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NASA AIRCRAFT STUDY MIDWESTERN CROPS

July 3, 2002

Release: 02-36

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Capturing both wet and dry conditions for corn and soybeans was the challenge awaiting NASA's DC-8 when it departed the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., on July 1. The aircraft is one of five participating in the 2002 Soil Moisture Field Experiment (SMEX02). It is based in Des Moines, Iowa, for the three-week study.

SMEX02 is a NASA-funded activity in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service. The DC-8 is carrying the Airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (AirSAR), designed and built for the aircraft by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The instrument, an all-weather imaging tool, will measure soil moisture and distinguish the type of vegetation being studied. AirSAR will also evaluate instrument measurements for soil moisture being taken by the Envisat satellite, a European environmental satellite that was launched in March.

In addition to the DC-8, a NASA P-3B, a National Center for Atmospheric Research C-130, a Canadian National Research Council Twin Otter, and a Utah State University Piper Seneca will take part in the remote sensing study. Pre-flight briefings and contact between pilots will coordinate the simultaneous flights.

--nasa--

Note to Editors: Still photos of the DC-8 are available on the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center Internet Web site, URL: /centers/dfrc/gallery/photo/DC-8/index.html
 

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