February 5, 2019
NASA's newest snow instrument, Snow Water Equivalent SAR and Radiometer (SWESARR) took its first flight around Grand Junction, Colorado aboard a DHC-6 Twin Otter last month. Newton built the mounting structure and the tilt stabilization platform for SWESARR, and also helped prep the instrument for airworthiness in Grand Junction.
SWESARR is a state-of-the-art microwave snow measurement system. It's ultimate goal is to help answer the question: How much water is stored in the Earth's terrestrial snow covered regions? SWESARR will provide a test-bed for measurement techniques that can be extended to satellite observation.
After the NASA Langley Airworthiness and Safety Review Board cleared SWESARR to fly, it took its first flight on Saturday, December 1, 2018. The radar collected data at 1500, 2000, and 3000 meters above ground level (AGL).
After the flight, the team processed and analyzed the data collected by the three qualified non-crew members of scientists and engineers. The first flight went as expected, with minor issues to tackle, but all indications of data analysis are positive.
Twin Otter getting fuel for flight (NASA)
Setting up instrument parameters and monitoring radiometer measurements (NASA)
Grand Junction Airport from the air (NASA)
Completing Final Checks on SWESARR (NASA)
Preliminary image by Rafael Rincon, showing X-band Co-polarization imagery (NASA)