The Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) is an instrument on the Cassini spacecraft, now orbiting Saturn. CIRS records infrared spectra of Saturn, its satellites, and its rings. The CIRS scientific team studies the temperature structure, dynamics, and composition of the atmosphere of Saturn and Titan. The team also studies the thermal structure of Saturn's rings, and the nature of warm structures on icy satellites such as Enceladus. CIRS is sensitive to wavelengths from 7 to 1000 micrometers, using several different detectors. The full CIRS scientific team is international in scope, with co-investigators located in the U.S., England, France, Germany, and Italy. Michael Flasar of Goddard's Planetary Systems Laboratory is the Principal Investigator.
The New Horizons spacecraft, launched on January 19, 2006 from the Kennedy Space Center on an Atlas V rocket, quickly became the fastest spacecraft to reach the moon as it headed out into the solar system on its journey to Pluto and then beyond to the Kuiper Belt. On Feb. 28, 2007, New Horizons had a close flyby of Jupiter, using the giant planet for a gravity assist. Personnel in Goddard's Planetary Systems Laboratory were involved in the planning and analysis of science observations of Jupiter using the New Horizons cameras, and also the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA's IRTF, in support of the flyby. More recently, New Horizons passed Saturn's orbit on June 8, 2008 (too distant for a gravity assist or observations) and is now en route to a Pluto encounter in July 2015.
Goddard's Heterodyne Instrument for Planetary Wind And Composition (HIPWAC) is used at ground-based facilities, often at the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan Subaru Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii. With HIPWAC, scientists probe planetary atmospheres for chemical and dynamical information at exceptionally high spectral resolution. HIPWAC has made valuable observations of a variety of solar system bodies, including Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Titan, Neptune, and Venus.
The Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) is collecting data to determine the composition and structure of positive ions and neutral particles in the upper atmosphere of Titan and the magnetosphere of Saturn. It is also measuring the positive ion and neutral environments of Saturn's rings and icy moons.
The Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer (GRNS) is an instrument aboard the MESSENGER spacecraft, a NASA mission to conduct the first orbital study of Mercury. The purpose of the GRNS is to provide information about the elements that make up Mercury's surface crust. More exactly, it will provide information about the uppermost tens of centimeters of the crust. This instrument measures the numbers and energies of gamma rays and neutrons that reach the MESSENGER probe as it passes near the planet.
VAPoR (Volatile Analysis by Pyrolysis of Regolith)
is a study to develop a miniature version of the Sample Analysis at
Mars (SAM) instrument that is flying on the
2009 Mars Science Laboratory (MSL). The suitcase-size instrument is intended to investigate the volatile
content of lunar regolith, determine the abundance
of water and other volatiles, and help to
establish their origin (terrestrial, lunar, solar, or
The URAP experiment provides electric field measurements from "DC" to 1 MHz and magnetic field measurements from 0.22 to 450 Hz. These bandwidths permit the study of radio emissions from solar ejecta, interplanetary transients, and planetary magnetospheres and of in situ plasma waves associated with interplanetary shocks, coronal mass ejections, and other transients. The radio observations provide an important remote diagnostic of solar flares and shocks. The plasma wave observations are critical to the understanding of instabilities that exist throughout the interplanetary medium (IPM). Furthermore, analyses of the URAP data permit deriving fundamental characteristics of the solar wind, such as electron density and temperature.
The long-term goal of this activity is to demonstrate the feasibility of a laser sounder instrument capable of measuring the surface-pressure field for the entire air column from satellite-to-ground with global coverage. The earth's surface pressure is a vital component of a variety of important scientific measurements, which are being undertaken at Goddard. Accurate knowledge of the surface pressure can enable calibration of 2-D measurements of CO2 content in the atmosphere and greatly improve the fidelity of surface water redistribution measurements from time-varying gravity fields. It is also important in weather prediction and atmospheric modeling.
The Cloud Physics Lidar (CPL) is a backscatter lidar designed to operate simultaneously at three wavelengths: 1064, 532, and 355 nm. The purpose of the CPL is to provide multi-wavelength measurements of cirrus, subvisual cirrus, and aerosols with high temporal and spatial resolution. From the fundamental measurement, various data products are derived, including: time-height cross-section images; cloud and aerosol layer boundaries; optical depth for clouds, aerosol layers, and planetary boundary layer (PBL); and extinction profiles.
