Frontiers in Aerosols, Clouds, and Precipitation - The use of Small Satellites on the Measurement of Aerosol, Cloud and Surface Properties from Space

Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences
4 pm on Thursday, October 8, 2020
Vanderlei Martins
Earth and Space Institute - UMBC


Recent advances in small satellite platforms from CubeSats (the size of a loaf of bread), to satellites on the size range of a small refrigerator are allowing for impressive breakthroughs on the monitoring of the Earth System. The most diverse payloads varying from active RADARS and LIDARS to imagers and polarimeters, covering spectral ranges from UV to microwave, are now being miniaturized and optimized for low power/small footprint configurations to fit in the smallest platforms. In particular, the monitoring of clouds and aerosols by passive sensors, require a combination between wavelengths ranging from UV to TIR with relatively high resolution, which in the past has only been achieved by large sensors and enormous satellite platforms. Recent advances in imaging detectors, data processing electronics, and optics are now granting the miniaturization of advanced payloads to the level that a whole new array of science applications are possible with Small Satellites. Another benefit from the Small Satellites and miniaturized payloads is the lower cost of their development and launch. Thanks to this lower cost, we can now consider constellations with multiple sensor and platforms that were unthinkable in the past. To exemplify this context, we will discuss in this presentation an example of a proposed constellation of Small Satellites for the measurement of aerosol and cloud properties on Earth’s atmosphere. This concept illustrates the benefits of using multiple platforms for such measurements, as well as the capabilities of miniaturized sensors to measure cloud and aerosol microphysical properties from the ultraviolet to thermal infrared wavelengths, as well as multi-angle polarized observations. Results from aircraft measurements will be presented to illustrate the data expected from this proposed mission concept, including a demonstration of the retrieval of the vertical profile of cloud droplet sizes and thermodynamic phase of convective clouds. As part of the proposed constellation, the aerosol context will be characterized with a multi-angle imaging polarimeter demonstrated with current results from the AirHARP airborne sensor as well as with the first results from the HARP (HyperAngular Rainbow Polarimeter) Cubesat satellite that is current in space collecting data from Aerosol and Cloud particles from an orbit similar to that of the International Space Station (ISS).



Dr. Vanderlei Martins is a professor in the Department of Physics and Joint Center for Earth System and System and Technology (JCET) at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Prof. Martins got his Ph.D. degree in physics from the University of Sao Paulo in 1999 and has focused on the research in aerosols, clouds, and precipitation for more than 20 years. Prof Martins research involved in several aspects of the aerosols, clouds, and precipitation topic, including (1) the microphysical measurement of the aerosol particles; (2) the development of new instrumentation and algorithms for laboratory and field measurements from the ground, mountain top, aircraft, and satellite sensors; and (3) the modeling of the radiative properties of aerosol and cloud particles. Dr. Martins's research team has performed field/aircraft measurements in several countries and Continents. His excellent accomplishments have been well recognized by both US and the international scientific community.