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AGMUS Institute
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Puerto Rico Atmospheric Major
Research Laser Instrumentation Program

UMET, in collaboration with the AO, submitted a proposal to NSF titled: “The Puerto Rico Atmospheric Major Research Laser Instrumentation Program” (PR-LASER). The proposal is budgeted for the amount of $890,007. This project is a partnership between UMET, the Arecibo Observatory and the NSF-funded CEDAR Resonance and Rayleigh Lidar Consortium Technology Center (CRRL/CTC), at the University of Colorado-Boulder. The objectives of this project are:

  1. To enhance upper-mesospheric research activities using new laser technology at AO through the acquisition of a state-of-the-art pulsed alexandrite laser.
  2. To improve data quality, system reliability, and to increase access to and training in the use of modern research instrumentation.
  3. To implement a research training program in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields in optics with an emphasis on atmospheric remote sensing for students from pre-college through graduate school and science teachers from Puerto Rico at UMET’s Puerto Rico Optical Sciences Institute (PROptScI).

This project will provide significant improvements in performance of the AO Doppler-Resonance Lidar. These will enhance the accuracy and precision of its measurements of K density and temperature, and ultimately enable wind measurements in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT). Increased laser reliability will mean more operational and less down time. Coupled with the ionospheric radar, the improved lidar will make around-the-clock measurements that can determine daytime atmospheric air densities. With NSF permission, the AO will transfer the old alexandrite laser to UMET's PRPI facilities at the Barceloneta Scientific Park program to extend the reach of education and training in lidar techniques and technologies.

The broader impact of the project lies on a new synergy between one of the great scientific research centers of the world with a majority-Hispanic university. Undergraduates from UMET will have the opportunity to participate in and learn the details of middle atmosphere research using state-of-the-art electro-optic technologies at UMET and at the AO. These students will become leaders in their chosen careers because of the unique opportunities presented by this partnership. UMET will partner with the CRRL/CTC and the AO to undertake middle atmospheric research, develop lidar technologies, train undergraduate and graduate students who will be the next generation of lidar scientists, and involve teachers who will take their experience to the classroom.