METEOROLOGICAL SUPPORT SYSTEMS


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The Meteorological Support contractor provides a weather data acquisition and forecasting service for support of mission operations. Meteorological support for missions can be categorized into roughly four areas:Photo

Data gathering which includes:

-Making complete and often specialized surface observations

-Performing upper-air measurements using rawinsondes, meteorological   rockets, theodolites, & wind finding radars

-Making radar weather observations

-Receiving weather satellite imagery

 

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Forecasting functions including:

- Analyzing synoptic-scale meteorological data and  meteorological satellite imagery
- Running meso- and cloud-scale numerical models
- Making long- and short-term specialized weather forecasts
- Range Operations Support

*Providing mission oriented weather data to the Range Control Officer to assist in making range operations decisions
*Specialized support, as required, to the Range User to assist in meeting test objectives

- Meteorological consultation

*Interpretation of meteorological data as required
*Quick look reports within 48 hours
*Detailed reports, if required, usually within 30-45 days of the mission

 

 

Conventional Ground Measurements
The Meteorological Support Contractor provides instrumentation to measure wind speed and direction; temperature; dew point and relative humidity; air pressure; precipitation; and cloud height and ceiling.

Upper-Atmosphere Measurements Photo

Photo of Radar

For upper atmosphere measurements, the Meteorological Sounding System (MSS) provides telemeter data from sensors deployed on:

 PWN-11D rocketsonde
 National Weather Service radiosonde
 A special MSS transponding sonde
 Solid-state sondes with high-accuracy sensors

Additional means for measuring upper-atmosphere include a radiotheodolite system; Pilot Balloon (PIBAL) observations; Wind Finding Radars; and rocket carried instrumented payloads to measure atmospheric temperature, wind speed, pressure, and atmospheric density between 20 and 70 Km altitude. For measurement above 70 Km, an inflatable Robin sphere is launched on-board a PWN-12A sounding rocket. Wind, temperature, pressure and density are derived from precision radar measurement of the falling sphere.

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Weather Radar Systems

The Meteorological Support contractor operates a weather surveillance radar to detect, analyze and record precipitating weather systems. The radar has an effective range of 450 Km. Height, distance, intensity, and course of a weather system can be monitored by use of this system.

Data from the radar are displayed in two areas of the weather station; remote displays are provided at the MCC, the FAA Control Tower, and the Base Operations Group at USAKA Headquarters. This data is also transmitted to Vandenberg AFB, CA, and to the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands, HI. A variety of recording media and data rates are available.

Data from ALCOR and TRADEX radars can be transmitted to the weather station and displayed as graphic displays of radar echo intensities in both PPI (horizontal) and RHI (vertical) formats. This data can be used to infer water mass and the environmental severity index that might be encountered by reentering vehicles.

 

Photo of SatelliteEnvironmental Satellite Systems

The Man-Computer Interactive Data Access System (McIDAS) receives data from the Japanese Geostationary Meteorological Satellite (GMS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Polar Orbiting Earth Satellites (POES). The imagery from these systems provides a variety of measurements to complement those available at site. RTS observations are put into the McIDAS to provide information for other agencies. Two additional satellite systems are used for backup information; the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) and GOES-TAP, operated by the NOAA Satellite Field Station in Honolulu, HI

 

                                

Numerical Weather Prediction
Two weather models are used to predict weather in the RTS vicinity. MASS, the Mesoscale Atmospheric Simulation System, provides 25 and 100 Km resolution forecasts of wind, temperature, humidity, precipitation, ice content and convective activity over an area bounded by 140 East and 160 West longitude and 28 North and 8 South Latitude. Coverage is estimated from the surface to approximately 17 Km.

The Terminal Area Simulation System (TASS) is used to make forecasts of individual clouds and cloud ensembles with 100 to 1000 meter horizontal resolution. Forecasts, made for up to 60 minutes, are validated with WSR-74 radar data.

Special Measuring Systems
Lightning detectors, located on Kwajalein, Meck, Roi-Namur and Illeginni provide atoll-wide coverage for detection and positioning of lightning. With the distribution of sensors, lightning can be located with a resolution of 0.5 Km over most of the atoll.

A Next Generation Water Level Measurement System, located at Echo Pier, reports 6-minute samples of tide height information. Dial-up access to the data is available at the weather station.  A tide staff, mounted on a concrete piling at the pier, also provides a direct measurement of sea water level.

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