National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Wallops Flight Facility


This is our new Technologies page. As we develop, adopt or implement new technologies, they will be listed on this page with a short description of each. From cutting-edge, autonomous research platforms to standard oceanographic instruments and sensors, our Technologies page will provide insight into both how our systems are composed and how they work together to supply our scientists with the vital data for this project.

Developed Technologies


The Coastal Bio-Optical Buoy (COBY) is a scientific mooring which will be deployed approximately 25 miles offshore of Wallops Island, VA. The buoy will house instruments to measure the meteorological, biological, and physical oceanographic properties of the region. The COBY mooring will also profile a suite of these instruments through the water column multiple times a day to create a detailed analysis of the Water in the area. The instrument package will contain the following instruments: Seabird CTD, Wetlabs AC-S and AC-9, Wetlabs Triplet Fluorometer, and a Satlantic ISUS Nitrate Sensor. The buoy will also house a WLR-2800 radiometer and various other meteorological instruments above the water. The scheduled deployment date is May 2008.

Every two weeks, an oceanographic cruise will be conducted to sample the waters between the coast and the buoy site. These COBY cruises will also allow for servicing of the buoy, maintainance of the buoy superstructure, cleaning the optical surfaces of the instruments, and verifying the data storage and routine operation of the buoy controls.


The Ocean-Atmosphere Sensor Integration System (OASIS) is an autonomous surface vehicle which functions as a platform for operating any number of oceanographic and meteorological instruments. It is powered by solar panels and an electric motor, can reach speeds in excess of 3 knots, and is controlled remotely by satellite communication. The applications of this platform can range from oceanographic research by scientists to search and rescue operations for the Coast Guard.


Coastal Ocean Surface Current Radar (CODAR)

A series of three long-range and two standard-range coastal surface ocean current HF radar (CODAR) systems are being deployed and maintained. The three long-range systems are being deployed along the Delmarva Peninsula and the two standard-range systems are being added to two existing standard systems already deployed at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. These systems will provide real-time coastal current estimates. This data will allow us to continually measure the coastal ocean surface current fields and aid in characterization of the coastal circulation dynamics in this region.

Biospherical Instruments WLR-2800

The WLR-2800 is a radiometer which measures light leaving the surface of the water, indirect sunlight, and direct sunlight. This instrument will be mounted on the COBY buoy to measure the amount of sunlight penetrating the water’s surface.

Seabird CTD

A CTD is an oceanographic instrument which measures conductivity (salinity), temperature, and depth. This instrument can be lowered through the water to create a profile of temperature and/or salinity vs. depth.

Wetlabs AC-9 and AC-S

The AC-meters are instruments that measure the absorption of the water at many wavelengths in the visible spectrum. The absorption of light at different wavelengths can give information as to the type and number of phytoplankton in the water.

Wetlabs Triplet Fluorometer

The Wetlabs Triplet fluorometer measures the concentration of chlorophyll (the primary pigment found in phytoplankton), phycoerythrin (a pigment found in one type of phytoplankton), and CDOM (colored dissolved organic matter-other biological chemicals dissolved in the water).

Satlantic ISUS Nitrate Sensor

The ISUS Nitrate Sensor estimates the concentration of nitrate ions in the water-one of the major nutrients needed for phytoplankton growth. This nitrate concentration gives an idea as to the ability of the water in that area to support the growth of phytoplankton.

Hobilabs HydroScat-2

The HydroScat-2 measures the amount of light which is reflected backwards when a sample of water is struck with two different beams of light. This instrument can help to estimate the average size of the particles in the water.

Biospherical Instruments PRR-800

The PRR-800 is a profiling reflectance radiometer, which measures the attenuation of the sun’s light at depth in the water column. The instrument is lowered through the water and measures the amount of light which is downwelling (from the sun) and upwelling (from reflection below) at each depth.