Second Conference on Meteorological Applications of Lightning Data


Real-time data monitoring and payload control for atmospheric research

Douglas Mach, Univ. of Alabama, Huntsville, AL; and R. Blakeslee, M. Bateman, J. Bailey, J. M. Hall, L. Freudinger, S. Yarbough, and C. Sorensen

We have built a system for real-time data monitoring and payload control for use in atmospheric research. The system, successfully demonstrated during the Tropical Cloud System and Processes (TCSP) experiment in July 2005, integrates innovative aircraft payload and communications components with ground-based applications. The ground-based applications consisting of both a Ground Control Application and a java-based Mission Monitor Display program linked via internet to radar, satellite, lightning, and the aircraft data. An Iridium-based satellite phone link provided the connection to our Lightning Instrument Package (LIP) on the aircraft. The LIP consists of 7 rotating vane type electric field sensors and a two channel conductivity probe along with a central computer to record and monitor the instruments. This integrated system allows any researcher using the Java application to track aircraft position and status along with real-time radar, lightning, and satellite data. The program can ingest image data from almost any source and use it as an underlay for the aircraft track and status data. We plotted the location and altitude of a NASA ER-2 aircraft during the Tropical Cloud System Project (TCSP) in real-time over the most recent satellite data (local radar data was not available) and Costa Rican lightning data and the Vaisala long range lightning data. This information allowed the flight directors to vector the ER-2 aircraft toward the intended targets and provide escape vectors needed. The ground station was capable of plotting several aircraft tracks and at times we would also track a NOAA P-3 aircraft when its position was available. The combination of satellite data, aircraft position, and electric field data provided vital guidance during the overflights of hurricanes Dennis and Emily as well as overflights of non-hurricane convective regions. In addition, the real-time link with the aircraft using the Ground Control Application also allowed us to monitor, command, and in some cases, fix our instrumentation and data collection system on the aircraft in real-time. The satellite link system provided a 2400 baud data rate to and from the ground station which we used to monitor and control our LIP package from the ground.

Poster Session 2, Observational fusion and application of lightning data in the earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 9:45 AM-11:00 AM, Exhibit Hall A2

Previous paper  

Browse or search entire meeting

AMS Home Page