National Aeronautics and Space Administration


Date of this Version



Aerosol Science and Technology, 47:662–671, 2013


U.S. Government Work


Aircraft-based aerosol sampling in clouds is complicated by the generation of shatter artifact particles from aerodynamic or impaction breakup of cloud droplets and ice particles in and around the aerosol inlet. Aerodynamic breakup occurs when the Weber number of a droplet, which primarily depends on the droplet size and the magnitude of the relative motion of the droplet and the local air mass, exceeds a critical value. Impaction breakup of a droplet occurs when the droplet’s impaction breakup parameter, K, which is a combination ofWeber and Ohnesorge numbers, exceeds a critical value. Considering these two mechanisms, the critical breakup diameters are estimated for two aerosol inlets of different designs—a conventional forward-facing solid diffuser inlet (SDI) and a cross-flow sampling sub-micron aerosol inlet (SMAI). From numerical simulations, it is determined that cloud droplets of all sizes will experience impaction breakup in SDI, while only droplets larger than ~16 μm will experience impaction breakup in SMAI. The relatively better in-cloud sampling performance of SMAI is because of its cone design that slows the flow just upstream of the sample tube. The slowing upstream flow, however, causes aerodynamic breakup of drops larger than ~100μm. The critical breakup diameters determined from analysis of field data largely validate numerical predictions. The cross-flow sampling design of SMAI is seen to ensure that shatter artifacts in the inlet are minimal even when there are a significant number of particles larger that the critical breakup size. The study results, thus, suggest that the SMAI design presents an effective approach to sample interstitial particles from aircraft.