Low-Power Micro Ceilometer

Period of Performance: 02/21/2017 - 11/20/2017

$230K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Physical Optics Corp.
1845 West 205th Street Array
Torrance, CA 90501
Firm POC
Principal Investigator

Abstract

The target network consists of more than 140 active sites spanning nearly all major ecosystem types and climatic regimes on land and collects essential eddy covariance data. While the data collected at these sites provide detailed information about the radiation balance and exchange of trace gases, heat, moisture, and momentum near the surface, they do not provide information about the types of clouds present or macroscale cloud properties such as cloud-base height and cloud fraction. What is needed is a laser-based ceilometer that can be installed at these sites and is capable of quantifying cloud layers and heights for better understanding of atmospheric phenomena and small enough and power-efficient enough to operate at these solar-powered locations. General statement of how this problem or situation is being addressed:To address the need for ceilometers that can be installed at the sites described in the solicitation, a new low-power micro ceilometer is proposed, based on proven micro ceilometer technology developed for another government agency. The proven technology represents the smallest and lowest-power ceilometer available today, and can be readily adapted to increase range in order to easily meet the DOE performance requirements described. What is to be done in Phase I? In Phase I, the current micro ceilometer technology will be modified to enable a new high-range mini ceilometer design that precisely meets (or exceeds) the requirements of this solicitation. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Beyond the benefits to the environmental monitoring application described, customers in other government agencies have also expressed a need for a battery-powered 7 km ceilometer. The proposed device would ideally meet this need, providing additional capability in battlefield applications. Additionally, the availability of a moderate-cost, self-contained ceilometer could have broad use for aviation safety. While major airports all require ceilometers, thousands of smaller local airports and landing strips across the country operate without this capability due to the currently prohibitive cost.