Tech

January 11, 2013

Major NASA air pollution study to fly over California

A multi-year NASA airborne science mission is on its way to California to help scientists better understand how to measure and forecast air quality globally from space.

Two NASA aircraft equipped with scientific instruments will fly over the San Joaquin Valley between Bakersfield and Fresno in January and February to measure air pollution. One aircraft will fly within 1,000 feet of the ground.

The aircraft are part of NASA’s five-year DISCOVER-AQ study, which stands for Deriving Information on Surface conditions from Column and Vertically Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality. Its researchers are working to improve the ability of satellites to consistently observe air quality in the lowest part of the atmosphere. If scientists could better observe pollution from space, they would be able to make better air quality forecasts and more accurately determine where pollution is coming from and why emissions vary.

A fundamental challenge for space-based instruments monitoring air quality is to distinguish between pollution high in the atmosphere and pollution near the surface where people live. DISCOVER-AQ will make measurements from aircraft in combination with ground-based monitoring sites to help scientists better understand how to observe ground-level pollution from space.

“DISCOVER-AQ is collecting data that will prepare us to make better observations from space, as well as determine the best mix of observations to have at the surface when we have new satellite instruments in orbit,” said James Crawford, the mission’s principal investigator at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. “NASA is planning to launch that satellite instrument, called TEMPO, in 2017.”

Because many countries, including the United States, have large gaps in ground-based networks of air pollution monitors, experts look to satellites to provide a more complete geographic perspective on the distribution of pollutants.

A fleet of Earth-observing satellites, called the Afternoon Constellation or “A-train,” will pass over the DISCOVER-AQ study area daily in the early afternoon. The satellites’ data, especially from NASA’s Aqua and Aura spacecraft, will give scientists the opportunity to compare the view from space with that from the ground and aircraft.

“The A-Train satellites have been useful in giving us a broader view of air pollution than we’ve ever had before,” said Kenneth Pickering, DISCOVER-AQ’s project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “DISCOVER-AQ will help scientists interpret that data to improve air-quality analysis and regional air quality models.”

Test flights are scheduled to start Jan. 16 with science flights continuing through mid-February. A four-engine P-3B turboprop plane from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., will carry eight instruments. A two-engine B200 King Air aircraft from Langley will carry two instruments. Sampling will focus on agricultural and vehicle traffic areas extending from Bakersfield to Fresno. The flight path passes over six ground measurement sites operated by the California Air Resources Board and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

The117-foot-long P-3B will fly spiral flights over the ground stations. These flights will be from an altitude of 15,000 feet to as low as 1,000 feet. They will sample air along agricultural and traffic corridors at low altitudes between the ground stations. The smaller B200 King Air will collect data from as high as 26,000 feet. The plane’s instruments will look down at the surface, much like a satellite, and measure particulate and gaseous air pollution. The two airplanes will fly from NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif.

The DISCOVER-AQ mission is a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and University of California campus branches in Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, and Santa Barbara. Other partners in the California campaign include the National Center for Atmospheric Research; the University of Maryland in College Park and Baltimore County; University of Colorado, Boulder; Pennsylvania State University, State College; University of Innsbruck in Austria; and Millersville University, Millersville, Penn.

DISCOVER-AQ is an Earth Venture mission, part of the Earth System Science Pathfinder program managed at Langley for the Earth Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

 




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


 
 

 

Headlines August 1, 2015

News: Marine F-35 jets deemed ready for combat – A small batch of the highly anticipated – and much criticized – F-35B Joint Strike Fighter jets have been approved for combat by the U.S. Marine Corps.   News: Reports: China to sell J-10 fighter to Iran, Syria? – Iran is rumored external link to be buying 150...
 
 

News Briefs August 3, 2015

Russian military helicopter crashes during air show, one dead A Russian military helicopter crashed Aug. 2 during an aerobatic display, killing one of its crewmembers and injuring another, the Defense Ministry said. The Mi-28 helicopter gunship was part of a flight of helicopters performing aerobatics at the Dubrovichi firing range in Ryazan region, about 170...
 
 
Army photograph by John Andrew Hamilton

Improved Multiple Launch Rocket System tested at White Sands Missile Range

Army photograph by John Andrew Hamilton A Multiple Launch Rocket System with an improved armored cab fires a training rocket during a test. The rockets were simple training rockets and not equipped with a warhead, but still gen...
 

 

Missile Defense Agency, Raytheon demonstrate SM-6’s new anti-ballistic missile defense capability

In a first-of-its-kind test, the U.S. Navy fired a Raytheon Standard Missile-6, intercepting and destroying a short-range ballistic missile target at sea. The successful U.S. Missile Defense Agency test proved a modified SM-6 can eliminate threat ballistic missiles in their final seconds of flight. “SM-6 is the only missile in the world that can do...
 
 

Northrop Grumman-developed stealthy data link validated as combat ready with U.S. Marine Corps

the U.S. Marine Corps achieving F-35B initial operating capability, the Multifunction Advanced Data Link waveform developed by Northrop Grumman has been proven a key combat-ready capability of the F-35 Lightning II program. MADL is a high-data-rate, directional communications link that allows fifth-generation aircraft to communicate and coordinate tactics covertly. During testing of the Lockhee...
 
 

Lockheed Martin technology helps pilots, UAS operators share data, stay safe

As Unmanned Aircraft Systems take to the skies, it is essential for safety that UAS operators and pilots are aware of each other. To help provide this shared situational awareness, Lockheed Martin has deployed the first components of a UAS traffic management system that is available to the UAS community now. Lockheed Martin’s online Flight...
 




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>