One of NASA's two ER-2 Earth resources aircraft shows off its lines during a flyover at the Edwards Air Force Base. (NASA Photo by Jim Ross) NASA's ER-2 high-altitude aircraft is flying engineering demonstration flights during September of the Tropospheric Wind Lidar Technology Experiment, or TWiLiTE, developed by scientists from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
TWiLiTE is an airborne remote sensing instrument designed to measure atmospheric wind profiles. It was built specifically for demonstration on the ER-2, which flies at altitudes of 65,000 to 70,000 feet, well above most of the Earth's atmosphere. Using this aircraft and its flight environment challenges sensor designers.
Accurate measurement of wind profiles is a missing parameter in global weather prediction models and is a capability not yet possible. Developing the TWiLiTE instrument as a prototype brings NASA closer to the goal of space-borne measurement capability.
The instrument was developed through NASA's Instrument Incubator Program that fosters the development of innovative remote-sensing concepts and the assessment of these concepts in ground, airborne or engineering model demonstrations.
The TWiLiTE checkout flights are being staged from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California, where NASA's two ER-2s are based.