Local

March 21, 2014

NASA completes this year’s flights in search of climate change clues

NASA’s Global Hawk No. 872 flares for landing at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam to begin the 2014 ATTREX climate-change mission Jan. 17. The two-month-long airborne science flight campaign wrapped up with the aircraft’s return to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center March 14.

NASA’s Global Hawk research aircraft returned to its base at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., early morning March 14, marking the completion of flights in support of this year’s Airborne Tropical Tropopause Experiment, a multi-year NASA airborne science campaign.

On Feb. 13, the autonomously operated aircraft began conducting science flights from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam in the western Pacific region on a mission to track changes in the upper atmosphere and help researchers understand how these changes affect Earth’s climate.

“The western Pacific region is critical for establishing the humidity of the air entering the stratosphere,” said Eric Jensen, ATTREX principal investigator at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.

ATTREX measures the moisture levels and chemical composition of upper regions of the lowest layer of Earth’s atmosphere, a region where even small changes can significantly impact climate. Scientists will use the data to better understand physical processes occurring in this part of the atmosphere and help make more accurate climate predictions.

Mario Rana of Science Systems and Applications, Inc., at NASA Langley (foreground) and Jim Podolske of NASA Ames check out data recorded by the Diode Laser Hygrometer installed on NASA’s Global Hawk following a 2014 ATTREX mission flight March 9 over the western Pacific Ocean.

Studies show even slight changes in the chemistry and amount of water vapor in the stratosphere, the same region that is home to the ozone layer that protects life on Earth from the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation, can affect climate significantly by absorbing thermal radiation rising from the surface. Predictions of stratospheric humidity changes are uncertain because of gaps in the understanding of the physical processes occurring in the tropical tropopause layer.

ATTREX is studying moisture and chemical composition from altitudes of 45,000 to 60,000 feet in the tropical tropopause, which is the transition layer between the troposphere, the lowest part of the atmosphere, and the stratosphere, which extends to roughly 30 miles above Earth’s surface. Scientists consider the tropical tropopause to be the gateway for water vapor, ozone and other gases that enter the stratosphere. For this mission, the Global Hawk carries instruments that will sample the tropopause near the equator over the Pacific Ocean.

ATTREX scientists installed 13 research instruments on NASA’s Global Hawk 872. Some of these instruments capture air samples while others use remote sensing to analyze clouds, temperature, water vapor, gases and solar radiation.

This year, ATTREX conducted seven long-duration science flights totaling 121 hours, averaging more than 17 hours per flight. This year’s flights bring the total hours flown in support of ATTREX to 297 hours since 2011.

A team of NOAA researchers checks out the UAS Chromatograph for Atmospheric Trace Species instrument installed in NASA’s unmanned Global Hawk for the ATTREX mission.

Jensen and Project Manager Dave Jordan of Ames lead the ATTREX mission. It includes investigators from Ames and three other NASA facilities: Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The team also includes investigators from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Miami, the University of Heidelberg, and private industry.

ATTREX is one of the first research missions of NASA’s new Earth Venture project. These small and targeted science investigations complement NASA’s broader science research satellite missions. The Earth Venture missions are part of NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder Program managed by Langley.

NASA monitors Earth’s vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites and ambitious airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth’s interconnected natural systems with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing. The agency shares this unique knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home planet.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

News Briefs July 2, 2015

Freedom Fest Freedom Fest is 4:30-9:30 p.m., July 4 at Wings and Roberts Fields. Event highlights include fireworks, Euro Bungee, 25-foot tidal wave water slide, eight pony carousel, balloon artists, 25′ gondola ferris wheel, Rockin’ Tubs Ride, double swing chair ride, Timberland Wrecking Ball, inflatable Slip & Slide and laser tag. All rides and entertainment...
 
 
afmc-cc-message

Be proud of your role this Independence Day

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, starting the colonies on the path to freedom. The next day, John Adams wrote to his wife, describing the time as “the most memorable epoc...
 
 
tw-cc-message

Happy Fourth of July!

Team, This Independence Day weekend, we celebrate the day our great nation declared independence for the original 13 colonies and thus the birth of the United States of America. The Declaration of Independence is the nationR...
 

 
Air Force photograph by Jet Fabara

AFMC commander talks resilience, future of command

Air Force photograph by Jet Fabara Gen. Ellen M. Pawlikowski, Air Force Materiel Command commander, addresses Team Edwards during a commander’s call in the base theater June 19. Pawlikowski offered insight into the Air Fo...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Rebecca Amber

Seminar provides expert advice for smart home buying

Air Force photograph by Rebecca Amber The Housing Management Office offered a free Home Buyer’s Seminar June 17, at the Airman and Family Readiness Center. Whether you are a first-time home buyer or looking to purchase an inv...
 
 
summer-safety

Summertime fire safety

Air Force photograph by Rebecca Amber Summer is upon us! This means lots of fun with family and friends. At the Edwards AFB Fire Department we want your summer to be fun, memorable and safe. Here are a few tips to help keep you...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>