresponds to low-brightness temperature, which increased horizontal resolution and the
indicates the presence of moisture and signifies that emissions are primarily from the cold upper troposphere. capability of measuring temperatures at
Red corresponds to high-brightness temperature. High-brightness temperatures occur when microwave emis- high altitudes.
sions originate from low altitudes, which are normally warmer, and the middle and upper troposphere are dry.
Some researchers use Rayleigh lidar to
Otherwise, the microwave emissions would be absorbed by high-altitude water vapor. In these images, San Nico-
measure temperature up to 80 kilometers
las Island, indicated by a small white triangle, lies near the boundary between moist and dry upper layers.
altitude. We currently measure temperature
The Hadley Circulation Model
In 1735, George Hadley, a British physi-
cist (1685–1768), formulated a model to
Cold and dry
explain the general pattern of global
Tropopause atmospheric circulation. The Hadley
model describes, in the simplest form, a
large-scale circulation in Earth’s atmos-
phere, with a rising motion of air over
the equatorial regions and a descend-
ing motion northward and southward
toward the midlatitudes.
Massive convection in the equatorial
Pacific lofts air from the surface to alti-
tudes above the tropopause. The tropo-
Moist pause is coldest in equatorial regions,
layer and water precipitates in the form of rain
and ice from the convected air masses.
Ice, rain This injects very dry air into the region of
Moist the tropopause and above.The air moves
generally toward the poles and descends
Very warm in the process, accounting for our obser-
massive vations of exceedingly dry air layers at
convection midlatitudes. Frequently, moist layers
occur above the dry regions. Wind shear
Equatorial Pacific Midlatitude
causes this by transporting thin layers
from nearby moist regions.

to an altitude of 40 kilometers using both In general, lidar is an excellent method ing understanding of the atmosphere,
Rayleigh and rotational Raman lidar, and for calibrating satellite microwave sen- which may one day in the near future lead
expect to reach 80 kilometers in 2001. Lidar sors. It accurately depicts the atmosphere us to solving the puzzle of why Earth is
will then provide the data needed to validate those sensors view. Enhancing lidar’s getting hotter.
all SSMIS atmospheric measurements. capabilities will contribute to our increas- Further Reading
M. A. Janssen, Atmospheric Remote Sensing by
Microwave Radiometry (Wiley-Interscience,
New York, 1993).
T. R. Karl and K. E. Trenberth, “The Human
Impact on Climate,” Scientific American,
December 1999, pp. 100–105.
R. M. Measures, Laser Remote Sensing
(Wiley-Interscience, New York, 1984).
S. H. Melfi and D. N. Whiteman, “Observation
of Lower Atmospheric Moisture Structure and
Its Evolution Using a Raman Lidar,” Bulletin
of the American Meteorological Society, Vol.
66, 1282–1292 (1985).
D. Rind, “Just Add Water Vapor,” Science, Vol.
281, 1152–1153 (1998).
F. W. Taylor, “The Greenhouse Effect and Cli-
mate Change,” Reports on Progress in Physics,
Vol. 54, 881–918 (1991).
J. Wessel, S. M. Beck, Y. C. Chan, R. W. Farley,
and J. A. Gelbwachs, “Raman Lidar Calibra-
tion for the DMSP SSM/T-2 Microwave Water
Vapor Sensor,” IEEE Transactions on Geo-
Naval Air Warfare Center sciences and Remote Sensing, Vol. 38, 141–154
The U. S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility, San Nicolas Island, off the California coast, where Aerospace used lidar (2000).
with a new high-altitude shutter system to validate SSM/T-2 upper-atmosphere water-vapor measurements.
arly in the morning on a day in
August 1972, all satellites in the
constellation that would alert the
United States of a missile attack
suddenly lost their warning capability. The
detectors and circuitry, according to the
status data, had been hit by a strong source
of ionizing radiation. This appeared to be
an ominous event to operators at the
ground stations, where the initial interpre-
tation was that the Russians had detonated
a nuclear warhead in space, possibly as a
precursor to a ballistic missile attack.
Prompt analysis of the sensor outputs by
an Aerospace expert in nuclear and space
physics on duty at one of the sites provided
the actual cause: The satellites had been hit
with a massive proton flux from an extraor-
dinarily intense solar flare. An unwise reac-
tion by the government was averted. The
Aerospace Corporation subsequently
worked with the U.S. Air Force and the
system contractor to provide fixes to assure
uninterrupted operation through such
events. Aerospace has often provided
invaluable assistance to the Air Force, play-
ing a key role in the development, opera-
tion, and success of this national asset—the
Defense Support Program (DSP).
Deployed 40,000 kilometers above
Earth in the equatorial plane, a constella-
tion of satellites equipped with infrared
sensors (“IR eyes”) looks for ballistic mis-
siles aimed at the United States or its
allies. The period of their orbits is 24
hours, so the satellites remain at constant
longitudes, that is, in geostationary orbits,
guarding against an attack on the United
States or its allies from anywhere in the
world. The system has been in operation
continuously since it went on line in 1971.
Fortunately, the United States has never
experienced a missile attack; of course, the

Launch of the Program 461 satellite by an Atlas Agena

from Vandenberg Air Force Base on August 19, 1966,
into a 3700-kilometer circular orbit.
IR Eyes High in the Sky

The Defense Support Program

Fred Simmons and Jim Creswell
Crosslink commemorates the 40th anniversary of The Aerospace Corporation by introducing
a series on the history of the corporation’s role in national space programs.

extent to which DSP has served as a deter- cations of course are peripheral to the prin- its Project Defender, the Advanced
rent to such an attack cannot be known. cipal mission of DSP. Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the
In addition to performing their primary Early Development Department of Defense in the late 1950s
mission, DSP sensors have produced a The U.S. national early warning program explored concepts for early warning based
wealth of information on a variety of had its beginnings in the early 1960s, on the detection of the infrared emission
sources, military and otherwise, that has when it became evident that the United from rocket exhaust plumes by sensors
served many other purposes. Certain civil- States was vulnerable to attack by the stationed in space. The ARPA program
ian uses of these surveillance satellites are intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) consisted mainly of system studies and
described in the premier issue (January then under development in the Soviet various measurement programs to charac-
2000) of Crosslink. Those particular appli- Union. By the mid-sixties, ICBMs terize the infrared properties of ballistic
missiles and the backgrounds against
which they would have to be observed.
Concurrent with much of that work, the
High altitude Air Force, aided by Aerospace, began
(above 30 kilometers) development of its own Missile Defense
Alarm System (MIDAS). That system, had
Sensor line of sight
Low altitude it been implemented, would have employed
(20–30 kilometers) a constellation of many satellites in low
Earth orbits.
A space experiment designated as Pro-
gram 461, the final element of the MIDAS
program, provided the proof of principle
to support the development of a system
with far greater capabilities. Although the
exhaust plume from a rocket emits a great
Sources of confusion for a space-based surveillance system. From low altitudes (0 to 10 kilometers), cultural deal of infrared radiation, so do many
sources include industrial sites (such as heat exchangers, flare gas burners, smelters, and coke ovens), petroleum other sources that might appear in the
and pipeline fires, explosions and dumps, and slash-and-burn regions; geophysical sources include forest fires, background. To discriminate the rocket
volcanoes, and solar scatter from cloud edges, coastlines, water surfaces, high deserts, and snow-covered heights. from the background sources, the sensors
From high altitudes (above 30 kilometers), cultural sources include target-related clouds and tracks, objects in low must operate in specific regions of the
Earth orbits, and vehicle reentries; natural sources include meteors and bolides, volcanic clouds, air glow, and spectrum. In their characteristic molecular
aurora, as well as the sun, moon, planets, and stars. bands between two and three microns,
appeared in test flights, and the United water vapor and carbon dioxide in the
108 atmosphere greatly suppress emissions
Missile at States adopted the MAD (mutual assured
107 20 kilometers from fires and other hot terrestrial sources
destruction) strategy as its national
106 defense posture. and solar reflections from the ground and

105 Early warning became critical to the low clouds.

Because water vapor and carbon diox-
104 Terrain
survival of U.S. retaliatory forces, and
launch detection by space-based sensors ide are the principal products of rocket-
Cloud at was essential. Aerospace was called upon propellant combustion, the hot exhaust
102 10 kilometers plume from the missile appears as a very
at the start to perform trade studies and
10 bright source moving against the back-
2.2 2.6 3.0 3.4 3.8 4.2 4.6 5.0 prepare technical specifications for an
operational system. It provided the general ground in those same spectral bands. Con-
system engineering and technical direction sequently, as a missile rises through the
The blue and green curves show the spectra of typi-
for the development of the program. atmosphere and absorption diminishes, the
cal terrain and a solar-illuminated cloud at 10 kilome- apparent intensity of the plume rapidly
The ballistic missile defense studies as a
ters altitude; the red curve shows a hypothetical increases. Accordingly, the sensors are
missile at 20 kilometers altitude.
whole had been initiated earlier. As part of
Sensor Design launched ballistic missile (SLBM), the
In the design of a sensor for missile detec- smallest missile of a direct threat to the
tion, a basic engineering decision involves continental United States.
a choice between two approaches. A sen- During 1966 and 1967, Program 461
sor can be designed to have relatively few collected data on many of the ballistic mis-
detectors that scan the field of view, or it siles and space launch vehicles in the
can be designed to have a very large num- Soviet and U.S. arsenals, totaling dozens
ber of detectors staring at the scene to of test launches. In the course of those
detect targets by their motion through the observations, Program 461 sensors pro-
field of view. The technology of the 1960s duced a substantial database on the clutter
enabled only the former approach, which created by the scanning of the Earth-cloud
was incorporated in Program 461 and sub- backgrounds, information also needed for
sequently, DSP. In either case, a basic the optimization of the DSP sensors, the
design tradeoff is the optimization of the development of which was commencing at
spectral filter: The wider the bandpass, the that time. Thus were provided the proof of
USAF more target intensity is collected, but also principle for space-based surveillance and
The RTS-1 payload for Program 461 was built by Lock- the greater the amount of highly variable a valuable database for the design of the
heed Missiles and Space Company (now Lockheed background. The early target and back- sensors in the national early warning sys-
Martin) for the Air Force Space Systems Division. The ground measurement programs provided tem to follow.
sensor, built by the Aerojet-General Corporation,
sufficient information, mostly with air- DSP Sensors
included an 8-inch aperture concentric telescope and
borne instruments, for the design of the In the late-1960s, the design of the sensors
a focal plane containing a linear array of 442 lead-sul-
fide detectors.A spectral filter defined a narrow band-
Program 461 sensors; the results of that for the DSP system to some extent fol-
pass within the band of water-vapor absorption in the program provided the basis for further lowed the concept for MIDAS. A linear
atmosphere.The sensor was mounted on a spin table optimization of the sensors in the DSP sys- array of passively cooled infrared detec-
to rotate at 6 rpm, providing a scan of Earth every 10 tem that followed. tors, with spectral filters providing a band-
seconds. A pair of star sensors provided information Program 461 satellites, built by Lock- pass in the center of an atmospheric
for attitude determination.Three such payloads were heed Missiles and Space Company, absorption band, was positioned in the
launched in 1966; two were successful. Each sensor observed many launches of missiles and focal plane of a telescope mounted in a
collected data for about a year. space launch vehicles from Cape Canaveral satellite rotating at six revolutions per
and Vandenberg Air Force Base, as well as
from different sites in the Soviet Union.
After processing the signals received at the Apparent radiant intensity Oct 23, 1966
Mar 31, 1967
ground stations, the target intensities were May 31, 1967
reported as radiant intensities in the system
bandpass as functions of time for the partic-
ular viewing aspect and other parameters of
the observation. Extraction of such signa-
tures from the raw data was a formidable
angle task in view of the relatively coarse point-
ing system of these satellites by today’s 0 100 200 300
Zenith Time (seconds)
standards; Aerospace provided much of the
analysis for that purpose. Program 461 observation. This plot, illustrative of the
Such data were obtained from observa- product, shows the characteristic intensity profile of a
Target two-stage missile. The initial increase in intensity
tions of three SS-9 missiles in test flights
from the Tyuratam facility near the Aral occurs as the missile rises and the atmospheric
Local absorption decreases. After the maximum, the “after-
vertical Sea to the Kamchatka peninsula in the Sea
Ground burning” of hydrogen and carbon monoxide in the
track of Japan. At the time, this liquid-propel-
exhaust diminishes as the vehicle and exhaust veloc-
lant ICBM was the largest missile in the ities become comparable and the density of oxygen
The Program 461 satellite was designed to operate
USSR inventory and the principal threat to in the air decreases. After a minimum, the reported
in a spinning mode to scan Earth below from a low
the United States. Among other observa- intensity again increases as the missile velocity
circular polar orbit (~3226 kilometers) with a period
of 10 seconds.
tions in the Eastern hemisphere, a exceeds the exhaust velocity, until the image of the
particular sighting of significance was that plume exceeds the detector field of view.
of a single-stage missile launched in a test
designed with detectors filtered to accept flight from Kapustin Yar on February 3,
radiation only in those molecular bands. minute. The idea of a constellation of
1967. The relatively short burn of that mis- many satellites in a low Earth orbit was
Furthermore, this spectral region favors sile afforded observations in only three
the use of lead-sulfide detectors, which abandoned in favor of a few satellites in
scans between cloud break and thrust ter- geostationary orbits positioned at longi-
offer the advantage of high sensitivity with mination. That missile was later identified
passive cooling. tudes affording views of the launch sites of
as an SSN-6 medium-range submarine- concern. Accordingly, a sensor with a

