ARCTAS mission status update, April 3, 2008
The first data gathering flight in the ARCTAS atmospheric science
mission was completed Tuesday, April 1 by NASA's DC-8 airborne
laboratory while in transit from its base at the NASA Dryden Aircraft
Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., to Fairbanks, Alaska.
Mission scientists aboard the flying laboratory attempted to sample
atmospheric pollution coming from Asia and validated data from space
satellites while flying at a variety of altitudes ranging from 500
feet to 34,000 feet above sea level while flying over the Pacific
Ocean off the western coast of the United States. The converted
jetliner landed at Fairbanks, from where many of the ARCTAS missions
will be flown over the next few weeks, about seven hours after
The next ARCTAS flight for NASA's DC-8 airborne laboratory is
scheduled for Friday, and will take the mission scientists and their
suite of 22 sophisticated instruments over the Arctic expanse to
Thule, Greenland, with the return flight on Saturday, April 5.
Additional missions are being flown by two other NASA science
aircraft, a P-3 Orion based at Wallops Flight Facility and a B-200
King Air from Langley Research Center.
ARCTAS -- an acronym for Arctic Research of the Composition of the
Troposphere from Aircraft and Satellites -- is a major science field
campaign in 2008 to study the atmosphere in the Arctic and high
northern latitudes as part of the International Polar Year, a major
scientific research effort.
The ARCTAS investigation is intended to improve understanding of how
the composition of the Arctic atmosphere is influenced by long-range
transport of pollution from lower latitudes and local emissions from
boreal wildfires and their impact on Arctic quality and climate.
Validation of the NASA satellites that continuously monitor the global
atmosphere is also a major focus of this mission.