Measurements of Cloud Nuclei in the Effluents from Launches of Liquid- and Solid-Fueled Rockets

Edward E. Hindman Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins 80523

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Lawrence F. Radke Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle 98195

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Mark W. Eltgroth Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle 98195

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Abstract

Airborne measurements of cloud nuclei [cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) and ice nuclei (IN)] were made in the stabilized ground clouds resulting from the launches of a liquid-fueled ATLAS/Centaur rocket and a solid-fueled TITAN III rocket. Concentrations of CCN in both types of clouds were greater than ambient values for the ∼2 h duration of the measurements. The initial production of CCN active at 0.5% supersaturation in the ATLAS and TITAN clouds was equivalent to a 20 and 700 s emission, respectively, by the city of Denver, Colorado. Thereafter, the clouds continued to generate CCN at a rate of ∼1 cm−3 s−1. Concentrations of IN in the ATLAS cloud were greater than ambient values for only a short period after launch; the nuclei were probably from entrained launch pad and ground debris. The concentrations of IN in the TITAN cloud were mainly at or below ambient values (possibly due to the presence of high concentrations of HCI) until ∼2 h after launch when they increased substantially above ambient values. Estimates of the IN activity of the ground cloud material have large uncertainties due to unresolved discrepancies with previous laboratory measurements.

Abstract

Airborne measurements of cloud nuclei [cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) and ice nuclei (IN)] were made in the stabilized ground clouds resulting from the launches of a liquid-fueled ATLAS/Centaur rocket and a solid-fueled TITAN III rocket. Concentrations of CCN in both types of clouds were greater than ambient values for the ∼2 h duration of the measurements. The initial production of CCN active at 0.5% supersaturation in the ATLAS and TITAN clouds was equivalent to a 20 and 700 s emission, respectively, by the city of Denver, Colorado. Thereafter, the clouds continued to generate CCN at a rate of ∼1 cm−3 s−1. Concentrations of IN in the ATLAS cloud were greater than ambient values for only a short period after launch; the nuclei were probably from entrained launch pad and ground debris. The concentrations of IN in the TITAN cloud were mainly at or below ambient values (possibly due to the presence of high concentrations of HCI) until ∼2 h after launch when they increased substantially above ambient values. Estimates of the IN activity of the ground cloud material have large uncertainties due to unresolved discrepancies with previous laboratory measurements.

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