AAS 199th meeting, Washington, DC, January 2002
Session 145. Astronomical Instruments and Analytical Tools
Oral, Thursday, January 10, 2002, 10:00-11:30am, Georgetown West

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[145.06] A Thermal Infrared Cloud Mapper

A. Mallama (Raytheon ITSS), J.J. Degnan (NASA/GSFC)

A thermal infrared imager for mapping the changing cloud cover over a ground based observing site has been developed. There are two main components to our instrument. One is a commercially made uncooled 10 micron thermal infrared detector that outputs a 120x120 pixel thermogram. The other is a convex electroplated reflector, which is situated beneath the detector and in its field of view. The resulting image covers the sky from zenith down to about 10 degrees elevation. The self-reflection of the camera and supporting vanes is removed by interpolation.

Atmospheric transparency is distinguished by the difference between the sky temperature and the ambient air temperature. Clear sky is indicated by pixels having a difference of about 20 degrees C or more. The qualitative results 'clear, haze and cloud' have proven to be very reliable during two years of development and testing. Quantitative information, such as the extinction coefficient, is also available though it is not exact. The uncertainty is probably due to variability of the lapse rate under different atmospheric conditions.

Software has been written for PC/DOS and VME/LynxOS (similar to Linux) systems in the C programming language. Functionality includes serial communication with the detector, analysis of the thermogram, mapping of cloud cover, data display, and file I/O.

The main elements of cost in this system were for the thermal infrared detector and for the machining of an 18-inch diameter stainless steel mandrel. The latter is needed to produce an electroplated reflector. We have had good success with the gold and rhodium reflectors that have been generated. The reflectors themselves are relatively inexpensive now that the mandrel is available.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://cddisa.gsfc.nasa.gov/920_3/slr2000/skycamera.html. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: anthony_mallama@raytheon.com

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