DSP Flight 1 satellite prior to shipment to Cape Canaveral (1970). Note the offset of the telescope
from the vehicle axis. The two small telescopes pointing normal to the axis of rotation are the star
sensors that provide the data necessary to determine the precise pointing of the primary telescope.
The main body of the satellite contains a reaction wheel to control the spinning rate, propulsion
units for station keeping, and electronic components for data processing and transmittal. Solar cells
covering the body and four paddles provide power. The radiator, used for passive cooling of the Launch of DSP Flight 1 from Cape Canaveral in November 1970.
detectors, is located near the base of the telescope.

and later 647. The system became DSP stage. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite reach a
when it achieved full functional capability. geosynchronous orbit, and the subpoint
DSP sensors incorporated many fea- circled Earth every five days. The orbit was
Azimuth tures representative of an advanced tech- high enough, however, to allow checkout
Elevation nology for that time. The design included of the ground data-processing sites and the
Projection of
a larger array of detectors (2000 initially, mission software and to provide nominal
detector array 6000 eventually), spectral filters, electrical Earth-pointing and sensor operation. Aero-
circuitry for optimizing discrimination of space advisors at the ground sites and the
targets from a cluttered background, and Air Force Satellite Control Facility pro-
Equator improvements in data processing onboard vided the leadership for debugging and
and at the ground station. A key feature of modifying the software with “field-fixes”
the DSP design (insisted upon by the and configuring the satellite for collecting
Aerospace advisors to the Air Force), was data. The anomalous orbit was fortuitous
the absence of moving elements in the sen- because it provided the opportunity to
sor optics, elements that enormously sim- observe launches from both the United
plified the bore sighting and precise States and the Soviet Union. The function-
attitude determination. The optical axis of ing of the system was proved, and data
the telescope was offset from the axis of from a considerable number of observa-
DSP mode of scanning.The detector arrays cover the
rotation of the satellite; the field of view of tions were collected.
range from near nadir to slightly above the horizon.
the detector array extended from near the In May 1971, Flight 2 was successfully
The downlinked data include the responding detec-
tor identification and the universal time, which spec-
nadir to slightly above the horizon. Thus, launched, and after on-orbit testing
ify the target position in satellite coordinates of the rotation of the satellite provided a scan (accomplished in a very short time), it was
azimuth and elevation. of most of a hemisphere every 10 seconds. turned over to the Air Force Systems Com-
Two ground stations were initially built, mand. The satellite was stationed over the
much more powerful telescope and many one located near Denver, Colorado, and Indian Ocean to view the major launch
more detectors was designed by Aerojet the other deep in the outback of Australia. sites of the Eurasian continent. For Flight 2
for installation in a satellite built by TRW The initial satellite, Flight 1, was to effectively perform the warning mis-
Inc. The DSP development effort was orig- launched in November 1970 by a Titan sion, it had to recognize and report ICBM
inally known as Program 266, then 949, IIIC launch vehicle with a Transtage third launches and reject all infrared phenomena

Ground station in Australia. Deployment of DSP Flight 16 from the shuttle in

November 1991.

from other sources. This required tem- restrict the spectral bandpass to suppress be added to DSP for determining the pre-
plates (intensities vs. time) for threat mis- terrestrial sources. That addition and other cise attitude of the infrared sensors. (In ret-
siles to compare with the data as it was changes in the detectors and electrical cir- rospect, the use of an Earth sensor for
transmitted to the ground. Analysis to that cuitry provided a substantial improvement pointing and star sensors for instanta-
end by other organizations would have in sensitivity, which was needed to detect neous, precise attitude determination
taken months. and track upper stages. The average orbit proved to be effective.) Aerospace con-
Aerospace and the sensor contractor, lifetime of a sensor has been five years, cluded that a ground-based laser operating
working closely with personnel at the site, with considerable variation. To date, 19 in the infrared band of the sensor—analo-
produced templates in a few weeks and satellites have been built. All but one were gous to a beacon or transponder in the field
continually upgraded them as the data launched with Titan vehicles, those since of view of a radar—could serve that pur-
from missile sightings were accumulated. 1989 with Inertial Upper Stages. The pose. The idea was vigorously pursued,
This analysis also facilitated some neces- exception was Flight 16, deployed from and a DSP satellite was successfully illu-
sary modifications of the system software the shuttle into a low Earth orbit for subse- minated within a year of the first satellite
by Aerospace and contractor personnel quent boost by an Inertial Upper Stage launch. Aerospace developed and provided
assigned to the ground site. Transition of motor to a geostationary altitude. hydrogen-fluoride chemical lasers for that
Flight 2 to a fully operational status, con- The research test series that preceded use.
sequently, was greatly accelerated. the development of DSP provided no Although the lasers were rarely needed
The sensor met the requirements and effective means for establishing the pre- for precise attitude determination of DSP
rapidly created a database of all the ballis- cise pointing of the sensors. Aerospace satellites, they were used as a beacon for
tic missiles and space launches of the time. realized that a foolproof backup needed to functional checkout of the overall system.
In later years, additional satellites were
deployed to maintain a constellation with 0.161 0.160
satellites in the East to report ICBM
launches and in the West to cover the
Elevation (rad)
Elevation (rad)

ocean areas from which SLBMs could be

launched. Later, a larger constellation of 0.153 0.155
satellites, stationed over a range of longi-
tudes, provided multisensor viewing of Horizon
areas of particular concern.
The sensors have been upgraded and 0.145 0.150
3.75 3.79 3.83 2.37 2.43 2.49
improved in several respects throughout
Azimuth (rad) Azimuth (rad)
the life of the program. One significant
improvement was the addition to Flight 6 Apparent motion of target in the satellite field of view over the Atlantic Ocean (left), with time increasing upward
and subsequent sensors of an array of sen- to the left, and over the western Pacific Ocean (right), where the launch site was beyond the horizon and the tar-
sors to view targets above the horizon. For get appeared after rising above the Earth limb. Green indicates target positions of maximum intensity per scan in
such fields of view, it was not necessary to the main array; blue indicates positions reported by the more sensitive cells in the above-the-horizon array. Note
the increasing spread as the vehicle accelerates.
Also, they were used for determining sen- the lower intensities of the target distrib-
sor resolution and bore sighting, new soft- uted in the vicinity. For such analysis, data
ware validation and evaluation of stray from the satellites can be displayed in a
light properties, and assessing system variety of forms.
sensitivity to uncooperative laser illumina- DSP Support of Theater Operations
tion and developing means for its mitiga- DSP took on a more direct and proactive
tion. Incidentally, after two star sensors on role in its missile-warning mission during
Flight 8 failed, lasers were used in their Desert Storm operations in 1991. In that
originally intended applications—beacons conflict, Iraq launched a large number of
in the sensor field of view as the primary Scud missiles at targets located in Saudi
means of determining the precise attitude. Arabia and Israel. Specifically, the DSP
Target data downlinked from the satel- satellites stationed in the Eastern Hemi-
lites to the ground include the intensities sphere detected and tracked the missiles
of the detected source above a prescribed during the boost period and reported their
threshold, the identification of the headings to the appropriate Patriot missile
responding detectors, and the universal batteries fielded by the U.S. Army in those
time, the latter two providing the instanta- areas. The information was provided by
neous target position in satellite telephone communication links, some of
coordinates: elevation and azimuth. By which were staffed by Aerospace person-
appropriate processing, including a com- nel, allowing the Patriots to intercept the
parison with stored templates of intensity incoming Scuds. Although the effective-
U.S. Army

versus time based on prior sightings, the Launch of a Scud missile for engagement by an
ness of the Patriots in destroying the war- improved Patriot in the Willow Dune experiment at
target can be identified and its heading heads can be questioned, the interceptions the Kwajalein Missile Range in 1997.
established. The principal product of the did take place, establishing the feasibility
DSP system in near real time is a warning of defense against theater missiles. space-based communication links. DSP
message from the ground station relaying Largely because of their success in satellites provide worldwide coverage so
that information to the national command Desert Storm, DSP satellites currently that the ALERT system can monitor all
authority. DSP satellites have fulfilled play the key role in the Air Force’s Attack major regional conflicts and areas of con-
their primary mission by reporting thou- and Early Reporting to Theater (ALERT) cern simultaneously, and provide threat-
sands of missile launches over three system, an operational function of the 11th missile descriptors, such as launch point,
decades. Space Warning Squadron of the 21st heading, position, velocity, and predicted
Data for Off-Line Analysis Space Wing. Aerospace provided invalu- impact location.
The data from those DSP sightings have able assistance to the Air Force in the pro- Observations of Other Sources
also been provided to various centers for curement of that system by generating The database contains hundreds of sight-
off-line analysis, when appropriate, and specifications and providing support with ings of other sources that appear in the
for archiving in a comprehensive database the contractor selection process. For the fields of view of the sensors; many are
maintained by Aerospace. The database ALERT system, data from the entire DSP assigned descriptors that characterize the
contains the reports on all ballistic missile constellation and other sources are nature and time variation of their move-
sightings, as well as on a vast number of integrated and processed at one facility ment across the monitor screen. In no
other events, military in nature and other- located at Schriever Air Force Base in Col- instance has analysis failed to identify the
wise (for example, space launch vehicles). orado. The detection reports, considerably sources of those sightings. (Contrary to
The data listings include not only the max- improved in accuracy, are transmitted rap- some assertions in the popular press, there
imum intensities in a given scan, but also idly to commanders in the theaters through have been no sightings of alien spacecraft.)

