S146 Visualization of Atmospheric Moisture to Improve Microwave Observations

Sunday, 22 January 2017
4E (Washington State Convention Center )
Ashante McLeod-Perez, SUNY Oswego Meteorology, Oswego, NY

Astronomical observations from the ground must compete with the Earth’s atmosphere. Desert climate ensures a predominantly dry, stable atmosphere.  Locating observing sites at high altitudes makes lower tropospheric activity negligible.  However, there are periods of transient instability, which can rapidly create poor observing conditions.  POLARBEAR is an experiment mapping the cosmic microwave background across large portions of the sky, which requires a multi-year survey.  Monitoring the atmosphere is essential in increasing observing efficiency.  POLARBEAR will employ a Long Wavelength Infrared camera on the microwave telescope that will monitor water vapor in the atmosphere using a microbolometer which is sensitive between 8-14 micron wavelength.  An optical camera will also be employed alongside the LWIR camera.  Software was created which simultaneously takes pictures of the sky with the IR and optical camera.  The cameras and software were tested under various conditions, with the data then being analyzed in order to statistically quantify patterns in atmospheric moisture. 
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