Sigma Space announced the delivery of the complete opto-mechanical system, electronics, and fuselage structure for NASA's first science instrument to be flown in the Global Hawk platform. The instrument, built under the direction of Dr. Matthew McGill from Goddard Space Flight Center, is a lidar designed to provide information on cloud and aerosol properties. It will be applied to atmospheric research, climate change studies, and hurricane surveillance and study. Sigma collaborated with Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems Division for aircraft integration.
"This instrument enables NASA and the Nation to have a unique capability for atmospheric research, particularly as related to cloud-climate feedback and aerosol-cloud interactions. The Global Hawk platform is capable of sustained high-altitude operation, with potential to circumnavigate the globe on a single flight. Because it is unmanned, the Global Hawk can fly longer and can operate in regions currently inaccessible to our airborne platforms, such as southern oceans or Antarctica," said Dr. McGill.
A precursor instrument which has flown extensively in the ER-2 and WB-57 NASA platforms was also built collaboratively by Dr. McGill's group and Sigma Space, and received the Center of Excellence Award from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
"The long-duration flights possible with the Global Hawk platform present unique challenges for science instrumentation. Sigma had the opportunity to apply all its expertise in aerospace instrument engineering in this project. We are grateful to be able to contribute to this unique tool for atmospheric research," said Dr. J. Marcos Sirota, President and CEO of Sigma. He adds, "We are currently working with GSFC also on the first wind lidar for high altitude platforms. Together, these two instruments would provide a singular capability for hurricane path prediction."
For more information on the Global Hawk platform click here.