Solar Occultation Constellation for Retrieving Aerosols and Trace Element Species (SOCRATES) Mission Concept

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Richard M Bevilacqua1, Scott Martin Bailey2, Chad S Fish3, Larry L Gordley4 and Michael D Fromm1, (1)Naval Research Lab, Washington, DC, United States, (2)VA Tech, Bradley Department of Electrical Engineering, Blacksburg, VA, United States, (3)Atmospheric and Space Technology Research Associates LLC, Boulder, CO, United States, (4)GATS, Inc., Newport News, VA, United States
The goal of SOCRATES is to quantify the critical role of the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere (UTLS) in the climate system. The mission would provide, for the first time, the suite of measurements required to quantify stratosphere/troposphere exchange (STE) pathways and their contribution to UTLS composition, and to evaluate the radiative forcing implications of potential changes in STE pathways with climate change. The discrimination and quantification of STE pathways requires simultaneous measurement of several key trace gases and aerosols with high precision, accuracy, and vertical resolution. Furthermore, aerosol and clouds, often present in the UTLS, complicate the measurement of trace gases. The SOCRATES sensor is a 23-channel Gas Filter Correlation Radiometer (GFCR), referred to as GLO (GFCR Limb solar Occultation), with heritage from HALOE on UARS, and SOFIE on AIM. GLO measures aerosol extinction from 0.45 to 3.88 µm, important radiatively active gases in the UTLS (H2O, O3, CH4, N2O), key tracers of STE (HCN, CO, HDO), gases important in stratospheric O3 chemistry (HCl and HF), and temperature from cloud top to 50 km at a vertical resolution of 1 km. Improved pointing knowledge will provide dramatically better retrieval precision in the UTLS, even in the presence of aerosols, than possible with HALOE. In addition, the GLO form factor is only a few percent of that of HALOE, and costs for a constellation of GLO sensors is within the cost cap of a NASA Venture mission. The SOCRATES mission concept is an 8-element constellation of autonomous CubeSats, each mated with a GLO sensor, deployed from a single launch vehicle. The SOCRATES/GLO approach reaps the advantages of solar occultation: high precision and accuracy; robust calibration; and high vertical resolution, while mitigating the sparse coverage of a single solar occultation sensor. We present the SOCRATES science case, and key elements of the SOCRATES mission and GLO instrument concepts.