NRL Sensor Observes First Light


12/2/2009 - 125-09r
Contact: Daniel Parry, (202) 767-2541


The Special Sensor Ultraviolet Limb Imager (SSULI) developed by NRL's Spacecraft Engineering Department and Space Science Division, launched October 18, 2009 on the U.S. Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) F18 (flight 18) satellite, observed first light on December 1, 2009.

Figure 1. First light limb scan from the SSULI 002 instrument on DMSP F18. The x-axis represents wavelength, the y-axis is altitude and the color represents accumulated counts in 1 second.
Source: Naval Research Laboratory

In a sample airglow profile (Figure 1) the spectral emission features in the data are clean and show no anomalies.

"The SSULI team is very excited to continue with early orbit testing and begin the calibration and validation process with this instrument," said Andrew Nicholas, SSULI principal investigator, NRL Space Science Division.

Offering global observations, that yield near real-time altitude profiles of the ionosphere and neutral atmosphere, over an extended period of time, SSULI makes measurements from the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) to the far ultraviolet (FUV) over the wavelength range of 80 nanometers (nm) to 170 nm with 1.5 nm resolution.

SSULI data products, once calibrated and validated, will be used operationally at the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA) as standalone operational data products and also as inputs into operational Space Weather models.



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The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory is the Navy's full-spectrum corporate laboratory, conducting a broadly based multidisciplinary program of scientific research and advanced technological development. The Laboratory, with a total complement of approximately 2,500 personnel, is located in southwest Washington, D.C., with other major sites at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Monterey, Calif. NRL has served the Navy and the nation for over 90 years and continues to meet the complex technological challenges of today's world. For more information, visit the NRL homepage or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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