300 300
Altitude (kilometers)

Altitude (kilometers)

250 250

200 200
GMT = 29348
GMT = 29348
150 150
29100 29200 29300 29400 29500 300 400 500 600 Intensity
GMT (seconds) Range (kilometers)

Time variation of maximum single-detector intensi- (Left) Spatial distribution of signals reported in a single scan. The signals from the extended plume merge into
ties over a range of two orders of magnitude. (GMT: those of a persistent trail. (Right) Distributions intensities reported in a single scan with altitude. The solid sym-
Greenwich mean time). bol on both graphs indicates the position of the vehicle.
DSP DSP DSP reflected sunlight from the ash plume ris-
ing high in the atmosphere.
Observations of many other infrared
sources, both stationary and moving, have
been routinely observed, reported, and
processed at Aerospace for inclusion in the
database, archived at the Ballistic Missile
Defense Organization Advanced Missile
ALERT Signature Center, Air Force Arnold Engi-
control center
neering and Development Center, Tulla-
CONUS homa, Tennessee, which is accessible to
ground station
qualified users. Over the years, there have
been innumerable reports analyzing the
data to fulfill the needs of various Space
and Missile Systems Center program
Communications offices and other government agencies.
networks The results of most of those analyses are in
the classified literature.
The database contains an extensive col-
Theater National lection of events, the observations of
commanders command authority
which were not even thought of when the
system was originally conceived. Among
other uses, that collection provides the
fundamental basis for evaluating the effect
Overseas European of such events on the performance of the
ground station ground station
(Australia) Space Based Infrared Systems (SBIRS)
that will replace DSP in a few years. It is
The ALERT architecture. (CONUS: Continental United States) axiomatic in the field of infrared phenom-
enology that when more sensitive sensors
are deployed in space, unexpected obser-
Among the objects of current interest are explosions, and solar scatter and reflec- 130°
the occasional meteors of significant size. tions. The observation of such events is of
Earth is constantly bombarded by small course facilitated by very low humidity, 55°
meteors, most the size of a grain of sand. which minimizes absorption in the path to 120° Edmonton
Their numbers, and intensities due to space. 115°
atmospheric drag, appear to vary inversely Some particularly mysterious sightings 110°
with mass. Large meteors of potentially occurred in the early 1970s. Extremely 50°
catastrophic size are rare. Nevertheless, bright stationary sources suddenly appeared Missoula
during the last 30 years, DSP has observed in the area adjacent to the Caspian Sea, with Meteor
ground track
some very sizable meteors. For example, apparent intensities of nearly a megawatt Perigee
in 1972 an exceptionally large meteor was per steradian lasting for several minutes. 45°
observed in a grazing trajectory that came Certain analysts elsewhere attached a sin-
within an astronomical whisker of hitting ister interpretation to those events. How-
Salt Lake City. Analysis by Aerospace led ever, analysis at Aerospace solved the Salt Lake
to the conclusion that the object was of mystery simply by noting that these City 40°
sufficient mass that a slightly deeper pene- sources all appeared precisely along a
tration of the atmosphere would have pipeline to Moscow from the natural gas Path of a meteor moving north at 18 kilometers per
second over several western states, at closest
resulted in an impact equal to the explo- fields in the area. Clearly, the sources were
approach a mere 94 kilometers above Earth.
sive force of the atomic bombs that burning gas, presumably flared off for
destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in maintenance of the pipeline, a conclusion vations and other surprises are invariably
World War II. later confirmed by other information. Gas produced. This is true of the DSP sensors,
In addition to such moving objects, very flares from oil refineries are also routinely not only in their original configuration, but
intense stationary thermal sources on the observed, particularly in dry regions such especially in the improved versions. The
ground can be seen in spite of the back- as Southern California and the Near East. new system will feature many improve-
ground suppression afforded by the spec- Likewise, volcanoes are frequently ments in the sensors and advances in over-
tral filters and electronic circuitry. Such observed at various locations throughout all capability, and will be assigned
sources include fires, gas flare-offs from the world, sometimes by the emission additional missions. SBIRS will quite likely
oil refineries, volcanic eruptions, nuclear from the lava flow, but more often by bring many surprises when it is deployed.

Rocket Exhaust Plume Phenomenology

is an introductory treatment of the
multidisciplinary subject of plume
phenomenology as it relates
to the development of space-
based defense systems. The text
Large meteor seen in broad daylight in August 1972. The fireball is the bright spot just to the right of the cloud, covers the elementary principles of
in the left center, followed by a faint trail to the right. Later, at a closer approach, the fiery source was much rocketry, basics of rocket-propellant
brighter, with a teardrop shape and a more visible trail. (Photo extracted from video conversion of a film record- combustion, gas dynamics of super-
ing submitted to the government some years ago by an amateur photographer.) sonic exhaust plumes, infrared radi-
ation processes, theoretical plume
models, physical properties of
References Missile Defense Data Center, Bits-n-Bytes, Vol.
exhaust constituents, diagnostic
5, No. 2 (Spring 1997).
W. Kellogg and S. Passman, “Infrared Tech- measurement techniques, and
niques Applied to the Detection and Intercep- R. D. Rawcliffe, et al., “Meteor of August 10, other related topics. More specifi-
tion of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles,” 1972,” Nature, Vol. 247, 449 (1974).
cally, this work is primarily con-
Rand Corporation Report No. RM-1572 (Octo- D. W. Pack, et al., “Civilian Uses of Surveil- cerned with the phenomenology of
ber 1955). lance Satellites,” Crosslink, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Janu- rocket exhaust plumes as the tar-
R. Zirkind, “Review of Project Tabstone,” ary 2000).
gets of space-based surveillance
Journal of Missile Defense Research, Vol. 4, R. S. J. Sparks, et al., “The Giant Umbrella systems; however, the spectral, tem-
No. 1 (Summer 1966). Cloud of the May 18th Explosive Eruption of poral, and spatial distributions of
R. G. Hall, “Missile Defense Alarm: the Gene- Mount St. Helens,” Journal of Volcanology and
the infrared emission from rocket-
sis of Space-Based Infrared Early Warning,” Geothermal Research, Vol. 28, 257–274
powered vehicles are also required
Space and Missile Systems Center Conference
for the design and optimization of
Honoring IR Pioneers (The Aerospace Corpo- E. Tagliaferri, et al., “Detection of Meteoroid
ration, June 3, 1999). sensors for various other defense-
Impacts by Optical Sensors in Earth Orbit,”
Hazards Due to Comets and Asteroids, edited
related missions. It is written at a
E. E. Lapin, “Surveillance by Satellite,” Jour-
by T. Gehrels (University of Arizona Press, level intended to bridge the gap
nal of Defense Research, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Sum-
mer 1976). 1994). between space systems engineers
Col. D. L. Burkett II, USAF, “Space Based
and scientists involved in detailed
Col. J. Kidd, and 1st Lt. H. Caldwell, USAF,
Infrared Systems SBIRS,” Space and Missile studies of plume observables.
“Defense Support Program: Support to a
Changing World,” AIAA Space Programs and Systems Center Conference Honoring IR Pio- 2000 • 286 pp • ISBN 1-884989-08-X
Technologies Conference (Huntsville, AL, neers (The Aerospace Corporation, June 3, Published by The Aerospace Press and
March 24, 1992). 1999). American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Maj. J. Rosolanka, USAF, “Defense Support F. S. Simmons, Rocket Exhaust Plume Phe- Order from AIAA
Program—A Pictorial Chronology 1970– nomenology (The Aerospace Press and Ameri- 800.682.2422
1998,” Space and Missile Systems Center Con- can Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, or
ference Honoring IR Pioneers (The Aerospace El Segundo, CA, 2000). www.aiaa.org
Corporation, 3 June 1999).
Aerospace Photos
Capture Launch Clouds
Robert Abernathy
A new and improved method of measuring
launch-vehicle ground clouds leads to fewer
launch delays and reduces costs.

