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High Flying Research
08.13.03
 
The ER-2 is NASA's high-altitude environmental research jet, typically flown for atmospheric experiments and data gathering.

The mission of these flights is to monitor the environmental satellites in orbit, collect data focused on understanding climate changes and flying to remote locations where meteorites have fallen to Earth to see if particles can be collected for research.

High-altitude ER-2 The ER-2 is capable of soaring above 70,000 feet and with its high altitude photography can image large areas of the Earth's surface in a single flight. During this manned flight the ER-2 is generally in the air about six and one half hours, travels at a speed of approximately 467 miles per hour (410 knots) and covers about 2200 nautical miles.

At right is Lockheed's ER-2 high altitude research aircraft in flight

The ER-2 is built on the same body design as the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft. The long flexible wings are supported during taxi by auxiliary wheels called "pogos" which fall away, are retrieved, then stored for the next take-off. ER-2 is 30 per cent larger than the U-2 with a wingspan of 63 feet, twenty feet longer than its predecessor. This gives the aircraft the ability to carry more instrumentation and increases the number of experiments performed in a shorter period of time.

ER-2 frequently carries the Airborne Visible-Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS), a scanner designed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The data from AVIRIS is being used in the study of oceanography, environmental science, snow hydrology, geology, volcanology, soil management, aerosol studies and agriculture.

Pilot boards ER-2 Data gained from AVIRIS can be used to study the decrease in ozone over Antarctic and Arctic regions and environmental hazards such as toxic waste, oil spills, and land/air/water pollution. ER-2 is flying AVIRIS this month to support the Central Valley Land Use Mapping Project (CLUMP).

At left Pilot Dee Porter boards ER-2 for SAGE III Ozone Loss and Validation Experiment (SOLVE)

As the ER-2 provides imagery for natural disaster assessments it supports the developing of new methods of delivering real-time imagery to fire fighters and other disaster relief agencies.

The two ER-2's are based at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California's Mojave Desert. One took center stage at a NASA exhibit of AirVenture, an event of the Experimental Aircraft Association in Oshkosh, Wis. earlier this month.

For further information please visit: http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/Research/AirSci/ER-2/er2perf.html
 
 
NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center and John F. Kennedy Space Center