After a lengthy downtime for a major overhaul, NASA 806, one of NASA's two high-flying ER-2 Earth resources aircraft, took to the skies recently from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on its first science mission in over two years. The flight checked out the functionality of sensitive instruments that will calibrate and validate data from sensors installed on the recently launched CALIPSO and CloudSat weather, climate and air quality monitoring satellites during a series of missions led by NASA's Langley Research Center with support from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in late July and August. CALIPSO – an acronym for Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations –combines an active lidar instrument with passive infrared and visible-light imagers to probe the vertical structure and properties of thin clouds and aerosols (airborne particles). The complimentary CloudSat satellite carries a cloud profiling radar system that uses microwave energy to observe cloud particles and determine the mass of water and ice within clouds. The mission will provide the first global survey of cloud properties that are critical for understanding their effects on both weather and climate. Flying in formation with three other satellites, CALIPSO and CloudSat are expected to provide scientists and meteorologists with a greater understanding of our climate system.
NASA Dryden photos by Tony Landis
PHOTO/VIDEO EDITORS: Publication-quality photos to support this release are available for downloading at: http://www1.dfrc.nasa.gov/Gallery/Photo/ER-2/index.html. Video B-roll is available by contacting Dryden public affairs at 661-276-3449.
ED06-0117-24: NASA'S ER-2 #806 lifts off from Edwards Air Force Base on a CALIPSO and CloudSat validation instrument checkout flight.
ED06-0117-20: The large air intakes for its powerful engine are obvious as NASA's high-flying ER-2 #806 Earth resources aircraft taxies out for another science mission.
ED06-0117-13: NASA Dryden life support technician Jim Sokolik assists pressure-suited Computer Sciences pilot Dee Porter into the cockpit of NASA's ER-2 Earth resources aircraft.
For more information about NASA Dryden Flight Research Center and its research projects, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden on the Internet.
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