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ALIAS-II Instrument

Airborne 2-Channel Laser Infrared Absorption Spectrometer

The Airborne Laser Infrared Absorption Spectrometer (ALIAS-II) is a very high resolution scanning tunable diode laser spectrometer which makes direct, simultaneous measurements of selectable combinations of HCl, NO2, CO, CO2, CH4, and N2O at sub-part-per-billion levels over a 3-30 second integration time. The measurement technique is based upon using tunable lead-salt and/or quantum cascade lasers operating from 3.4 to 8 microns wavelength scanning over absorption lines at 10 Hz recording second harmonic spectra. The instrument features an open-cradle multipass Herriott absorption cell with 15.24-cm diameter spherical zerodur mirrors coated with gold on chrome. The separation between the mirrors is adjustable allowing for a relatively small cell (0.75-m to 1.5-m) to contain an optical path length up to 120-m, depending on the spacing of the mirrors. Lasers and detectors are contained in a lightweight aluminum liquid nitrogen Dewar which can achieve a 28-hour hold time with only a 2 liter charge of liquid nitrogen. The instrument features custom laser current drives, signal chains, InSb detectors and preamps, 16-bit signal averager, analog signal conditioner, and digital I/O which are controlled by an onboard Pentium processor. Data is written to a ruggedized 2-Gb hard disk every 30 seconds and simultaneously transmitted via telemetry to ground station computers which provide backup storage of the data. The instrument weighs 36 kg and requires <56 watts for operation. Additional power up to 250 watts is available for structural heaters and current draw varies with atmospheric conditions.

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