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NASA - NASA's DC-8 Flying Laboratory Supporting AMISA Science Mission
August 12, 2008

NASA's DC-8 airborne science laboratory departs Plant 42 in Palmdale for Kiruna, Sweden NASA's DC-8 airborne science laboratory departs Plant 42 in Palmdale for Kiruna, Sweden where it will be based during the AMISA environmental science mission. Photo courtesy Jim Mumaw. NASA's DC-8 airborne laboratory is currently flying a series of missions in the Arctic between Scandinavia and Greenland as part of the Arctic Mechanisms of Interaction Between the Surface and Atmosphere (AMISA) mission, a NASA Earth Sciences program in support of the International Polar Year science project.

The unique flying science laboratory departed the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 7, on a 10.5-hour flight to Kiruna in northern Sweden, where it will be based for the duration of the three-week deployment. During the course of the AMISA mission, the converted former long-range jetliner is flying a payload of passive radiometers, aerosol sampling instruments and dropsondes to acquire atmospheric and sea ice data over the Arctic ice cap.

Many of the flight tracks over the Greenland sea passage to the Arctic Ocean will take the aircraft over the Swedish icebreaker Oden, a research vessel that is stationed in the Arctic ocean at 88° north latitude, 0º longitude. Sweden is sponsoring the AMISA-affiliated Arctic Summer Cloud-Ocean Study (ASCOS) campaign aboard the Oden.

The team of scientists aboard the airborne laboratory are seeking to safely and efficiently acquire atmospheric and surface interaction data during Arctic sea ice freezeup during the campaign, according to principal investigator Albin J. Gasiewski. Gasiewski, director of the Center for Environmental Technology that is jointly operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado at the university's Boulder campus, said the AMISA mission's goal is to understand the sea ice and atmospheric radiation processes leading to Arctic sea ice freezeup.

When on the ground in Kiruna, the DC-8 and its team of scientists and flight crew are housed in the Arena Arctica. The large hangar and environmental science facility served as the deployment site for two previous science field campaigns involving the DC-8, the SOLVE campaign in 2000 and the SOLVE-III campaign in 2003.

The AMISA mission is also supported by the National Suborbital Education and Research Center operated by the University of North Dakota.

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