During countdown to the launch, the unnecessary launch holds and saving the

he spectacular display of bil-
lowing smoke that envelops U.S. Air Force Range Safety uses an onsite government millions of dollars while pro-
computer model known as the Rocket tecting the public safety.
the launchpad during a rocket
Exhaust Effluent Dispersion Model Monitoring Ground Clouds
launch has become synony- (REEDM) to predict the rise and disper-
mous with the launch itself. Rockets Ground clouds are difficult to monitor.
sion of the expected ground cloud. Within the first few minutes after a launch,
release immense amounts of exhaust. REEDM relies on meteorological data they grow to dimensions of 1–2 kilometers
Titan IVB solid-rocket motors emit such as wind, cloud cover, solar angle, and and rise to similar heights. Also, although
118,000 pounds of exhaust during the weather-front conditions to predict the the optimal wind for a launch carries the
first 10 seconds of firing. The hot extent of the toxic hazard corridor, the ground cloud out to sea, such a wind direc-
exhaust accumulates at the launchpad downwind area where ground concentra- tion does not allow for the use of ground-
to form what is called the “ground tions of chemicals may exceed allowable based launch-cloud sampling systems.
cloud.” As the rocket ascends, it also public exposure limits. When REEDM Aircraft instrumented to sample and
leaves behind a continuous stream of predicts the launch may cause exposure to measure ground-cloud concentrations of
exhaust, known as the launch column. unsafe levels of toxic gases, the launch is toxic compounds have been used during
delayed until meteorological conditions launches of the space shuttle, but aircraft
improve. sampling is expensive and doesn’t provide
When REEDM was being developed an instantaneous three-dimensional extent
during the 1960s and 1970s, several cloud- for the cloud. Additionally, this method of
transport parameters were not well known, measurement typically relies on the pilot’s
so the model was deliberately designed to ability to fly into the center of the visible
be conservative. Over the years, the level cloud, which precludes accurate nighttime
of toxic compounds considered acceptable sampling. Without visible feedback, the
for public exposure has been lowered, pilot doesn’t know the aircraft’s location
increasing the likelihood of a launch delay. relative to the center of the cloud, so con-
By 1994, toxic hazard corridor predictions centration measurements are extracted
were beginning to reduce launch availabil- from unknown regions.
ity at both Air Force launch ranges, the Aerospace proposed an alternative
Eastern Range at Cape Canaveral Air approach to monitoring the rise and expan-
Force Station and the Western Range at sion of exhaust clouds, and in 1994 it devel-
Vandenberg Air Force Base. oped the technology to track ground clouds
The high cost of launch delays, up to using multiple cameras that capture images
$1 million a day, and the continued con- simultaneously from various locations sur-
cern for public welfare prompted develop- rounding the launch pad. Because a ground
ment of the Air Force Atmospheric cloud rises and stabilizes quickly, the cloud
Dispersion Model Validation Program needs to be tracked for only a few minutes
(MVP) to test and improve REEDM’s following launch. The images captured
accuracy. The Aerospace Corporation during the tracking complement measure-
developed this validation program and ments garnered from aircraft sampling.
provides technical management. Day and night images of the launch
An Aerospace method of monitoring cloud were needed to test REEDM under
exhaust clouds using photographic all launch conditions. Visible and infrared
imagery showed that REEDM consistently imagery would be captured, using visible
underestimated the ground-cloud stabi- charge-coupled-device cameras and ther-
lization height and overestimated the mal infrared scanners. In daytime, the vis-
extent of the toxic hazard corridor. With ible cameras “see” the scattering of
subsequent Aerospace modifications, sunlight caused by aerosols from the solid-
REEDM predictions have improved rocket motors. Throughout the day and
launch-range availability, preventing night, the infrared scanners observe the
temperature difference between the warm
Launch of a Titan IVB rocket from Cape Canaveral
launch cloud (vapors) and the cooler back-
Air Force Station. ground sky.
Cameras provide better-resolution
images than infrared scanners, but the
quality of camera imagery is subject to
adequate lighting, which depends upon the
relative positions of the sun, cloud, and
camera. The camera can also provide
clearer cloud-edge-detection imagery of a
low-elevation cloud on a hot sticky day
because atmospheric humidity and cloud
elevation affect the quality of the infrared
Because the two imaging systems com-
plement each other, Aerospace designed
and built four visible and infrared imaging
systems (VIRIS) in which the visible cam-
era and the infrared scanner are mounted
on a single tripod. The camera and infrared
scanner are “coaligned,” meaning the cen-
ter pixel of each camera simultaneously
views the same distant object. The four
systems were shipped alternately to Cape
Canaveral and Vandenberg for use during
Titan IV launches from both launch ranges. The Aerospace Corporation’s imagery crew tracking a Titan IV ground cloud at the Eastern Range at Cape Canaver-
al Air Force Station. The vehicle assembly building on the left and the mobile service tower next to the ground
Calibrating VIRIS
cloud served as useful calibration landmarks.The rocket’s launch column extends above the ground cloud.
Aerospace designed custom tripod heads
that accurately encode, or digitize, the azimuth and elevation to the ground cloud multiple perspectives. But how is the hori-
viewing direction (azimuth and elevation) from each camera’s perspective. Hence, zontal extent of the cloud determined when
as VIRIS tracks a cloud. Optimal camera the ground cloud’s approximate position the same sides cannot be seen from both
locations depend upon wind direction, so can be triangulated in real time using the perspectives? Where is the “middle” of the
they cannot be selected until a few hours pointing angles to the cloud from all sites. cloud? PLMTRACK allows the analyst to
before launch. The challenge is to quickly Triangulating Cloud Position use a rectangle to define the top, bottom,
calibrate the systems, aligning a known Aerospace developed PLMTRACK soft- left, and right extremes of the cloud from
pixel with true north for zero azimuth and ware to triangulate the position and extent each camera’s perspective, and the projec-
level for zero elevation. of a ground cloud with imagery captured tion of these rays provides an estimate of
Calibrating the angle encoders of the simultaneously from any two sites. Once the extent for the cloud. The middle of the
tripods requires the camera crew to identi- an image is calibrated, each pixel repre- rectangle provides the ray through the mid-
fy large landmarks that can be observed by sents a ray into space from the camera’s dle of the cloud from each site, and the
both the cameras and the infrared scanners. position. PLMTRACK converts a selected nearest approach of these middle rays rep-
Before the imagery systems are deployed, pixel in one image (the top of the cloud, resents the position of the cloud.
a survey provides accurate position infor- for example) into an azimuth and elevation Validating Multicamera Imagery
mation on the observable landmarks, using from that image’s camera location. It then Neither the camera nor the infrared scan-
either a differentially corrected Global projects that ray across the simultaneous ner directly detects the toxic hydrochloric
Positioning System (GPS) receiver or image from the other site. The analyst acid in rocket exhaust. For this reason, it is
accurate maps of the launch range. Once identifies the same feature (top of the important to document not only that the
the camera is set up, the GPS receiver pro- cloud) in the sister image using the pro- cameras and infrared scanners see the
vides the camera-site location. jected ray for perspective, and the same same extent (angular size) of the ground
The camera crew calculates the azimuth feature is thereby seen from two perspec- cloud, but also that the observable (seen by
and elevation from the camera to the land- tives. PLMTRACK converts this informa- VIRIS) extent contains the toxic acid that
mark. Once the center pixel is aligned with tion into a ray from each site that passes might pose a hazard.
the landmark, it is a simple matter to set through the same feature and calculates Aerospace images obtained from the
the correct azimuth and elevation readout the closest approach of the two rays, coaligned camera and infrared scanner
from the tripod. The field of view is cali- which represents the position of the have consistently shown the same angular
brated by scanning the landmark horizon- selected feature in three-dimensional extent for the Titan IV ground clouds, ver-
tally and vertically while recording the space. This approach works well when an ifying that both image-capturing methods
change in encoded azimuth and elevation. object or feature can be observed from are similarly useful when applied to track-
Typically, camera crews can set up and two perspectives. ing ground clouds. However, these obser-
calibrate to 0.1 degree of accuracy within Triangulating the top and bottom of a vations do not prove that hazardous levels
45 minutes. Each calibrated imagery sys- cloud at low elevations is easy because of toxic chemicals do not extend beyond
tem provides a real-time display of the both top and bottom are observable from the observable extent of the cloud.
Aircraft sampling of hydrochloric acid
within four Titan IV exhaust clouds pro-
vided the complementary data needed to
validate the coaligned multicamera +
imagery. An aircraft was fitted with a
Geomet hydrochloric-acid monitor to +
obtain concentration profiles during four
launches between May 1995 and Decem-
ber 1996—two each from Cape Canaveral
and Vandenberg. Comparison of the air-
craft data and imagery showed that the
observable extent contained the measura-
ble acid (in the form of both vapor and PLMTRACK’s analysis of blimp imagery from two sites.The red pixel (+) is projected as a blue ray,and the blue pixel (+)
aerosol). These observations are consistent as a red ray,in the sister images.The Good Year blimp was used to test the accuracy of both PLMTRACK and PLMVOL.
with the mechanism of atmospheric dis-
persion: Atmospheric eddies mix vapors
(seen in the infrared) and aerosols (seen in M2 X
the visible) equally well. These results
PLMTRACK Calculations X
show that VIRIS provided the cloud’s
extent for Titan IV day and night launches, Top of plume = T1 × T2
and that the extent includes the hazardous Bottom of plume = B1 × B2
X M1
levels of hydrochloric acid. Middle of plume = M1 × M2
Predicting Ground-Cloud Other points = nearest point X
of approach for defined lines L1 X
Stabilization Height
Because it is initially warmer than the sur-
rounding air, the ground cloud rises. As it
does, it entrains the ambient air, which
causes it to cool and lose buoyancy. Within X X X
three to four minutes, the cloud reaches its R1
“stabilization height,” where it attains ther-
mal equilibrium with the surrounding air Site 1 L2 R2
and stops rising. The 1995 version of
REEDM was used to predict the height of
the ground cloud prior to the May 14, 1995,
launch of a Titan IV. The REEDM predic-
tion underestimated the stabilization height
of the cloud by half, which corresponds to Site 2
overestimating the ground-level concentra-
tion by a factor of eight. During the next
three years, the Aerospace Titan IV ground-
cloud imagery consistently showed a differ-
ence between the observed and predicted
T1 T2
stabilization heights for 13 launches from
both launch ranges.
L1 M1 R1 L2 M2 R2
Because the stabilization heights
derived from the images consistently
B1 B2
remained much higher than REEDM’s
predictions, the REEDM code was
reviewed, revealing several errors. Yet
Image 1 Site 1 Image 1 Site 2
even after these errors were corrected, pre-
dictions of stabilization height remained PLMTRACK-derived Cartesian extent and position from analysis of multiperspective imagery.
too low. Speculating that the values of two
radius of the ground cloud and the rate of sis algorithm, which reconstructs the
volumetric parameters in the cloud-rise
increase in radius with altitude (the air three-dimensional cloud from the two-
algorithm might be wrong, Aerospace
entrainment coefficient), would come dimensional imagery collected simultane-
focused its image-analysis efforts on the
directly from these measurements. ously at multiple locations. First, the
accurate measurement of the cloud’s vol-
Reconstructing the Cloud simultaneous imagery from all available
ume immediately after launch and during
locations is digitized and imported with
the cloud’s rise. The desired volumetric Aerospace developed PLMVOL, a soft-
the calibration information into PLMVOL.
parameters, which are simply the initial ware application based on a second analy-
How Meteorological Then the analyst traces the
outline of the exhaust
Conditions Affect cloud within each image.
Launches Next, PLMVOL con-
verts the pixels within
these outlines into rays
The local meteorological conditions
projected into space from
control the transport and spread of
each camera’s location.
potentially toxic rocket exhaust in
The exhaust cloud is locat-
the atmospheric boundary layer,
ed at the intersection of
the layer that is directly influenced
these rays. To derive the
by Earth’s surface—where we live
points where the rays inter-
and breathe. During the day, the
cept, PLMVOL divides
boundary layer roughly corre-
space into small cubes and
sponds to the height to which pol-
marks them as occupied by
lutants are mixed (the mixing
the ground cloud only
when intercepted by rays
The atmospheric boundary layer
from all available perspec-
is classified as stable, neutral, or
tives. It maps the three-
unstable based on altitudinal tem-
dimensional extent of the
perature (the temperature profile).
ground cloud as the Carte-
Mixing is most vigorous in the
sian locations (x,y,z) of all
boundary layer when there is free
the occupied volume ele-
convection (unstable). The bound-
ments. Since the volume
ary layer stability and height are
elements are adjacent
affected by many variables, includ-
(stacked cubes), summing
ing latitude, time of year, time of
all occupied volume ele-
day, synoptic conditions, surface
ments yields the imagery-
roughness, terrain, cloud cover, and
derived volume of the
wind variation with altitude. These
ground cloud.
variables are necessary for disper-
Finally, the sphere-
sion-model predictions because
equivalent radius, used by
they determine the thermal and
REEDM, is calculated
mechanical generation of turbu-
from the imagery-derived
lence and the buoyant forces on the
cloud volume by determin- USAF
ground cloud.
ing the radius of a sphere The ground cloud and the abort cloud are produced by a failed launch. If
Wind shear, a very strong varia- the abort occurs several hundred feet above ground, REEDM may predict
with an equivalent volume.
tion in wind direction or speed with a larger toxic hazard corridor for the unburned oxidizer than for the
Typically, the Titan IV ground cloud.
altitude, can also threaten the phys-
ground cloud is not spheri-
ical integrity of the launch vehicle
cal in shape, but the sphere-equivalent did not always provide the complementary
or prevent its accurate insertion
radius is a convenient unit for comparison. perspectives needed to accurately map the
into orbit. Lightning, either natural
The accuracy of PLMVOL estimates cloud volume.
or vehicle-induced, can damage the
depends upon the relative position of the Analyzing Amateur Imagery
vehicle. A variety of meteorological
camera sites to the ground cloud’s REEDM also predicts toxic exposure
conditions can cause large electric
position. PLMVOL can’t provide an accu- from a low-altitude launch-vehicle abort.
fields aloft and pose a lightning haz-
rate cloud volume if cameras do not see In the event of an abort, the launch vehicle
ard to ascending vehicles and
the ground cloud from complementary would be destroyed in an explosion that
determine the propagation of blast
perspectives, for example along-wind and releases a hypergolic mixture of liquid
waves in the case of a vehicle fail-
crosswind perspectives, simultaneously. fuel and oxidizer. If the abort occurs sev-
ure. The meteorological conditions
Aerospace used PLMVOL to extract eral hundred feet above the ground,
over a launch range can cause a
cloud-volume data for only 6 of 13 imaged REEDM may predict a larger toxic haz-
launch delay for many reasons and
Titan IV ground clouds. Several factors led ard corridor for the unburned oxidizer
are critical in determining whether
to this low yield of volumetric data. For than for the ground cloud.
a range is available for launching a
example, the cloud didn’t always travel in Aerospace proved that normal launch-
the predicted direction, Vandenberg cloud data could be applied to the abort-
restricted access to camera sites to the east cloud scenario. It measured the behavior
and south of the launch pad, and low (rise, growth, and stabilization) of normal
atmospheric clouds blocked visibility launch clouds during launches from 1994
from one or more of the sites. In sum, the and 1997. Abort clouds weren’t measured
available camera locations and visibility
concerns, however, limited test sites to
desert locations that did not match the ter-
rain or the meteorological conditions of
the launch ranges. Two other options were
to continue imaging Titan IV launches on
the chance of a failure or search for
imagery of earlier aborts hoping to inter-
pret that imagery quantitatively. We chose
the latter.
A worst-case abort scenario was inad-
vertently tested on April 18, 1986, when a
defect in a Titan 34D-9 solid rocket motor
caused the rocket to explode at an eleva-
tion of 830 feet at Vandenberg. Aerospace
reviewed the videotapes from the three
range-tracking cameras. Unfortunately,
the camera operators at two locations did
not keep the abort cloud completely within
Camera site 1 the field of view. To obtain a cloud’s vol-
ume, which involves analyzing the abort-
cloud imagery from the third range
camera, a second, complementary per-
spective of the abort cloud had to be avail-
able. Without abort-cloud imagery from a
second camera, the abort-cloud imagery
from the third range camera could not be
Camera site 2 interpreted quantitatively (as cloud posi-
PLMVOL’s cloud volume (purple shape) is mapped by projection of pixels (rays) into volume elements.The rays are tion and volume).
identified as outside (dotted) or inside (solid) the ground cloud’s outline (red line) from each perspective.Volume Luckily, an amateur photographer
elements are occupied by the ground cloud only when intercepted by “inside”rays from all available perspectives. videotaped the launch and its abort cloud
with a handheld camcorder. This photog-
raphy provided the necessary second,
because no Titan IVs failed during The few options for obtaining the nec- nearly perpendicular, perspective. Inter-
deployment. Without abort-cloud data, the essary data were considered in 1997. One pretation of the abort-cloud imagery was
accuracy of REEDM predictions for an possibility was to use an explosive release complicated because both cameras were
abort situation could not be validated nor of oxidizer to simulate the abort cloud panned and zoomed several times during
could the ground cloud’s entrainment data because the most toxic component of the the three minutes the images were cap-
be shown to apply to the abort cloud. abort cloud is unburned oxidizer. Safety tured. Neither camera was mounted on an

