NASA's G-III environmental research aircraft carries a pod-mounted synthetic aperture radar under its belly. (NASA / Tom Tschida) NASA's Gulfstream III aircraft with a synthetic aperture radar slung under its belly returned briefly to its base at the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., June 17 after participating in the 18-day Canadian Experiment for Soil Moisture in 2010, or CanEx SM10, mission in Saskatchewan, Canada.
After a brief weekend respite, it is due to fly to the Gulf of Mexico area June 22-24 for a brief series of radar imaging missions over the Gulf oil spill area, following up on previous imaging missions flown by NASA's ER-2 science aircraft with the AVIRIS spectrometer several weeks ago at the request of NOAA.
The CanEX SM10 campaign is a partnership between NASA and several Canadian government agencies and universities.
The NASA G-III carries an active L-band synthetic aperture radar, or UAVSAR, developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory that is capable of penetrating soil or water up to 50 mm beneath the surface while the aircraft flies at about 40,000 feet altitude.
› Read Dryden G-III manager Tim Moes' CanEX blog
› More on CanEX SM10
› NASA's soil moisture research efforts