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SBIR/STTR

14-Decades Calibration in Airborne Detectors for Environmental Science (14DeCADES), Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

The 14-DeCADES SBIR leverages the results of a FY13 spontaneous IRAD to characterize and test (Phase 1) and subsequently design and build (Phase 2) a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) multiwaveband sensor for airborne sensing of ocean color in conditions of very low light. The new instrument will pair ruggedized, miniature photomultiplier tubes with silicon photodetectors to create so-called hybridnamic detectors for use in both radiance and irradiance radiometers, featuring 14 decades of linear dynamic range. The new radiometers will be suitable for making airborne optical measurements of the atmosphere and ocean in low-light regimes wherein high-quality optical data are rarely available. Anticipated uses include improved calibration and validation data collection for next-generation NASA satellite missions emphasizing turbid atmospheres and waters. Basic research uses include nighttime diurnal or polar winter studies (e.g. aerosol optical depth from shadow band irradiance instruments), and other moon-lit measurements including airborne ocean color missions. Phase 1 will leverage a technology readiness level (TRL) 3 prototype, bringing the work to TRL 4 during six months. If the Phase 2 work is successful, the activity will advance the TRL of the new instrument from a value of 3 (based on the IRAD prototype instrument) to a value of 6 over the period of the SBIR Phase 1 and 2. During Phase 1, necessary new fixturing and testing software and protocols will be developed, and a parallel engineering characterization of the IRAD prototype will confirm the instrument architecture. The resulting recommendations from the engineering tests will be used to establish the specifications for a Phase 2 sensor suite, to be proposed at the end of the project as a follow-on activity. More »

Anticipated Benefits

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