Height in meters (mean sea level)

1600 Imagery-derived
1000 0.64 was REEDM’s default
REEDM version 7.05 prediction
600 (3 hours before launch)
0.00 4.00 8.00 12.00 16.00 20.00
Time after launch (minutes)

The REEDM-predicted and Aerospace-imagery-derived cloud-height curves for a Aerospace imagery-derived air-entrainment rates for normal Titan IV ground clouds
May 14, 1995, Titan IV launch. The imagery-derived rise curve for the ground cloud and for the Titan 34D-9 abort cloud. The values are substantially lower than the
revealed a factor-of-two discrepancy between measured and predicted stabilization default value used in REEDM calculations during the past 30 years. Legend: A—solid
height. Subsequent MVP deployments documented that REEDM systematically rocket motor; B—upgraded solid rocket motor; C—Cape Canaveral Air Force Sta-
underestimated the stabilization heights for all 13 Titan IV ground clouds at both tion;V—Vandenberg Air Force Base.
ranges under a variety of launch conditions.
Calibrating Amateur
Abort-Cloud Imagery
An amateur video of the 1986 Titan 34D-9 Top left of SLC-4W Umbilical Tower (574,232)
aborted launch provided the second per- SLC-4E Mobile Service Tower
spective necessary to measure the vol-
ume of the abort cloud. In 1998 an analyst Top of Titan 34D-9 (100,268)
used the launch facilities shown in a frame Top of SLC-4E Umbilical Tower (100,262)
of the video to provide the known land-
marks needed to calibrate the field of view SLC-4W Mobile Service Tower
and the pointing angle of the camera for
the image. The analyst also chose various
unknown landmarks (such as patches of
sand on the hillside) and measured their
pixel locations in x, y coordinates (shown Patch 2 (72,143)
in parentheses). Once the image was cali- Patch 3 (484,93)
brated, each pixel could be converted to a
specific azimuth and elevation from the Patch 1 (231,103)
camera site. As the camera was panned Patch 4 (601,110)
and zoomed, these landmarks provided
FOV = 6.62 deg by 4.96 deg
the calibration for subsequent unknown
features (tertiary calibration points) as
they moved into the field of view. This
method of transferring the calibration to tives. The map shows the position of the pad. A pixel (+ sign at the top of the abort
subsequent imagery was used by Aero- launch pad and the abort-cloud images cloud) in the image from the surf site’s
space to interpret quantitatively the ama- taken at each identified camera site. The perspective (north of the abort cloud) is
teur photography of the abort cloud. colored lines on the map show that the projected by PLMTRACK as a ray (red line)
The simultaneous images collected at right and left edges of the images corre- into the simultaneous image from the
surf (amateur video) and program sites spond to the angular field of view of the program site’s perspective (southeast of
reveal the shape and size of the red abort cameras and that the cameras are point- the abort cloud). The fact that the pro-
cloud from almost right-angle perspec- ing at the abort cloud above the launch jected ray touches the top of the abort

angle-encoding tripod, nobody intention- initial cloud size are constants for the Titan Cape Canaveral and four at Vandenberg
ally calibrated the field of view of the cam- IV normal launch cloud and have the same between 1994 and 1997. MVP deploy-
eras, and the camera operators did not value for both launch ranges and for both ments involved collecting meteorological
realize that abort clouds would later be of sets of solid rocket motors. The coefficient data, necessary for running REEDM or
more interest than burning ground debris. is the same for the 34D-9 abort cloud, improved future dispersion models.
Fortunately, Aerospace was able to cali- which indicates similar behavior for both Aircraft samples were taken from two
brate much of the abort-cloud imagery and normal and abort clouds. Cape Canaveral and two Vandenberg Titan
used PLMVOL to quantify the position and The current version of REEDM (7.09) IV launches during MVP. Aerospace
volume of the abort cloud during its rise. provides improved stabilization height analysis of these aircraft data revealed that
Improving Model Predictions predictions through the use of Aerospace both the visible and the infrared imagery
Aerospace imagery-derived air entrain- imagery-derived values for both the air “see” the full extent of the cloud contain-
ment rates for the Titan 34D-9 abort cloud entrainment coefficient and the initial ing hydrochloric acid during the first few
measured at Vandenberg and for normal radius. The new REEDM predictions, minutes after launch. This means that the
Titan IV ground clouds measured at both which are in closer agreement with the observable aerosol and vapor disperse at
Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg were sub- observed launch-cloud stabilization the same rate as the unobservable acid,
stantially lower than the default value used heights, have improved launch-range which is consistent with the behavior of
in REEDM calculations during the past 30 availability by preventing unnecessary aerosols and the mechanism of turbulent
years. These values indicate that REEDM- launch holds. dispersion in the atmosphere.
based predictions of ground-cloud stabi- In addition, a Titan IV database now Tracking Tracer Gas
lization height have been consistently too establishes the margin of safety for current The Aerospace imagery of the Titan IV
low and toxic-hazard predictions too high. and future dispersion models. The MVP launches provided useful cloud rise and
The imagery-derived results also show database includes quantitative analysis of stabilization data under favorable meteoro-
that the air entrainment coefficient and the imagery from nine Titan IV launches at logical conditions, that is, when winds
carried the ground cloud out to sea or over
Surf site
unpopulated areas. Aerospace imagery
crews at Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg
supported four two-week-long elevated-
+ tracer-gas releases that provided comple-
mentary dispersion data, including winds
that carried the innocuous tracer toward
populated areas. During these MVP
N efforts, Aerospace established the useful-
ness of quantitative imagery for measuring
W the near-field (2–5 kilometers) dispersion
560 ft of tracer gases.
Surf’s Image
640 ft A blimp released an invisible inert tracer
gas at various heights when the wind was
blowing inland. This allowed for disper-
720 ft
sion measurements over the complex
inland terrain of both ranges. Analysis of
SLC-4E the infrared imagery provided the cross-
launch pad Program
site wind and along-wind expansion rates in
for Titan 34D-9
the near field at the release altitude. During
these elevated-tracer-release experiments,
aircraft and van sampling provided trajec-
tory and dispersion information further
afield. These tracer data complement the
cloud in the sister image illustrates the Titan IV launch-cloud data.
usefulness of the PLMTRACK software and
Predicting Ground Clouds in the Future
the accuracy of our calibration for both
sites. If the analyst identifies the top of the The ability of Aerospace to capture and
cloud in both images, PLMTRACK reports process quantitative imagery of Titan
the point of nearest approach of the rays Program’s Image ground clouds has provided, at a low cost to
projected from both sites and, therefore, the consumer, the rise and dispersion data
the position of the top of the cloud. necessary to tune REEDM for more accu-
rate prediction of ground-cloud toxic haz-
ard corridors. Such accurate prediction also
reduces the launch costs because it leads to
fewer launch holds. A similar measurement
program could be used to tune current and
future dispersion models for the other
heavy launch vehicles, such as the space
shuttle today and the Evolved Expendable
Launch Vehicle in the future. In addition,
routine imagery of launch clouds could
provide real-time range-safety information,
not only for normal launch clouds but also
for the more toxic abort cloud.
Further Reading
R. N. Abernathy, B. Lundblad, and B. Kempf,
“Tracer Puff Dispersion at Launch Sites,” Pro-
ceedings of the JANNAF Propellant Develop-
ment and Characterization and the Safety and
Environmental Protection Joint Meeting. CPIA
Publication 687 (Naval Submarine Base at San
Diego, CA, April 26–30, 1999).
B. L. Lundblad, R. N. Abernathy, and Capt. B.
The Aerospace surveillance technology crew in front of a mobile laboratory.These mobile laboratories, equipped
J. Laine, “Atmospheric Dispersion Model Vali-
with visible and infrared imagery systems, support remote detection and tracking of chemicals, such as those in
dation Program,” Proceedings of the JANNAF
launch abort clouds, bomb detonations, and tracer release experiments. They are deployed at launch and test
Propellant Development and Characterization
ranges throughout the continental United States. Shown in the photo from left to right, beginning with the back
and the Safety and Environmental Protection
row (in doorway): Bruce A. Rockie, Luis J. Ortega, Michael A. Rocha; left center row: Gary N. Harper, Brian P. Kasper,
Joint Meeting, CPIA Publication 674 (NASA
Karl R. Westberg, Jess T. Valero; right center row: Robert N. Abernathy, Kenneth C. Herr, Jeffrey L. Hall, Donald K.
Johnson Space Center, April 21–24, 1998).
Stone; front row: Mark L. Polak, Andrew D. Shearon, J.Thomas Knudtson, Naomi J. Rose, George J. Scherer, Roberta
S. Precious, Karen L. Foster.
In response to an Air Force
request for better weather
forecasting in the Balkans,
Aerospace developed a
higher-resolution cloud-
analysis prototype that
provided more accurate
cloud-cover information in
support of operations in
John S. Bohlson
Leslie O. Belsma
Bruce H. Thomas

Clouds over Yugoslavia and the Adriatic Sea.


