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NASA ER-2 COMPLETES FIRST SCIENCE FLIGHT OVER RUSSIA
KIRUNA, SWEDEN: One of NASA's high-flying ER-2 aircraft, a civilian variant of Lockheed's U-2, completed its first science flight through Russian airspace today in support of the largest international ozone field experiment to date over the Arctic.
The six-hour flight passed southwest of Moscow and was closely coordinated with Russian observers. Based at NASA Dryden's Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA, the single-seat aircraft carried instruments to collect data for NASA's SAGE III Ozone Loss and Validation Experiment (SOLVE). SOLVE is managed by the Upper Atmosphere Research Program of NASA's Office of Earth Science.
Scientists are hoping the ER-2's stratospheric measurements will help them better understand the complicated chemistry involved with ozone loss. NASA is working with the European Commission-sponsored Third European Stratospheric Experiment on Ozone (THESEO) 2000. Research teams include scientists from NASA, Europe, Russia, Japan and Canada.
Another NASA flying laboratory, NASA Dryden's DC-8, also flew through Russian airspace in conjunction with the ER-2. The DC-8 flew its first mission over Russia's Franz Josef Land during SOLVE's first phase last December.
The NASA planes and the field experiments are based north of the ArcticCircle in Kiruna, Sweden. A large hangar built especially for research, "Arena Arctica," houses the instrumented aircraft and the scientists.
Scientists have observed unusually low levels of ozone over the Arctic during recent winters, raising concerns that ozone depletion there could become more widespread as in the Antarctic ozone hole. Scientists also hope to forecast when the Arctic ozone may return to normal.
"Handling all the hardware and coordinating the personnel, aircraft, balloons and ground observations involved in the campaign is an immense challenge," said project manager Michael Craig of NASA's Ames Research Center, Silicon Valley, CA. More than 350 scientists, technicians and support workers are involved in the experiment.
The third phase of the SOLVE field campaign ends in March.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Still photos and video footage of the ER-2 aircraft are available from the Dryden Public Affairs Office to support this release. For photo prints or video dubs, please call Beth Hagenauer, (661) 258-7960, or (661) 258-3449.
Photos of the ER-2 are also available on the Internet under NASA Dryden Research Aircraft Photo Archive, Dryden News and Feature Photos, URL:
More information (and list of participating institutions) can be found at:
(SOLVE) -- http://cloud1.arc.nasa.gov/solve/index.html
(THESEO 2000) -- http://www.ozone-sec.ch.cam.ac.uk
Some images taken by SOLVE mission members are on the Internet at:
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