An affordable technology designed to facilitate extensive global atmospheric aerosol measurements has been developed. This lightweight instrument is compatible with newly developed platforms such as tethered balloons, blimps, kites, and even disposable instruments such as dropsondes.

This technology is based on detection of light scattered by aerosol particles where an optical layout is used to enhance the performance of the laboratory prototype instrument, which allows detection of smaller aerosol particles and improves the accuracy of aerosol particle size measurement.

It has been determined that using focused illumination geometry without any apertures is advantageous over using the originally proposed collimated beam/slit geometry (that is supposed to produce uniform illumination over the beam cross-section). The illumination source is used more efficiently, which allows detection of smaller aerosol particles. Second, the obtained integral scattered light intensity measured for the particle can be corrected for the beam intensity profile inhomogeneity based on the measured beam intensity profile and measured particle location. The particle location (coordinates) in the illuminated sample volume is determined based on the information contained in the image frame. The procedure considerably improves the accuracy of determination of the aerosol particle size.

This work was done by Andrei Vakhtin of Vista Photonics and Lev Krasnoperov of New Jersey Institute of Technology for Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-15879-1