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The next generation Airborne Visible and Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS-ng) had a successful week of flights on the King Air for the California Methane Survey.   There were flights in the LA Basin, the Inland Deserts, and the San Joaquin Valley.    During the collection of one of the methane lines over the Ballona Wetlands on September 15, a team from SpaceX deployed parts to simulate debris from the Falcon 9 explosion.   The AVIRIS-ng team coordinated the collection with SpaceX team fieldwork.   On September 16, the parts were brought to JPL for a second collection in the Hahamonga Watershed Park/  The SpaceX Falcon 9 parts are now in the AVIRIS lab in 171 for measuring laboratory spectra of the parts.   Analysis of the data is ongoing.   


What a difference a week makes.  The weather has started to cooperate and we have now covered four of the nine flight areas.  In addition, we also have concurrent measurements over both in-water calibration sites:  Lizard Island and Heron Island.

Science Team: 

The science team began the in-water validation at Heron Island on September 17 at approximately 8:00 am.  Cloud and water conditions were optimal. The benthic cover team visited seven (7) sites and the optics team five (5) sites of varying coral reef condition (i.e., sand, algae, and coral). The optics team also visited one (1) site in optically deep waters.  The reef metabolism team deployed their Lagrangian (upstream and downstream) instrumentation, which will remain in this location for several days.  The benthic cover and optics team continue to sample a variety of coral reef conditions, and the reef metabolism team began their gradient flux approach.

In the image below, the optics team shows the six (6) science sites where optical measurements were taken as the Tempus Gulfstream IV, with JPL’s Portable Remote Sensing Imaging Spectrometer (PRISM) on board, was flying overhead.

With the successful completion of the September 17 PRISM matchup on Heron Island, the science teams (benthic cover, optics, and reef metabolism) continued to sample a variety of coral reef conditions on September 18 and 19.  Skies were overcast, but water conditions were generally good.

On September 18, the benthic cover team visited seven (7) sites, three (3) in the reef flat and four (4) on the lower and upper reef slope. The optics team conducted an Inherent Optical Properties (IOP) sensitivity study during a tidal cycle on the northern end of Heron Island. The metabolism team set-up instrumentation for gradient flux measurements near the Lagrangian transect deployed on September 17 in the lagoon.

On September 19, the benthic cover team visited three (3) sites on the upper and lower reef slope (the number of sites visited was limited due to the boat being reserved in the morning by another group at the research station). The optics team conducted a second IOP sensitivity study during a tidal cycle on the southern end of Heron Island. The metabolism team set-up a second set of gradient flux measurements near the Lagrangian transect. Stacy Peltier and Yvonne Sawall, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), received a tutorial from Stuart Phinn and Chris Roelfsema, University of Queensland, on their hand-held Analytical Spectral Devices (ASD) field spectrometer, which will be loaned to the CORAL benthic cover team for the remainder of the Heron Island field campaign (September 20 - 23).

Aircraft Flight Team:  On September 15, the flight team flew to and collected data over the Mackay region (~4.5-hour flight), collecting 13 lines. 

On September 17, the flight team (Diaz, Nolte, and Bender) flew to and collected data over the Heron Island and the Gladstone region (~5.8-hour flight), collecting 17 lines.  The Heron Island data lines were particularly cloud free.

On September 19, the flight team (Diaz, Nolte, and Bender) flew to and collected data over the North Coral Sea (~5.1 hour flight), collecting 16 of 22 lines.  The early lines were particularly cloud free, but conditions degraded as the morning wore on.


OMG’s AXCTD mission in the last 5 days has flown 24 hours, and dropped 44 AXCTD probes.

Bathymetry element:  Last week, Terasond (OMG Bathymetry contractor) surveyed 640 nautical miles of Greenland’s Eastern science area


The L-band UAVSAR has been directed to support a Space X request to locate Falcon 9 debris in Florida. Following a successful engineering flight on September 20, the Armstrong G-III flew to the Cape on September 21. The L-band UAVSAR is taking airborne measurements in areas specified by Space X and will return to California on September 23. 


The ER-2 and the P-3 performed three coordinated science flights on September 16, 18, and 20. Multiple transects under, within, and above the distinct layers of low clouds and elevated biomass burning aerosols (i.e. soot) above the Atlantic were observed with both aircrafts to study their properties along spatial gradients. 

AirMSPI quicklook images (RGB on the left, Degree of Polarization (DOLP) on the right) from Sunday Sept. 18's ORACLES flight. The DOLP image indicates the different physical properties of two distinct cloud layers.


The next generation Airborne Visible and Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS-ng) has been collecting data for the California Methane Survey.  There have been flights over targets in the Southern California region and the San Joaquin Valley.   A real time detection algorithm has been deployed on the flight computer for identifying the concentration of methane plumes.   The flights will continue in CA through October 12, at which point the AVIRIS-ng and the King Air will deploy to New Orleans for flights on the gulf coast with UAVSAR and the ASO. 


Aircraft Team:  Friday, September 9 marked the first successful CORAL science data collection day for PRISM on board the Tempus Gulfstream IV!


The ER-2 and the P-3 performed three coordinated science flights on September 10, 12, and 14.  Amongst many other instruments were JPL’s AirMSPI onboard the ER-2 and APR-3 on the P-3.  Initial qualitative data analysis shows a distinct smoke layer embedded between the low marine stratocumulus cloud layer and mid-level convective cumulus clouds. A few high cirrus clouds were observed as well. One AirMSPI data acquisition was performed above the P-3 observing the solar radiance field above, within, and below the aerosol layer over one of the rare cloud-free Atlantic Ocean areas. Many of the main ORACLES observing goals could therefore be achieved early in the deployment.

AirMSPI quick look from September 10 of nadir looking data showing an RGB image of the complex atmospheric structure with a smoke layer between low and mid-level cloud layers.

AirMSPI quick look from September 10 showing the full range of viewing angles from 65 degrees forward to 65 degrees backward along the vertical image axis, which represents the flight direction (nadir is in the middle of the image). The DOLP image in the right shows polarization information in three spectral bands. A vertical cut through the center is shown on the far right to illustrate the spectral dependence of the polarization information, which is used in the retrieval of cloud microphysical properties.


The Ka-band single-pass interferometer aboard the AFRC C-20A jet is on its Western US glacier survey deployment (PI: Andrew Fountain). So far we have completed observations over glaciers in Sierra Nevada (California) and the Cascades in Oregon and Washington State. 


All FOUR legs of the SMAPVEX-16 campaign were successfully completed.  August 16 was the end of a second two-week campaign undertaken in Iowa. With this flight, the PALS 

instrument has flown nearly 27 flights for SMAPVEX-16 – more than any previous SMAPVEX campaign. The campaigns were spread over a period of three months and two Cal/Val sites in Carman, Manitoba and Ames, IA.

Summary of the 2nd Iowan campaign:  We flew a total of six site overpass flights over Ames, IA with a calibration maneuver over the Mississippi after every flight. There were no flight-scrubs. There was nearly a week’s gap between the first three flights and last three flights due to overpass schedules and optimal ground conditions.