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 Microwave Atmospheric Science
HCl distribution over the Antarctic using MLS data

The Microwave Atmospheric Science Group develops and uses microwave instruments to obtain information about the chemistry, hydrology, and dynamics of Earth's atmosphere. Its overall goal is to produce information that is needed for understanding and protecting the health of our atmosphere - using the unique capabilities and infrastructure provided by JPL and NASA. It forms an integrated team with the Upper Atmosphere Microwave Experiment Development Group. Expertise in this integrated team includes:

  1. scientific analyses of MLS and related data and publication of results
  2. mission and instrument conception and aspects of design
  3. data processing and analyses algorithms and software development
  4. science data product inspection, quality control, and validation
  5. definition and advocacy of needed new technology and
  6. instrument testing and calibration

The group's work is 'anchored' on the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) experiments, which were initiated at JPL in the early 1970s - starting with aircraft, progressing through balloon and then satellite instruments.

The first MLS satellite experiment was on the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) launched in 1991. The primary objective of UARS MLS was to assess the chlorine threat to stratospheric ozone and provide information needed for making informed policy decisions on regulation of ozone depleting substances.

The second, EOS MLS, is on the EOS Aura satellite launched July 15 2004, with an expected operational lifetime of at least 5 years. The overall objectives of EOS MLS are to:

  1. Track the stability of the stratospheric ozone layer
  2. Investigate the couplings and feedbacks between atmospheric composition and climate and
  3. Provide quantitative information on pollution in the upper troposphere.

It measures many more chemical species than were possible with the first MLS, due to infusion of new submillimeter technology developed at JPL.

Work is now underway on developing the concept for a 'third-generation' MLS that will provide an unprecedented capability for high temporal and spatial resolution upper tropospheric measurements while continuing critical measurements for understanding climate and the stability of the stratospheric ozone layer.

More than 400 MLS peer-reviewed scientific publications have been produced to date. An updated list of the publications, and other information, is available at the MLS web site, The group has many collaborators throughout the international scientific community.

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