The Aerospace Corporation stepped in cal Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites.

arth’s cloud cover frequently
affects the outcome of modern to develop a prototype system that The current model, RealTime Nephanaly-
combat because sophisticated leapfrogged over the planned AFWA sis, known as RTNeph, combines ground-
aircraft (and weaponry such as cloud model upgrade to deliver automated based observations with data from DMSP
laser-guided missiles and night vision cloud-analysis products (such as amount and the Television and Infrared Observa-
sights) do not operate reliably in the pres- of cloud cover or cloud classification) at a tion Satellite (TIROS) of the National
ence of clouds. Knowing the state of the much higher resolution. This prototype Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
cloud cover can determine the success of became the basis for a cloud-analysis sys- to produce worldwide cloud analyses at a
reconnaissance missions, and it is the most tem that was then put into operation in less 48-kilometer resolution. It computes the
critical factor in the accuracy of humani- than 60 days in the spring of 1999 to number of cloud layers, the percentage of
tarian airdrops. To be of value, cloud data improve weather support for the war in cloud coverage, and the height of the base
must be current and accurate, but such Kosovo. The improved resolution allowed and top of each layer on a 48-kilometer
data can be difficult to obtain, especially forecasters to provide more accurate grid. A cloud-forecast model uses the
in areas where access is limited by mili- cloud-cover predictions to the battlespace analyses to produce cloud forecasts at this
tary or political restrictions. planners and pilots. same grid resolution.
Brig. Gen. Fred Lewis, director of Air Cloud-Analysis Model The grid is an array of points superim-
Force Weather, recognized in 1998 a need The Air Force Weather Agency, at Offutt posed on a map of Earth’s surface. Obser-
for improved cloud data to support mili- Air Force Base, Omaha, Nebraska, has vations of clouds are not taken at grid
tary operations in the Balkans. Gen. Lewis used automated cloud-analysis models to points, but at irregularly spaced points.
wanted a cloud-analysis model that could generate quantitative information on Nephanalysis is the process that interpo-
do a better job at analyzing and forecasting clouds since 1970. The earliest AFWA lates cloud data observations to the points
clouds than either the Air Force Weather three-dimensional cloud-analysis model, on the grid. The distance between adjacent
Agency (AFWA) model then in use or the 3-D Neph, used space-based cloud- grid points on the AFWA polar stereo-
even the extensive upgrade under develop- cover imagery from Defense Meteorologi- graphic whole-mesh reference grid is 381
ment at the time. kilometers at 60 degrees latitude. All finer-
Weather and Warfare

The war in Kosovo demonstrated dra-

matically that weather affects every
aspect of battle. The impact of
weather on war has long been recog-
nized. In The Art of War, circa 500 B.C.,
Sun Tzu advised, “Know the ground,
know the weather; your victory will
then be total.” Vice Adm. Scott A. Fry
echoed these words 2,500 years later
when he told reporters during a brief-
ing on Operation Allied Force that the
Serbs had two main allies—geogra-
phy and weather.
• In 480 B.C., storms at sea broke up
the “bridge of boats” across the
Hellespont, turning back the army
of Xerxes, the emperor of Persia,
from its march to invade Greece.
• In 1588 storms off the coasts of
Scotland and Ireland wrecked
many ships of the Spanish Armada
as they retreated after Spain’s
failed invasion of the British Isles.
• In June 1812, Napoleon invaded
Russia with 500,000 men, only to
withdraw five months later in snow
and bitter cold with fewer than
U.S. Air Force drawing of a DMSP Block 5D-2 spacecraft. 10,000 surviving troops.

resolution grids are defined relative to this Because cloud cover data at 64th mesh • During World War II, storms forced
Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower to delay
whole-mesh reference grid. For example, presents much finer detail than data at 8th
the distance between points on an 8th- mesh, data at 64th-mesh is called fine-grid the Normandy invasion one day.
mesh grid is 48 kilometers; on a 16th- data. Data from a lower-resolution grid,
mesh grid, 24 kilometers; and on a such as that based on an 8th mesh, is
64th-mesh grid, only 6 kilometers. called coarse-grid data.

Image of cloud cover over the Balkans, April 15, 1999, Clouds over the Balkans on the same date in a The highest-resolution image of the same area on
generated by the current AFWA low-resolution higher-resolution image generated by the new the same date generated by the Aerospace proto-
cloud-cover-analysis model with grid points 48 kilo- CDFSII cloud-cover analysis model. Grid points are type model, with grid points 6 kilometers apart.
meters apart. 24 kilometers apart.
The AFWA polar stereographic whole-mesh refer- Aerospace cloud-cover analysis prototype image of the Mediterranean area, April 6, 1999. A visual representation
ence grid. The distance between the grid points is of the gridded cloud data (cloud mask) can be used by the weather officer to quickly assess cloud conditions.
381 kilometers at 60 degrees north or south latitude. Tools added to the prototype system enable color-coding of the data to highlight aspects of the cloud mask.

