This paper is an overview of the Tropospheric Airborne Meteorological Data Reporting (TAMDAR) project, giving some history on the project, various applications of the atmospheric data, and future ideas and plans. As part of NASA's Aviation Safety and Security Program, the TAMDAR project developed a small low-cost sensor that collects useful meteorological data and makes them available in near real time to improve weather forecasts. This activity has been a joint effort with FAA, NOAA, universities, and industry. A tri-agency team collaborated by developing a concept of operations, determining the sensor specifications, and evaluating sensor performance as reported by Moosakhanian et. al. (2006). Under contract with Georgia Tech Research Institute, NASA worked with AirDat of Raleigh, NC to develop the sensor. The sensor is capable of measuring temperature, relative humidity, pressure, and icing. It can compute pressure altitude, indicated and true air speed, ice accretion rate, wind speed and direction, peak and average turbulence, and eddy dissipation rate. The overall development process, sensor capabilities, and performance based on ground and flight tests is reported by Daniels (2002), Daniels et. al. (2004) and by Tsoucalas et. al. (2006). An in-service evaluation of the sensor was performed called the Great Lakes Fleet Experiment (GLFE), first reported by Moninger et. al. (2004) and Mamrosh et. al. (2005). In this experiment, a Mesaba Airlines fleet was equipped to collect meteorological data over the Great Lakes region during normal revenue-producing flights. These aircraft make over 400 flights daily to 75 airports, providing more than 800 soundings for a total of over 22,000 daily observations of wind and temperature. This number can be compared with the approximately 100,000 observations of only wind and temperature over the entire contiguous U. S. from aircraft that currently provide Meteorological Data Collection and Reporting System (MDCRS) data. While originally funded by NASA for six months, more funding from the FAA was provided to perform an additional six months of the GLFE. The automated collection, processing, and dissemination of meteorological data from aircraft are referred to as MDCRS in the U.S. and as Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay (AMDAR) throughout the rest of the world. The role of TAMDAR within this wider scheme is described by Moninger et. al. (2006a).
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