New Technology Offers Promise of Increasing Accuracy of Long-term Weather Forecasting

Michigan Aerospace Corporation (MAC), an advanced opto-mechanical engineering firm, today announced that it had received a $2.1 million, two-year contract from the University of New Hampshire as part of a larger grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to demonstrate its proprietary ground-based light detection and ranging (LIDAR) system (GroundWinds) for measurement of high altitude winds from a platform looking down on the atmosphere (BalloonWinds). Such global wind measurements will significantly enhance the accuracy of long-term weather forecasts. The success of BalloonWinds will ultimately pave the way for permanent satellite-based systems in the future.

The GroundWinds system is a technologically advanced instrument which is distinguished by its ability to measure atmospheric wind profiles utilizing both the molecular and aerosol components of the scattered return signal. This allows for landmark measurements of both the tropospheric and lower stratospheric winds. GroundWinds systems are currently in operation in New Hampshire and Hawaii. The BalloonWinds system will develop this proven technology for placement on a high altitude balloon platform enabling it to measure winds in the upper stratosphere. At present, four flights of the instrument are planned over 12 months.

MAC is the premier company in the United States for the development of LIDAR wind measurement and related optical systems, and holds patents on several devices that increase the efficiency of these instruments to unprecedented levels. The company manufactures, integrates, assembles, and tests these instruments, whether for ground, aircraft or space applications.