G-III flight crew and scientists are draped with leis upon their arrival at Kona International Airport in Hawaii May 2. JPL's UAVSAR operator Tim Miller holds a "Flat Jimmy" geo-traveler from a young student in Leicestershire, UK, that was given to one of the project scientists recently and has been to Japan, Costa Rica and now Hawaii. (Bradley Pacific Aviation photo)
A break in the clouds allowed NASA Dryden's G-III UAVSAR mission manager Tim Moes to take this image of the snow-covered 13,700-foot summit of Mauna Kea topped with astronomical observatories as the G-III flew at about 41,000 feet altitude. (NASA / Tim Moes) A NASA Gulfstream-III aircraft returned to its base at the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., May 10 after a successful nine-day mission to the Big Island of Hawaii. The mission's goal was to image volcanoes on the Big Island and map surface deformations on the islands of Oahu, Molokai, and Maui using the Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar, or UAVSAR, developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Seven science flights totaling 39.3 hours were flown during the deployment.
"These repeat-data acquisitions will allow us to image Kilauea's surface displacement from the March 2011 fissure eruption along east rift zone of the volcano in unprecedented resolution," said Paul Lundgren, JPL's principal investigator for the volcano study.
Plans are to return to Hawaii at yearly intervals or sooner if new significant eruptive activity occurs. UAVSAR provides unique data than can improve scientists' understanding of eruption source processes. The data collected this year will provide a basis for comparison with future missions flown in response to new or impending volcanic eruptions.