An Airborne APT Weather Satellite Imaging System

James E. Jordan Flight Research Laboratory, National Research Council, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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David L. Marcotte Flight Research Laboratory, National Research Council, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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G. W. K. Moore Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Abstract

This paper describes the development of a novel airborne system that receives a real-time imagery broadcast in the Automatic Picture Transmission (APT) format from polar-orbiting weather satellites. The availability of such real-time imagery allows for the possibility of redirecting an aircraft measurement platform to sample an area of the atmosphere in a timely and spatially meaningful fashion. This technology could also provide pilots with new and potentially important information that could be used to reroute aircraft around weather systems. The authors are not aware of any other airborne APT imaging system that has been documented in the open literature.

The system described in this paper has been used in a number of meteorological field experiments, and imagery obtained during these experiments is presented to illustrate the capabilities of the system.

The most critical element for an airborne system is the antenna due to the conflicting requirements imposed by the wavelength, which is greater than 2 m, and aerodynamic–structural considerations favoring the smallest possible size. The authors describe a low-profile “electrically small” 40-cm-square patch antenna developed for this system that provides excellent gain for elevation angles over 25°.

Corresponding author address: Mr. James E. Jordan, Institute for Aerospace Research, National Research Council, Rm. 233, Bldg. U-61, FRL, Ottawa, ON K1A OR6, Canada.

Email: jim.jordan@nrc.ca

Abstract

This paper describes the development of a novel airborne system that receives a real-time imagery broadcast in the Automatic Picture Transmission (APT) format from polar-orbiting weather satellites. The availability of such real-time imagery allows for the possibility of redirecting an aircraft measurement platform to sample an area of the atmosphere in a timely and spatially meaningful fashion. This technology could also provide pilots with new and potentially important information that could be used to reroute aircraft around weather systems. The authors are not aware of any other airborne APT imaging system that has been documented in the open literature.

The system described in this paper has been used in a number of meteorological field experiments, and imagery obtained during these experiments is presented to illustrate the capabilities of the system.

The most critical element for an airborne system is the antenna due to the conflicting requirements imposed by the wavelength, which is greater than 2 m, and aerodynamic–structural considerations favoring the smallest possible size. The authors describe a low-profile “electrically small” 40-cm-square patch antenna developed for this system that provides excellent gain for elevation angles over 25°.

Corresponding author address: Mr. James E. Jordan, Institute for Aerospace Research, National Research Council, Rm. 233, Bldg. U-61, FRL, Ottawa, ON K1A OR6, Canada.

Email: jim.jordan@nrc.ca

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