Atmospheric Icing Sensors
Glenn Research Center
Cleveland, OH 

NASA’s Glenn Research Center scientists are sending up weather balloons to read weather data and validate the agency’s ground-based sensors. The launch will provide better detection of potential icing hazards around the nation’s airports.

Caption: NASA Glenn researcher Michael King (left) and assistant Dan Gorman launch a weather balloon, which carries an instrument package to measure the amount of supercooled liquid water in the atmosphere. (Image Credit: NASA)

The instruments on the weather balloons measure pressure, temperature, humidity, and supercooled liquid water content. Supercooled liquid water freezes on impact with aircraft, creating a potentially serious safety hazard. Detecting hazardous icing conditions in advance will help pilots, air traffic controllers, and airline dispatchers navigate airplanes and passengers away from danger.

Glenn’s ground-based station includes Ka-band cloud radar, which reads particle density distribution. The station’s multi-frequency microwave radiometer also measures liquid water and provides vertical temperature and water vapor profiles. A ceilometer supports refined cloud base analysis.

The balloon campaign is part of an ongoing effort by the center’s icing re - searchers to field-test and develop products for disseminating ic - ing hazard information to flight crews. An experimental Web-based system, currently available only to researchers, provides real-time, raw sensor data and a profile of conditions.

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