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Sigma Space Deploys World’s First Operational Volcanic Ash Measurement LiDAR

NASA-Derived Technology Enables Accurate Volcanic-Ash Assessment At Airport In Argentina

At the request of the Argentinean Ministry of Defense, a LiDAR system developed by Sigma Space was installed at Bariloche airport in Argentina on January 30th. Since the June 2011 eruption of the Chilean Puyehue, Bariloche has been suffering from intermittent ash clouds blowing from the volcano, and the airport in Bariloche has been closed much of the time since the eruption. Sigma Space’s portable and highly automated Micro Pulse LiDAR (MPL) system was able to be rapidly deployed.

Volcanic ash has been a recurrent impediment to normal air-traffic operations in Europe, Asia and South America over the last few years. Sigma’s MPL permits determination of ash concentration profile every few seconds. "With the new equipment, companies will have an accurate picture of ash clouds, which will enable them to cancel flights only in extreme conditions of concentration of particles in the air," said Hector Ciappesoni, director of the Meteorological Service of Argentina.

"This equipment brings the airport to the highest safety standards," said Rio Negro governor Alberto Weretilneck. He highlighted that the quick response of the Defense Ministry to the order of the President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, enabled the airport to operate normally since procuring the LiDAR.

Marcos Sirota, president of Sigma Space and an Argentina native, traveled to Bariloche to personally supervise the installation of the MPL. “After calibration we will be able to provide quantitative information in real time. LiDAR networks will be able to report both vertical and regional ash distribution worldwide. A true breakthrough for aviation,” he said.

The World Meteorological Association (WMO) is developing new standards for the incorporation of LiDAR information into regular forecasts worldwide, as LiDAR measurements could provide a comprehensive assessment of ash distribution in flight corridors. Sigma Space Corporation produces pioneering LiDAR instrumentation, laser ranging, attitude determination, spectroscopy, and radiometry for remote sensing and defense applications. Sigma Space also supplies advanced science and engineering services to government customers.  (Photo provided by Sigma Space)



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