Improved Resolution Enhances • feed the cloud analyses into a single- rithms to improve computing speed. Faster
Forecasting cloud forecast model to deliver short- processing enabled use of DMSP “fine
The Air Force Space and Missile Systems term (12-hour) and long-term (48-hour) mode” data, which is higher resolution
Center is developing the upgrade to forecasts than the DMSP “smooth mode” data used
AFWA’s current cloud-detection and fore- in CDFSII.
Battlespace Weather Forecasting The Aerospace cloud-analysis proto-
cast system. The new system, known as
CDFSII, will increase the resolution of the Although CDFSII will improve forecast- type represents the first quantitative use of
AFWA cloud analyses and forecasts from ing beyond that provided by the current DMSP fine-mode data in a meteorological
an 8th mesh (48-kilometer) grid to a 16th system at AFWA, Gen. Lewis decided that model. Fine data is not available world-
mesh (24-kilometer) grid. Also, by com- an even finer-scale automated cloud- wide, so the prototype model produces the
bining data from multiple weather satel- analysis and forecasting system was 64th-mesh fine grid regionally using the
lites, it will improve cloud detection in needed to support operations, specifically fine data and then combines it with a
stressing conditions such as low clouds the “weather function,” in the Balkans. worldwide analysis at the coarser CDFSII
and fog, thin cirrus clouds, and tropical Under a new centralized support con- grid using DMSP smooth-mode data.
clouds. cept, an Operational Weather Squadron The new model began generating cloud
When completed in December of this was activated in Germany. The Weather analyses as a prototype in January 1999 at
year, the new CDFSII system will Squadron performs the weather function the Aerospace Environmental Application
continuously during the intelligence Center facility at AFWA. The Kosovo con-
• provide a multiple-satellite data-acqui- preparation of battlespace in a series of
sition system that combines the high flict prompted the Air Force to issue a
spatial resolution of DMSP imagery steps that converts weather data into intel- request to put this prototype system, along
with multispectral data from TIROS ligence and communicates it to users. The with high-resolution forecasting capability,
weather officer collates weather informa- into operation within 60 days. Within two
• merge the global coverage of these tion collected throughout the battlespace, weeks of the Air Force request, Aerospace
polar-orbiting systems with the fre-
combines it with weather data received wrote code to post fine-grid cloud data
quent refresh available from an interna-
from weather flight observers and fore- over Kosovo from the prototype system as
tional constellation of geostationary
casters and from higher headquarters, and images on the Air Force Weather Informa-
weather satellites
then generates the weather forecasts. tion network, which provides data to
• perform multiple-satellite-specific cloud The Aerospace Prototype weather forecasters in Europe. Color-cod-
detection using science algorithms
In response to Gen. Lewis’s call for high- ing was added to highlight aspects of the
from SERCAA (Support of Environ-
resolution cloud analyses to better support cloud mask.
mental Requirements for Cloud Analy-
sis and Archives) the Weather Squadron, Aerospace devel- From Laboratory to Battlespace
oped a prototype cloud-analysis model at a Aerospace, AFWA, Atmospheric Environ-
• use clustering techniques to accomplish fine-scale grid, increasing the resolution to mental Research, and Sterling Software
cloud layering and typing and then
6 kilometers (64th mesh) from the 24 kilo- (the CDFSII contractor) worked together
combine these independent satellite
meters planned for the CDFSII system. to develop an operational system based on
cloud data records using an optimal
Aerospace developed the prototype by the Aerospace prototype. The prototype
interpolation scheme
modifying the CDFSII SERCAA algo-
DMSP Cloud Data
Defense Meteorological Satellite Pro-
gram (DMSP) satellites have been pro-
viding worldwide cloud imagery for
national programs since 1966. The Air
Force Weather Agency uses data from
three-dimensional cloud analyses in
developing computer cloud-forecast
models for the military. Data from
DMSP satellites formed the corner-
stone of the Aerospace protoype
cloud model.
The U.S. Air Force has launched
more than 30 DMSP satellites.The con-
stellation includes at least two sun-
Cloud forecast image of the Balkans on April 6, 1999, Cloud forecast image of the Balkans on April 6, 1999, synchronous polar-orbiting satellites
derived from the CDFSII 24-kilometer analysis. derived from the Aerospace prototype 6-kilometer flying at about 800 kilometers above
analysis. Earth, with one satellite orbiting in
had to be ported from the laboratory envi- The team completed the system in less early, and the other in late, morning.
ronment to a 24-hour-a-day operational than 60 days, and Gen. Lewis specifically Unlike other meteorological satel-
capability, expanded to include multispec- commended Aerospace for this support to lites, DMSP provides imagery at the
tral TIROS algorithms, and combined with the nation’s warfighters. The operational edge of its 3000-kilometer swath that
the forecast model. A capability to “tune” implementation of the Aerospace proto- nearly matches the quality of imagery
the algorithms on a regional basis to pro- type cloud model improved weather fore- directly below the satellite. The pri-
duce a better cloud analysis was added. casting for operations across the Balkans mary sensor, the operational line scan,
Tuning is not as critical for the TIROS by providing more accurate cloud-cover collects cloud imagery in a visible and
algorithms because additional channels data to the air tasking, order-planning, and a long-wave-infrared band. The opera-
allow for more cloud-discrimination tests, execution processes. This system is still in tional line scan calibrates, indexes, and
but because DMSP has one visible and use to support regional high-resolution stores the data for transmission. Dur-
one infrared channel, a single-test cloud- cloud forecasting. ing daylight, the fine-mode resolution
detection algorithm that is very sensitive of the visible-band data is 0.62 kilome-
Further Reading ters, and the resolution of the infrared-
to threshold settings is used. Aerospace
R. S. Dudney, “McPeak on the War,” Air Force wavelength data is 2.8 kilometers. Fine
found that using the same thresholds in the Magazine, May 1991, p. 21.
DMSP algorithms for each satellite was data is collected on a regional basis up
inadequate because of differences in D. A. Fulghum, “Pentagon Criticizes Air Strike to a quarter obit. On-board smoothing
on Iraq,” Aviation Week, January 25, 1993, is used to decrease the data rate (and
DMSP smooth- and fine-mode calibration. p. 47.
Fine data typically exhibits a 5-degree therefore resolution) to provide data
Kelvin cold bias, so a bias term was added L. D. Kozaryn, “More Planes, Better Weather for the entire orbit. The operational
Mean More Strikes,” American Forces Press line scan also has a unique capability
to the fine-mode infrared threshold values Service, http://www.defenselink.mil/news/
that greatly improved the fine-grid (64th- that allows it to gather visible-light
May1999/n05261999_9905261.html, March data at night at a 3.5-kilometer resolu-
mesh) results. 2000.
A major task in the transition of the pro- tion with as little as one-quarter-moon
L. D. Kozaryn, “No Silver Bullet to Stop Serb illumination. Additional satellite sen-
totype to an operational forecast system Aggression,” American Forces Press Service,
involved modifying the CDFSII coarse-grid sors measure atmospheric vertical
cloud-forecast model to run at the higher profiles of moisture and temperature
3311999_9903311.html, March 2000.
resolution (6 kilometers). Code was written and a variety of space environmental
M. P. Plonski, G. Gustafson, B. Shaw, B. parameters.
to overwrite the coarse-grid values with fine Thomas, and M. Wonsick, “High Resolution
grid for all grid points touched by one satel- DMSP has proved to be a valuable
Cloud Analysis and Forecast System,” AMS
lite swath of DMSP fine data, which is typ- tool in scheduling and protecting mil-
Satellite Meteorology Conference (Long Beach,
ically an eighth or less of an orbit. The CA, Jan. 2000). itary operations. The last of the Block
forecast model then advected the resulting 5D-2 series of satellites was launched
J. Pulley, “Some War Heroes Have Their Heads
fine-grid cloud analysis with high- April 4, 1997.The Block 5D-3 series, the
in the Clouds,” Air Force Times, April 26, 1999,
resolution winds from an operational p. 12. first of which was launched in Decem-
mesoscale model to produce the cloud ber 1999, accommodate larger sensor
forecast. payloads and feature a larger power
supply, more on-board memory, and
increased battery power that will ex-
tend the life of the satellites from the
current four years to five.
Bookmarks Recent Publications and Patents by the Technical Staff
M. W. Crofton, “Preliminary Mass Spectrom- D. E. Keenan, “High-Altitude Balloon Exper-
(August 1999–March 2000) etry of a Xenon Hollow Cathode,” Journal iment,” AIAA Space Technology Confer-
W. H. Ailor, “Space Traffic: Do We Need of Propulsion and Power, Vol. 16, No. 1, ence (Albuquerque, NM, Sept. 28–30,
Control?” Aerospace America (Nov. 157–159 (1999). 1999).
1999), pp. 34–38. S. V. Didziulis and P. P. Frantz, “Substrate- R. Koga, S. Crain, and K. Crawford, “Single
E. J. Beiting, “Measurements of Stratospher- Dependent Reactiveness of Water on Event Burnout Sensitivity of Embedded
ic Plume Dispersion by Imagery of Solid Metal Carbide Surfaces,” Journal of Phys- Field Effect Transistors,” IEEE Transac-
Rocket Motor Exhaust,” Journal of Geo- ical Chemistry B, Vol. 103, No. 50, tions on Nuclear Science, Vol. 46, No. 6,
physical Research, Vol. 105, No. D5, 11,129–11,140 (Dec. 16, 1999). 1395–1402 (Dec. 1999)
6891–6901 (Mar. 16, 2000). R. P. Frueholz, “Rabi Resonance-Enhanced H. Koons, “The Impact of the Space Environ-
K. D. Bell and D. C. Marvin, “Power Genera- Gain in a Simple V-Type System,” Physi- ment on Space Systems,” Proceedings of
tion and Storage Technology Selection for cal Review A, Vol. 61, No. 2 (2000). Spacecraft Charging Technology Confer-
an Optimal Spacecraft System Design,” R. G. Gist and D. L. Oltrogge, “Collision ence ’98 (Hanscom AFB, MA, Nov. 2–6,
Proceedings of Intersociety Energy Con- Vision: Covariance Modeling and Inter- 1998).
version Engineering Conference (Vancou- section Detection for Spacecraft Situa- H. C. Koons and J. Roeder, “A Comparison of
ver, BC, Aug. 2, 1999). tional Awareness,” Proceedings of ULF/ELF Measurements Associated With
I. D. Boyd, M. W. Crofton, and T. A. Moore, AAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Con- Earthquake Regions,” Seismo Electro-
“Near-Field Measurement and Modeling ference (Girdwood, AL, Aug. 16–19, magnetics Monographs, 171–181 (Aug.
Results for a Flight-Type Arcjet: Hydro- 1999), pp. 1–14. 1999).
gen Atom,” Proceedings of the 26th Inter- R. G. Gist and D. L. Oltrogge, “Collision T. J. Lang, “Characteristics of Crosslinks
national Electric Propulsion Conference Vision: Situational Awareness for Safe Between Satellites in Large Symmetric
(Kitakyushu, Japan, Oct. 17–21, 1999), and Reliable Space Operations,” Proceed- Constellations,” Proceedings of AAS/
pp. 1–8. ings of the 50th International Astronauti- AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Confer-
C. C. Chao, “MEO Disposal Orbit Stability cal Congress (Oct. 4–8, 1999, Amsterdam, ence (Girdwood, AL, Aug. 16–19, 1999).
and Direct Reentry Strategy,” AAS/AIAA The Netherlands). M. Lauriente and R. Koga, et al., “Spacecraft
Space Flight Mechanics Meeting (Clear- D. L. Glackin and G. R. Peltzer, Civil, Com- Anomalies Due to the Radiation Environ-
water, FL, Jan. 23–26, 2000). mercial, and International Remote Sens- ment,” Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets,
D. W. Chen and K. M. Masters, “CW 4.3 µm ing Systems and Geoprocessing (The Vol. 36, No. 6, 902–906 (Nov.–Dec.
Intracavity Difference Frequency Genera- Aerospace Press and AIAA, El Segundo, 1999).
tion in an Optical Parametric Oscillator,” CA, and Reston, VA, 1999). S. Lazar and J. E. Clark, “Signal Design
Proceedings of the OSA Advanced Solid- M. M. Gorlick, “Electric Suspenders: A Fabric Guideline for Navigation Satellite System
State Laser Topical Meeting (Davos, Power Bus and Data Network for Wearable Design,” ION GPS ’99 Proceedings
Switzerland, Feb. 25, 2000). Digital Devices,” Proceedings of Interna- (Nashville, TN, Sept. 17, 1999), pp. 1–8.
M. W. Chen, L. R. Lyons, and M. Schulz, tional Symposium on Wearable Computers C. A. Lee and J. P. Stepanek, “A Network Per-
“Stormtime Ring-Current Formation: A (San Francisco, CA, Oct. 1999). formance Tool for Grid Environments,”
Comparison Between Single-Dip and E. K. Hall and M. Papadopoulos, “GPS Proceedings of Supercomputing ’99 (Port-
Double-Dip,” Journal of Geophysical Structural Modifications for On-Orbit Ser- land, OR, Nov. 13, 1999), pp. 1–16.
Research, Vol. 105, No. 2 (Feb. 2000). vicing,” Proceedings of AIAA Space Tech- Y. Phillip Li, “dClips: A distributed Clips
M. W. Chen, J. L. Rodder, and J. F. Fennell, nology Conference and Exposition Implementation,” Computing in Aero-
“Proton Ring Current Pitch-Angle Distri- (Albuquerque, NM, Sept. 28, 1999), pp. space 9 Conference (San Diego, CA, Oct.
butions: Comparison of Simulations and 1–10. 19–21, 1993).
CRRES Observations,” Journal of Geo- S. W. Janson, “Mass-Producible Silicon M. D. Looper and J. B. Blake, “Continuing
physical Research, Vol. 104, No. A8, Spacecraft for 21st Century Missions,” SAMPEX Observations of Shock-Injected
17,379–17,389 (Aug. 1, 1999). Proceedings of AIAA Space Technology Ultrarelativistic Electrons,” Proceedings
V. A. Chobotov and A. B. Jenkin, “Analysis Conference and Expo (Albuquerque, NM, of XXVI International Cosmic Ray Con-
of the Micrometeoroid and Debris Hazard Sept. 28–30, 1999), pp. 1–10. ference (Salt Lake City, UT, Aug. 17–25,
Posed to an Orbiting Parabolic Mirror,” R. F. Johnson and P. L. Smith, “Projection of 1999).
Proceedings of the 50th International Future Launch Capacity and Demand,” J. Ly and C. Truong, “Stability Analysis of
Astronautical Congress (Amsterdam, The Proceedings of 50th International Astro- the International Space Station Electrical
Netherlands, Oct. 4–8, 1999). nautical Congress (Amsterdam, The Power System,” Proceedings of IEEE
J. H. Clemmons, “Birkeland Currents Associ- Netherlands, Oct. 4–8, 1999), pp. 1–11. Conference on Control Applications
ated With Optical Aurora,” Advances in J. A. Kechichian, “Low-Thrust Trajectory (Kohala Coast, HI, Aug. 22–27, 1999), pp.
Space Research, Vol. 23, No. 10, 1653– Optimization Based on Epoch Eccentric 628-633.
1656 (1999). Longitude Formulation,” Journal of D. K. Lynch, ed., Cirrus (Oxford University
J. H. Clemmons, “Driving Dayside Convec- Spacecraft and Rockets, Vol. 36, No. 4, Press, New York, 2000).
tion Northward IMF: Observations of a 543–553 (July–Aug. 1999). D. K. Lynch, “Some Paradoxes, Errors and
Sounding Rocket Launched from Sval- J. A. Kechichian, “The Optimization of Con- Resolutions Concerning the Spectral Opti-
bard,” Journal of Geophysical Research, tinuous Constant Acceleration Transfer mization of Human Vision,” American
Vol. 105, No. A3, 5245–5263 (Mar. 2000). Trajectories in the Presence of the J2 Per- Journal of Physics, Vol. 67, No. 11, (Nov.
J. H. Clemmons, “Evolution of Mesoscale turbation,” Proceedings of AAS/AIAA 1999).
Auroral Cavities Before Substorm Onset,” Astrodynamics Conference (Girdwood, D. K. Lynch and S. Mazuk, “On the Size
Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 104, AL, Aug. 16–19, 1999), pp. 15–21. Parameter for Thermally Emitting Parti-
No. A8, 17,201–17,215 (Aug. 1, 1999).
cles,” Applied Optics, Vol. 38, No. 24, P. R. Rousseau, “An Algorithm to Reduce Bias
5229-5231 (Aug. 20, 1999). in Planar Near-Field Measurement Data,” (November 1999–April 2000)
D. H. Martin, Communication Satellites, Proceedings of Antenna Measurement J. C. Camparo, “Method of Stabilizing Electro-
fourth edition (The Aerospace Press and Techniques Association 1999 Symposium magnetic Field Strength in an Atomic Sys-
AIAA, El Segundo, CA, and Reston, VA, (Monterey Bay, CA, Oct. 4–8, 1999). tem,” U.S. Patent No. 6,025,755, Feb. 2000.
2000). R. Rudy, R. Puetter, and S. Mazuk, “Paschen C. J. Clark, A. A. Moulthrop, M. S. Muha, C. P.
Lines and the Reddening of the Radio Silva, “Frequency Translating Device
H. Mirels, “Effect of Wall on Impulse of Solid Transmission Response Method,” U.S.
Propellant Driven Millimeter-Scale Galaxy 3C109,” Astronomical Journal, Vol.
118, 666–669 (Aug. 1999). Patent No. 6,041,077, Mar. 2000.
Thrusters,” AIAA Journal, Vol. 37, No. 12,
R. W. Dezelan, “Satellite Communications
1617–1624 (Dec. 1999). R. S. Selesnick and J. B. Blake, “On the
Facilitated by Synchronized Nodal Regres-
J. A. Morgan, “Neutrino Propulsion for Inter- Source Location of Radiation Belt Rela-
sions of Low Earth Orbits,” U.S. Patent No.
stellar Spacecraft,” Journal of the British tivistic Electrons,” Journal of Geophysical 5,999,127, Dec. 1999.
Interplanetary Society, Vol. 52 No. 11/12, Research, Vol. 105, No. A2, 2607–2624
R. B. Dybdal, “Adaptive Control of Multiple
424–428 (Nov./Dec. 1999). (Feb. 1, 2000).
Beam Communication Transponders,” U.S.
T. Mosher, “Evaluating Small Satellites: Is the M. R. Shane, H. G. Yeh, G. L. Lui, and A. H. Patent No. 6,055,431, Apr. 2000.
Risk Worth It?” Proceedings of AIAA/USU Yamada,“Uplink Timing Detection for Fre- R. W. Postma, R. B. Pan, B. T. Hamada, L. K.
Conference on Small Satellites (Logan, UT, quency Hopping Communication,” MIL- Herman, “Flexure Washer Bearing and
Aug. 23, 1999), pp. 1–13. COM ’99 Proceedings (Atlantic City, NJ. Method,” U.S. Patent No. 6,022,178, Feb.
T. M. Nguyen, J. Yoh, and G. Goo, “Perfor- Oct. 31–Nov. 3, 1999), pp. 1–5. 2000.
mance Evaluation of the DVB Waveform E. J. Simburger, D. Smith, D. Gilmore, and M. R. W. Postma, R. B. Pan, B. T. Hamada, L. K.
Using LSI Logic L64724 Satellite Receiver Meshishnek, “Development of a Thin Film Herman, “Roller Washer Bearing and
Model with Imperfect Components,” MIL- Amorphous Silicon Space Solar Cell for Method,” U.S. Patent No. 6,036,422, Mar.
COM ’99 Proceedings (Atlantic City, NJ, the PowerSphere Concept,” Proceedings of 2000.
Oct. 31–Nov. 3, 1999), pp. 1–6. 16th Space Photovoltaic Research and G. Radhakrishnan, “Apparatus for Magnetic
D. P. Olsen, “A Hybrid Interleaving that Technology Conference (Cleveland, OH, Field Pulsed Laser Deposition of Thin
Enables Packet Switching on Multi-access Aug. 31, 1999). Films,” U.S. Patent No. 6,024,851, Feb. 2000.
Channels,” IEEE Transactions on Commu- F. S. Simmons, Rocket Exhaust Plume Phe- K. Siri, “Shared-Bus Current Sharing Parallel
nication, Vol. 47, No. 12, 1777–1780 (Dec. nomenology (The Aerospace Press and Connected Current-Mode DC to DC Convert-
1999). AIAA, El Segundo, CA, and Reston, VA, ers,” U.S. Patent No. 6,009,000, Dec. 1999.
W. Park and M. R. Hilton, “Characterization 2000). D. M. Speckman, “Method of Making Indium
of Cryogenic Mechanical Properties of K. Tsai and G. L. Lui, “Binary GMSK: Char- Oxide Microspheres for Antistatic Coat-
Aluminum-Lithium Alloy C-458,” Scripta acteristics and Performance,” ITC ’99 Pro- ings,” U.S. Patent No. 6,027,673, Feb. 2000.
Materialia, Vol. 41, No. 11, 1185–1190 ceedings (Las Vegas, NV, Oct. 27, 1999). C. C. Wang, “Error-Floor Mitigating Turbo
(Nov. 1999). K. Tsai and G. L. Lui, “Coherent Viterbi and Code Communication Method,” U.S. Patent
Threshold Demodulators for Pulse-Driven No. 6,028,897, Feb. 2000.
G. E. Peterson, Dynamics of Meteor Outbursts
and Satellite Mitigation Strategies (The GMSK Signals,” ITC ’99 Proceedings (Las C. C. Wang, “Repetitive Turbo Coding Com-
Aerospace Press and AIAA, El Segundo, Vegas, NV, Oct. 27, 1999). munication Method,” U.S. Patent No.
CA, and Reston, VA, 1999). C. S. Tsang and T. M. Nguyen, “Long Loop 6,014,411, January 2000.
Time Tracking Performance for Satellite R. P. Welle, “Mechanical Valve Having N-Type
T. D. Powell, “Automated Tuning of an
Communication System,” MILCOM ’99 and P-Type Thermoelectric Elements for
Extended Kalman Filter Using the Down- Heating and Cooling a Fluid Between an
hill Simplex Algorithm,” Proceedings of Proceedings (Atlantic City, NJ, Oct. 31–
Nov. 3, 1999), pp. 1–5. Inlet and an Outlet in a Fluid Pump,” U.S.
AAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Con- Patent No. 6,007,302, Dec. 1999.
ference (Girdwood, AL, Aug. 16–19, C. C. Wang and T. M. Nguyen, “Using Short-
R. P. Welle, “Method of Pumping a Fluid
1999), pp. 1-11. Block Turbo Code for Telemetry and Com- Through a Micromechanical Valve Having
A. Prater, E. Simburger, D. A. Smith, P. J. Car- mand,” 1999 International Telemetering N-Type and P-Type Thermoelectric Ele-
ian, and J. H. Matsumoto, “Power Manage- Conference (Las Vegas, NV, 25–28 Oct. ments for Heating and Cooling a Fluid
ment and Distribution Concept for 1999). Between an Inlet and an Outlet,” U.S.
Microsatellites and Nanosatellites,” Pro- C. C. Wang, “Improving Faded Turbo Code Patent No. 5,975,856, Nov. 1999.
ceedings of the 34th Energy Conversion Performances Using A Biased Channel R. P. Welle, “Ultrasonic Data Communication
Engineering Conference (Vancouver, BC, Side Information,” MILCOM ’99 Proceed- System,” U.S. Patent No. 5,982,297, Nov.
Aug. 2–5, 1999), pp. 1–5. ings (Atlantic City, NJ, Oct. 31–Nov. 3, 1999.
S. Raghavan, S. Lazar, and R. Kumar, “The 1999). R. P. Welle, “Ultrasonic Power Communication
CDMA Limits of C/A Codes in GPS R. L. Walterschied, G. Schubert, and D. G. System,” U.S. Patent No. 6,037,704, Mar.
Applications-Analysis and Laboratory Test Brinkman, “Wave Disturbances in a Model 2000.
Results,” Proceedings of the Satellite Divi- of the Comet SL-9 Impacts into Jupiter’s A. D. Yarbrough, S. S. Osofsky, R. E. Robert-
sion of the Institute of Navigation 12th Atmosphere,” Icarus, Vol. 145, 140–146 son, R. C. Cole, “Micromachined Mono-
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Links Conferences,Workshops, and Symposia Sponsored or Hosted by The Aerospace Corporation

