Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

High-flying aircraft helps develop new science instruments

Date:
September 18, 2012
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
Over the next few weeks, an ER-2 high altitude research aircraft operating out of NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., will take part in the development of two future satellite instruments. The aircraft will fly test models of these instruments at altitudes greater than 60,000 feet to gather information researchers can use to develop ways to handle data future spaceborne versions will collect.

ER-2's arrival at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Is., Va.
Credit: NASA/Brea Reeves

Over the next few weeks, an ER-2 high altitude research aircraft operating out of NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., will take part in the development of two future satellite instruments. The aircraft will fly test models of these instruments at altitudes greater than 60,000 feet to gather information researchers can use to develop ways to handle data future spaceborne versions will collect.

Related Articles


NASA Wallops will be the temporary home of one of NASA's ER-2 research aircraft. The ER-2 from NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., will carry two instruments, the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) and the Multiple Altimeter Beam Experimental Lidar (MABEL). CATS and MABEL are test beds for instruments to be carried by future satellite missions, and because they are both high-altitude laser instruments they will share space on the ER-2 in part as a way to lower costs for both teams. The ER-2's deployment began on Sept. 7 and will end no later than Sept. 27.

CATS is a high spectral resolution lidar that uses a laser to gather data about clouds and aerosols. Aerosols are tiny particles in the atmosphere such as dust, smoke or pollution. Similar instruments on existing satellites, such as CALIPSO, can detect aerosol plumes, but cannot determine what they are made of.

"You have to make some assumptions," said atmospheric scientist Matt McGill at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. CATS can better detect aerosol particle properties, allowing researchers to better determine what kind of aerosols the plumes are made of and improve studies of aerosol transport and cloud motion. CATS was designed as a test instrument for the future Aerosol-Cloud Ecosystems (ACE) satellite mission, which is still in its planning stages, and a version of CATS will be installed on the International Space Station in mid-2013.

MABEL is a laser altimeter built to simulate the primary instrument on ICESat-2, scheduled for launch in 2016. ICESat-2 will study land and sea ice and vegetation. In April, a NASA ER-2 carrying MABEL flew surveys of land and sea ice out of Keflavik, Iceland, which yielded large amounts of data that researchers are using to develop algorithms for ICESat-2.

This time around, MABEL will measure vegetation along the U.S. East Coast, which will provide data useful for developing methods for determining the amount and thickness of vegetation coverage. This involves measuring both the tops of tree canopies and ground level at the same time, which Kelly Brunt, a cryospheric scientist at NASA Goddard, said is a challenging task. The ICESat-2 team's need to measure deciduous forest canopies is in part of why these flights will operate out of Wallops. "We can't get the type of vegetation canopy we need flying out of Dryden," Brunt said. The ER-2 will be surveying forests and grasslands from Maine to the Florida Everglades.

In addition to CATS and MABEL, the ER-2 will carry a Cloud Physics Lidar (CPL) instrument that will be used to detect clouds and aerosols that could hinder MABEL's performance. "We need to know what's between MABEL and the surface," said McGill.

These flights will coincide with NASA's Hurricane and Severe Storms Sentinel, or HS3, campaign. HS3 is an airborne mission where a NASA Global Hawk unpiloted aircraft will overfly hurricanes and severe storms to measure properties such as wind, temperature, precipitation, humidity and aerosol profiles. One of the instruments it carries is a CPL identical in design to the one on board the ER-2. The Global Hawk is capable of flying at altitudes greater than 60,000 feet for more than 28 hours at a time and will be operated by pilots back on the ground.

The flights are sponsored by the Earth Science Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "High-flying aircraft helps develop new science instruments." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120918090810.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2012, September 18). High-flying aircraft helps develop new science instruments. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120918090810.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "High-flying aircraft helps develop new science instruments." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120918090810.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

What NASA Wants To Learn From Its 'Year In Space' Tests

What NASA Wants To Learn From Its 'Year In Space' Tests

Newsy (Mar. 28, 2015) Astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will spend a year in space running tests on human physiology and psychology. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crew Starts One-Year Space Mission

Crew Starts One-Year Space Mission

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 28, 2015) Russian-U.S. crew arrives safely at the International Space Station for the start of a ground-breaking year-long stay. Paul Chapman reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why So Many People Think NASA's Asteroid Mission Is A Waste

Why So Many People Think NASA's Asteroid Mission Is A Waste

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) The Asteroid Retrieval Mission announced this week bears little resemblance to its grand beginnings. Even NASA scientists are asking, "Why bother?" Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Station Crew Docks Safely

Space Station Crew Docks Safely

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 27, 2015) NASA TV footage shows the successful docking of a Russian Soyuz craft to the International Space Station for a year-long mission. Rough cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins