Strategic Goal 5: Provide World-Class Ground, Airborne, and Space-Borne Observational Facilities and Services

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Observations of our atmosphere, Earth system, and Sun are the basis for many scientific discoveries. The ability to make these observations is fundamental to meeting the science goals of NCAR and the community we serve.

On behalf of NSF, NCAR develops and deploys world-class ground, airborne, and spaceborne observational facilities and services that range from technical assistance on instrument deployment to the organization of field campaigns with hundreds of participants and multiple locations.

We operate the exciting NSF-owned High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER), a Gulfstream V (GV) and the world's most advanced research aircraft, along with the NSF/NCAR C-130 and a suite of airborne radars, lidars, and radiometers. Surface-based systems include several mobile radars, an eye-safe lidar, and a wide variety of in situ instruments. We operate the Mauna Loa Solar Observatory, which includes a coronagraph, polarimeter, and photometer, and we have polarimeters and a telescope at the National Solar Observatory in New Mexico.

NCAR priorities in this area include:

Priority 1: Enabling Innovative Field Experiments and Measurement Campaigns

The accuracy, robustness, and performance of weather, climate, and chemistry models depend on sound theory and accurate measurements. NCAR leadership in the area of field program planning and implementation is considered a critical service to the community... Read more about this priority

Virtual Operations Center

Priority 2: Developing New Instrumentation

NCAR is tasked with developing a new generation of robust, inexpensive, easily deployable, and versatile instruments to address observational requirements for weather, climate, water cycle, chemistry and dynamics of the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere, space weather, solar models, and the biogeosciences... Read more about this priority


Radar Development and Enhancement

Instrument Development at Mauna Loa Solar Observatory

Priority 3: Installing Initial Instrument Suite and Beginning Operations of the NSF/NCAR HIAPER Aircraft

The year 2006 heralded the debut of nation's most advanced research aircraft, the NSF/NCAR GV. This cutting edge observational platform will meet the scientific needs of many disciplines and user communities... Read more about this priority

Installing the Initial Instrument Suite and Beginning Operations for the NSF/NCAR Gulfstream-V (GV)