The operational DMSP F18 SSULI UV Sensor

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Monday, 18 January 2010
Patrick Dandenault, NRL, Washington, DC; and A. C. Nicholas, C. Coker, S. A. Budzien, D. H. Chua, T. T. Finne, C. A. Metzler, and K. F. Dymond

The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has developed five ultraviolet remote sensing instruments for the Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). These instruments known as SSULI (Special Sensor Ultraviolet Limb Imager) are on the DMSP block of 5D3 satellites, which first launched in 2003. The DMSP satellites are launched in a near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of approximately 830 km. SSULI measures vertical profiles of the natural airglow radiation from atoms, molecules and ions in the upper atmosphere and ionosphere by viewing the earth's limb at a tangent altitude of approximately 50 km to 750 km. Limb observations are made from the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) to the far ultraviolet (FUV) over the wavelength range of 80 nm to 170 nm, with 1.8 nm resolution. An extensive operational data processing system, the SSULI Ground Data Analysis Software (GDAS), has been developed to generate environmental data products from SSULI spectral data in near-real time for use at the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA). The operational software uses advanced science algorithms developed at NRL and was designed to calibrate data from USAF Raw Sensor Data Records (RSDR) and generate Environmental Data Records (EDRs). Data products from SSULI observations include vertical profiles of electron (Ne) densities, N2, O2, O, O+, Temperature and also vertical Total Electron Content (TEC). On October 18, 2009, the third SSULI sensor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, aboard the DMSP F18 spacecraft. An overview of the SSULI operational program and the status of the F18 sensor will be discussed.