Tech

June 7, 2013

NASA flights target how pollution, storms, climate mix

NASA’s DC-8 airborne science laboratory.

NASA aircraft will take to the skies over the southern United States this summer to investigate how air pollution and natural emissions, which are pushed high into the atmosphere by large storms, affect atmospheric composition and climate.

NASA will conduct its most complex airborne science campaign of the year from Houston’s EllingtonField, which is operated by the agency’s Johnson Space Center, beginning Aug. 7 and continuing through September. The field campaign draws together coordinated observations from NASA satellites, aircraft and an array of ground sites.

More than 250 scientists, engineers, and flight personnel are participating in the Studies of Emissions, Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by RegionalSurveys (SEAC4RS) campaign. The project is sponsored by the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Brian Toon of the Department of Atmospheric andOceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is SEAC4RS lead scientist.

Aircraft and sensors will probe the atmosphere from top to bottom at the critical time of year when weather systems are strong enough and regional air pollution and natural emissions are prolific enough to pump gases and particles high into the atmosphere. The result is potentially global consequences for Earth’s atmosphere and climate.

“In summertime across the United States, emissions from large seasonal fires, metropolitanareas, and vegetation are moved upward by thunderstorms and the North American Monsoon,” Toon said. “When these chemicals get into the stratosphere they can affect the whole Earth. They also may influence how thunderstorms behave. With SEAC4RS we hope to better understand how all these things interact.”

SEAC4RS will provide new insights into the effects of the gases and tiny aerosol particles in the atmosphere. The mission is targeting two major regional sources of summertime emissions: intense smoke from forest fires in the U.S. West and natural emissions of isoprene, a carbon compound, from forests in the Southeast.

NASA’s ER-2 lands at the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops, Va.

Forest fire smoke can change the properties of clouds. The particles in the smoke can reflect andabsorb incoming solar energy, potentially producing a net cooling at the ground and a warming of the atmosphere. The addition of large amounts of chemicals, such as isoprene, can alter the chemical balance of the atmosphere. Some ofthese chemicals can damage Earth’s protective ozone layer.

The mission will use a number of scientific instruments in orbit, in the air, and on the ground topaint a detailed picture of these intertwined atmospheric processes. As a fleet of formation-flying satellites known as NASA’s A-Train passes over the region every day, sensors will detect different features of the scene below. NASA’s ER-2 high-altitude aircraft will fly into the stratosphere to the edge of space while NASA’s DC-8 aircraft will sample the atmosphere below it. A third aircraft from SPEC Inc., of Boulder, Colo., will measure cloud properties.

One benefit of this thorough examination of the region’s atmosphere will be more accurate satellite data.

“By using aircraft to collect data from inside the atmosphere, we can compare those measurements with what our satellites see and improve the quality of the data from space,” said Hal Maring of the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters.

The SEAC4RS campaign is partly supported by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. NASA scientists involved in the mission come from NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.; Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt., Md.; Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.; and Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

NASA’s Earth Science Project Office at Ames manages the SEAC4RS project. The DC-8 andER-2 research aircraft are managed by NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center and based at Dryden’s Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif.




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


 
 

 

Headlines September 19, 2014

News: McKeon on broader military authorization: Anything can ‘fail or pass’ - Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said if Congress returns after the midterm elections to weigh a broader military authorization for the battle against Islamic State, it might not pass. Defense contractor gets 7 years for giving secrets...
 
 

News Briefs September 19, 2014

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,203 As of Sept. 16, 2014, at least 2,203 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,823 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result...
 
 

Pratt & Whitney, U.S. Air Force complete qualification for F135 engine testing

Pratt & Whitney, a United Technologies Corp. , together with its U.S. Air Force partner at the F135 Heavy Maintenance Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., celebrated another significant milestone qualification for F135 engine testing at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex. OC-ALC which in addition to engine testing is also qualified to perform...
 

 
Navy photograph

Triton has first cross-country flight from Palmdale

Northrop Grumman photograph The MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System takes off from Northrop Grummanís Palmdale, Calif., facility Sept. 17 for its first cross-country flight to Naval Air Station Patuxent, River, Md. PALMDALE,...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Michael J. Pausic

Future of NATO: Adapting to a new security environment

Air Force photograph by Michael J. Pausic Gen. Phillip Breedlove informs the assembled crowd about the results of the recent NATO Summit and the areas of instability that affect Europe that have regional implications. Seated in...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash

AFRL commander describes Air Force’s technology vision

Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash Maj. Gen. Thomas Masiello takes a question from an audience member after discussing Air Force Research Laboratory breakthrough technologies during the 2014 Air Force Association’s Air ...
 




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=""> <strike> <strong>