Researchers have come up with a new device called the Holodec, which is essentially a flying microscope that is designed to capture images of cloud microdroplets. This information will enable researchers to determine things like how much light from the sun is being reflected back into space.
(Photo : Michigan Technological University | YouTube)
Clouds are a pretty interesting phenomenon, and it makes sense that we would want to research them on a closer level.
To do this, researchers have come up with a new airborne holographic imaging device called the Holodec that is able to capture 2D images of microscopic droplets that make up the clouds.
"We developed a new method for looking at clouds. It's like an airborne microscope, and offers a way to zoom into the detailed small structure of what's happening inside of a cloud," said Raymond Shaw, a professor at Michigan Tech, in an interview with Motherboard.
While plenty of cloud-inspecting devices have been created in the past, this is one of the few that actually looks at cloud composition on a microscopic level. Not only that, but the 2D images shot by the device can be turned into 3D cloud models back at the lab.
A study about the device was published in Science, with the team describing the Holodec, which is attached to a plane wing and can be carried through the clouds at high altitudes.
The device itself was loosely inspired by Star Trek and looks a lot like a crab's claw, with the cloud microdroplets being swept between the two ends of the claw, where the digital holography system captures images of the droplets and lets researchers see the cloud's microstructure.
The data collected by the researchers will enable them to see how much light is reflected back into space, how long it will be before the next rain, and how big future droplets will be.