The 22 GHz radio-aeronomy receiver at Onsala Space Observatory
Journal article, 2003
We present a radiometer system for regular long-term measurements of water vapour in the middle atmosphere. To be able to do continuous and long-term measurements a simple, robust, reliable and automatic system is needed. Our system therefore is based on a stable, uncooled, HEMT amplifier frontend and on a digital spectrometer backend. In order to minimise reflections in the frontend transmission line, which distort the signal due to standing waves, we have designed a corrugated receiver horn, which combines good characteristics (low return loss and sidelobes) and narrow beamwidth to simplify the receiver optics. In order to make the radiometer system as simple as possible, we use the sky as the calibration cold load. This is possible since we use the observed brightness temperatures of an already existing broadband dual-channel 21.0/31.4-GHz radiometer, at the observation site, to estimate the brightness temperature of the sky at . However, we have developed a calibration method, which makes it possible to estimate the sky brightness temperature even if we cannot use the dual-channel radiometer. Despite new measurements, which became available in recent years, the determination of middle atmospheric water vapour distribution still remains a challenge due to the fact that there is a large dispersion among the different measurement methods and data sets, which are obtained on a sparse and sporadic basis. This is the reason why several instruments similar to ours currently are developed in Europe.