The CO2 Boundary Layer Profiler is a ground-based prototype Differential Absorption Lidar. DIAL's measurement technique uses the change in signal strength between a wavelength strongly absorbed by CO2 and one not absorbed at all to make range resolved measurements of CO2.
Surface deformation is linked directly to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and landslides. Observations of surface deformation are used to forecast the likelihood of earthquakes occurring as a function of location, as well as predicting both the place and time that volcanic eruptions and landslides are likely. Advances in earthquake science leading to improved time-dependent probabilities would be significantly facilitated by global observations of surface deformation, and could result in significant increases in the health and safety of the public due to decreased exposure to tectonic hazards. Monitoring surface deformation is also important for improving the safety and efficiency of extraction of hydrocarbons, for managing our ground water resources, and, in the future, providing information for managing CO2 sequestration.
GLAS (the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System) is the first laser-ranging (lidar) instrument for continuous global observations of Earth. From aboard the Ice Cloud and Elevation Satellite (ICESat) spacecraft, it makes unique atmospheric observations, including measuring ice-sheet topography, cloud and atmospheric properties, and the height and thickness of radiatively important cloud layers needed for accurate short term climate and weather prediction.
Fiber lasers and fiber-amplifiers are truly an enabling technology for NASA's space flight remote sensing applications. Fiber lasers and fiber-amplifiers are light, compact and efficient, however work is still required on power-scaling and pulse-energies for NASA-specific applications, such as altimetry and atmospheric spectroscopy. Fiber lasers and amplifiers offer numerous advantages for both near-term and future deployment on instruments on Earth Science Remote Sensing orbiting satellites.
The Laser Remote Sensing Laboratory at NASA's GOddard Space flight Center is developing near-infrared photon-counting detectors for the CO2 sounders on ASCENDS and for multi-beam swath mapping laser altimeters for the Lidar Surface Topography (LIST) mission.
NASA's Laser Vegetation Imaging Sensor( Land, Vegetation, and Ice Sensor) or LVIS, is a scanning laser altimeter instrument that is flown, by aircraft, over target areas to collect data on surface topography and vegetation coverage. The LVIS, which also includes data from an integrated inertial navigation system (INS) and global positioning system (GPS), is designed, developed and operated by the Laser Remote Sensing Laboratory, at Goddard Space Flight Center.
The Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) will provide a precise global lunar topographic model and geodetic grid that will serve as the foundation of essential lunar understanding. This will aid future missions by providing topographical data for safe landings and enhance exploration-driven mobility on the Moon. LOLA will also contribute to decisions as to where to explore by looking at the evolution of the surface.
The objective of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Laser Ranging (LR) system is to enable the spacecraft to achieve its precision orbit determination requirement. The LR will make one-way range measurements via laser pulse time-of-flight from Earth to LRO, and will determine the position of the spacecraft at a sub-meter level with respect to Earth and the center of mass of the Moon. Ranging will occur whenever LRO is visible in the line of sight from participating Earth ground tracking stations.
In its role as an archive of SLR data, the CDDIS is supporting the laser ranging experiment to the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) instrument on-board the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). This experiment uses one-way range measurements to the LOLA instrument from select laser ranging stations in the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS, http://ilrs.gsfc.nasa.gov) network to determine the satellite's position at sub-meter levels with respect to Earth and the center of the Moon.
MLA is one of the primary instruments on NASA's MESSENGER (Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging) Project. MLA's function is to create topographic maps of Mercury that will help characterize the geologic history of the planet. The MESSENGER is the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury; the solar system's most unexplored planet.
The mini-LHR is a suitcase-sized instrument that measures greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Targeted gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), carbon monoxide (CO), and nitrous oxide (N2O), as well as oxygen (O2) for a measure of atmospheric pressure. These low-cost instruments will ultimately form a global network of ground sensors that can provide column concentrations as well as altitude profiles.
The MMLA is a proof-of-concept instrument designed to demonstrate the application of a patented single photoelectron level laser ranging method, developed by GSFC's SLR program, to imaging laser altimetry. This ranging method treats all photon events, both random background noise and signal, as potentially valid during the acquisition phase.
SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) is a suite of instruments onboard NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity. SAM, along with Curiosity's other scientific instruments and tools, will investigate the past and present ability of Mars to support life.
Haris Risis leads this effort to develop active laser instrumentation that is capable of sensitive remote measurements of atmospheric trace gases from planetary orbit. Such laser-based instrumentation can provide
unprecedented information on planetary atmospheric
composition, chemistry and evolution.