October 3–5, 2000

19th Aerospace Testing Seminar: Balancing the Forces of “Faster,
Better, Cheaper in Aerospace Testing”
Sponsored by The Aerospace Corporation and the Preseminar tutorials (October 2) are
Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology • Handbook for Dynamic Environmental Criteria
The forum will include presentations from industry leaders in • Integration and Test Systems Engineering
testing, instrumentation, and program planning. Also offered • Data Validity Requirements for Your Test Data
will be tutorials and a special panel discussion featuring
• Vacuum Physics and Vacuum Techniques
members of the ongoing Broad Area Review commissioned
by the U.S. Air Force. • Signal Processing
Topics include • Satellite Structural Testing
• Lessons Learned • Thermal Balance and Thermal Vacuum Testing
• Industry Test Practices, Standards, and Processes • Introduction to Modal Analysis and Testing
• Testing Methodologies, Innovations, and Challenges The seminar will be held at the Manhattan Beach Marriott,
• Risk Management 1400 Parkview Ave., Manhattan Beach, CA 90266.
For more information visit www.aero.org/conferences/ats/.
• Integration for “Best Practices”

October 22–25, 2000

MILCOM 2000: 21st-Century Military Communications—Architectures and
Technologies for Information Superiority
Hosted by The Aerospace Corporation and TRW, Inc. • Advanced Communications Standards and Protocols
Sponsored by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, • Advanced Communications Technologies
Inc., IEEE Communications Society, and Armed Forces Com- Topics of the classified sessions are
munications and Electronics Association • Milsatcom to Support Joint Vision 2010
The Military Communications International Symposium offers • Strategic and Tactical Communications Architectures
a diverse program of both classified and unclassified sessions,
• Advanced Techniques and Technologies for Information
guest speakers, panels, and tutorials.
• Information Warfare, Security, Superiority
Topics of the unclassified sessions include
• 21st-Century Communications Architectures Unclassified sessions will be held at the Los Angeles Airport
Marriott, 5855 W. Century Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90045.
• Advanced Commercial Systems for Military Application
Classified sessions will be held at The Aerospace Corporation
• Advanced Communications Networks in El Segundo.
• Advanced Communications Techniques For more information visit www.milcom2000.org.

November 28–December 1, 2000

Risk Management 2000: Lessons for the Millennium
Sponsored by The Aerospace Corporation and the Air Force • Lessons Learned
Space and Missile Systems Center • Comprehensive Areas of Interest (launch vehicles, space-
The goal of this third annual symposium is to stimulate broader craft, ground systems)
interest in risk management at the national level. A tutorial, The Conference will be held at the Hilton McLean Tysons Cor-
Earned Value Risk Management, will be offered the first day. ner, 7920 Jones Branch Dr., McLean, VA 22102.
Discussion topics include For more information visit www.aero.org/conferences/risk/.
• Effective Risk Management Practices
• Application of Tools and Methodologies
The Aerospace Press
Four Decades of Communication Satellites
Donald H. Martin

Communication Satellites, fourth edi- in geostationary orbits; magenta squares,

tion, was published in May by The Aero- satellites in lower orbits.
space Press and the American Institute of Satellite weight is usually stated as dry
Aeronautics and Astronautics. Since the weight without fuel or weight with fuel at
book was first published in 1986, it has the beginning of the satellite’s life in orbit.
become a standard in the chronicles of The latter weight is shown on the first
communication satellites. The fourth edi- graph. The growth in satellite weight
tion has more than doubled in size from accommodates more communications
that first publication, reflecting the phe- equipment, thereby increasing satellite
nomenal growth in communication satel- capacity to respond to the growing market
for satellite services. Also, the mission
lites. The author, Donald H. Martin, here
effectiveness of any given weight has been
presents an analysis of two of the many
increased by technological improvements.
changes in the industry.
These improvements, occurring in small
Communication satellites represent one of increments over the decades, include
the most significant applications of space lighter materials and higher-efficiency Communication Sat-
technology. Almost every year since the solar cells and propulsion. ellites,fourth edition,
early 1960s, a new communication system The weight of most nongeostationary describes commu-
has launched its first satellite. Today, satellites has been restrained by very limited nication satellites
applications reach more than 100 coun- budgets. Only since 1997 have larger non- beginning with the
tries, providing a variety of communica- geostationary satellites been launched for U.S. Army’s Project
tion services to both large and small programs that provide voice communica- SCORE launched in
terminals on land, ships, and aircraft. tions to handheld user terminals. 1958 through satel-
lites now being manufactured. The
During these four decades, advances in Satellite life is limited by three factors:
book focuses on the satellite and its
electronics and satellite technology and an random failures, exhaustion of consum- communication subsystem, but also
expanding market for communication ables, and component wear-out. Design describes some broader aspects of the
satellite services have generated changes life is a requirement related to consum- larger communication system that
in communication satellite design. ables, such as propellant, and to compo- includes the satellite.
Two aspects of this broad scope of nents subject to wear-out, such as rotating Satellite drawings, communication
change—increase in weight and in design mechanical devices. subsystem block diagrams, coverage
life—are shown in the graphs, which are For those programs that have maps, and lists of references augment
based on data from Communication Satel- announced a design or mission life, the the text. An extensive bibliography of
lites, fourth edition. Points on the graphs increase in satellite life, shown on the sec- more than 3,500 entries cites literature
represent all satellite programs described ond graph, is a result of improved technol- on communication satellite systems
and their applications, ground termi-
in the book—whether experimental or ogy; lessons learned in the manufacturing,
nals, transmission methods, spectrum
operational, civil or military, commercial testing, and operation of satellites; and the use, network engineering, satellite
or noncommercial—from all manufactur- ability to build and launch larger satel- hardware, and social, economic, and
ers except those in Russia and China. The lites. Horizontal lines of triangles show legal issues.
points are positioned on the graphs to the increase in common communication Appendixes present information
show the date of the program’s first satellite design lives from 5 to 7 to 10 to about the International Telecommuni-
launch. Blue triangles represent satellites 12 to 15 years. cations Union and the World Trade
Organization in relation to communica-
10000 16 tion satellite systems.A glossary defines
abbreviations and acronyms and pro-
Weight (pounds)

12 vides a table showing frequency bands
Life (years)

6000 used by each satellite system.

8 Information is derived from sources
4000 available to the public by October 30,
4 1999; launch dates are current through
February 2000.
0 0
1962 1972 1982 1992 2002 1962 1972 1982 1992 2002 2000 • 286 pp • ISBN 1-884989-08-X
Launch date Launch date Order from AIAA
Horizontal lines of triangles in the figure show the increase in common communication satellite design lives
800.682.2422 or www.aiaa.org
from 5 to 7 to 10 to 12 to 15 years. (Left) beginning of life of satellite weight. (Right) satellite design life.
Summer 2000 Vol. 1 No. 2

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Jon M. Neff
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Donna J. Born
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