Several NASA Airborne Science aircraft that were deployed for science missions during the summer of 2013 to study subjects from hurricane formation to forest fires have returned to their home bases at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center and the Dryden Aircraft Operations Center in Southern California.
The ER-2 and DC-8 aircraft participated in NASA's Studies of Emissions, Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys (SEAC4RS) mission that was based in Houston. Scientists studied how the vertical convection of air pollution and natural emissions affect climate change over wide areas of the United States.
NASA's high-altitude ER-2, tail number 809, returned to the agency's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., Sept. 23 after a 7.8-hour mission from Ellington Field in Houston. The aircraft departed for Houston Aug. 8 and flew a total of 164.6 hours during 22 SEAC4RS science flights.
Fifteen specialized instruments were tucked into the ER-2's equipment bays and on the wings. These sensors included a "pushbroom" camera, broadband and hyperspectral radiometers, gas analyzers, a lidar and two polarimeters. The sensors measured water vapor, turbulence, terrestrial and atmospheric processes, clouds, aerosols, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide among other atmospheric constituents.
NASA's DC-8 flying laboratory also returned from Ellington Field Sept. 23. The aircraft flew 22 science missions totaling more than 176 flight hours between its departure from Dryden Aug. 8 and its return.
The flying laboratory carried 32 research instruments, including a hygrometer, a chromatograph, a spectroradiometer, and a sun photometer. These and other instruments gathered data about trace gases, black carbon, cloud particles and formaldehyde along with other airborne chemicals that contribute to pollution.
NASA's two unmanned Global Hawks deployed to NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., in mid-August to participate in the Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) mission that investigated the processes that underlie hurricane formation and intensity change in the Atlantic Ocean basin.
One of the Global Hawks was outfitted with instruments to fly over active storm formations while the second flew out toward Africa to study the role of the Saharan Air Layer in tropical storm formation and intensification as well as the role of deep convection in the inner-core region of storms.
The Global Hawks were scheduled to return to their home base at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards, Calif., Sept. 25 and 26. The HS3 mission was the first time both aircraft were deployed together and first use of a new Global Hawk ground control station at Wallops.
Beth Hagenauer, Public Affairs
Dryden Flight Research Center