A scientist prepares to launch a radiosonde.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of the Digital Image Library, UCAR

MILAGRO Instruments

Researchers will set up instruments on the ground during MILAGRO to make observations and measurements about the air around Mexico City that can't be made from aircraft. Here are a few examples of the instruments they will use:

Radiosondes: Scientists have been using these helium-filled weather balloons since the 1930s. As the balloon rises into the atmosphere, an instrument package attached to it measures temperature, pressure, and humidity at frequent intervals. The readings are sent via radio to a ground station. By monitoring the location of the radiosonde with Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, researchers can also infer wind speed and direction. During MILAGRO, teams based at ground sites in the Mexico City vicinity will launch radiosondes to make vertical profiles of the atmosphere.

Tethersonde: A tethersonde is very similar to a radiosonde, except that the instruments are attached to a tethered (fixed) balloon. The tether keeps the instrument package closer to the ground, limiting its readings to the boundary layer, or layer of the atmosphere that is just above Earth's surface where wind is influenced by friction with topography. The instruments can move up and down the tether for a vertical profile.

Click for full size

Wind profilers: Wind profilers are sensors that continuously measure wind speed and direction up to about 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) by detecting signals from microwave radar beams that are directed upward. MILAGRO researchers will deploy wind profilers near Mexico City to measure wind speed and direction. This will help them determine the paths of air pollution particles that blow out of Mexico City.

Click for full size

Mobile laboratories: The MILAGRO researchers will use a variety of laboratories based in vans and trailers. The labs, which contain instruments for sampling particles and gases in the air, will be deployed throughout the Mexico City basin.

Click for full size

Satellites: MILAGRO researchers will also use data retrieved by satellites circling Earth to learn more about the distribution of clouds, aerosols, and different chemicals in the atmosphere. One satellite they will look to is MOPITT, which flies on NASA's EOS Terra spacecraft. The satellite measures the distribution of the pollutant carbon monoxide in the troposphere, or lowest layer of Earth's atmosphere.

Click for full size

Other instruments on airplanes will also be used during the campaign.

Last modified June 17, 2010 by Becca Hatheway.

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Aircraft Used in the MILAGRO Campaign

The MILAGRO researchers will use six different aircraft during the field campaign. Each plane will have different instrumentation onboard that will help scientists measure atmospheric conditions. They'll...more

Introduction to Milagro

One of the most complex field campaigns ever undertaken in the field of atmospheric chemistry began in March 2006. A team of researchers from around the world is in Mexico City for a series of projects...more

Greetings from the Tecamac Technical University Site

It’s been two weeks since we arrived in Mexico and it’s been a real challenge to recreate our laboratory in a trailer in the field in this desert-like location – Tecamac – north of the Federal District...more

Aboard the Gulfstream G1 Airplane

Hi again- I flew from Mexico City to Veracruz yesterday to see how the aircraft operation was going. Our airplane is the Grumman Gulfstream 1 (G1) operated by the United States Department of Energy. It’s...more

MILAGRO Instruments

Researchers will set up instruments on the ground during MILAGRO to make observations and measurements about the air around Mexico City that can't be made from aircraft. Here are a few examples of the...more

Light extinction of particles

Not all particles are the same, many of them have different shape, size, and composition. Some of them reflect or scatter light, and others absorb it. Two instruments on the image, photometer and nephelometer,...more

What does Tecamac mean?

Measuring site T1 is in Tecámac. This is a little town close to Mexico City. The name Tecámac is a Náhuatl word, an ancient Mexico's language, spoken by Aztecs. In Náhuatl, Tetl or Tec means stone, camatl...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA