The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $670,000 grant to Embry-Riddle’s Dr. Alan Liu to install a special radar instrument at the Andes LIDAR Observatory in Cerro Pachón, Chile. The funding is a highly competitive Major Research Instrumentation award.
The new instrument, designed to detect meteors in the region, will replace an aging radar now in place, said Liu, professor of Engineering Physics, who played a founding role in establishing the Andes LIDAR Observatory.
An upper atmosphere observatory, the mountaintop facility houses several optical remote-sensing instruments. These include one that uses laser pulses, or LIDAR (light detection and ranging), to measure wind and temperature beyond 80 kilometers in altitude as well as special cameras that pick up energetic molecules called “airglow.” Leveraging such instruments to better understand atmospheric perturbations – such as those caused by thunderstorms and mountains – is critical to improving global circulation models, space weather prediction and global satellite navigation systems, Liu noted.