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DC-8 supports Arctic mission
Feb. 2005
Aboard Dryden's DC-8 flying laboratory, an international team of scientists embarked on a journey in January to improve modeling of global-scale air quality and climate-change predictions through high-quality measurements of the Arctic region's atmosphere.

Image Right: Dryden's DC-8 recently completed a mission over the Arctic but in the above image it flies the warmer skies above the Antelope Valley. NASA Photo by Jim Ross Image Right: Dryden's DC-8 recently completed a mission over the Arctic but in this image it flies the warmer skies above the Antelope Valley. NASA Photo by Jim Ross

Researchers in the Polar Aura Validation Experiment gathered information that will validate data from NASA's Aura satellite, launched in July 2004. The PAVE is the third in a series of planned Aura validation and science missions aimed at better understanding the transport and transformation of gases and aerosols in the lower atmosphere (troposphere) and their exchange with those in the lower stratosphere. The mission began Jan. 24 and was completed Feb. 9.

"The DC-8 performed a number of specialized maneuvers to permit concurrent flights under the path of the Aura satellite and to sample ozone concentration at very high latitudes," said Walter Klein, Dryden's mission manager for the project. "The aircraft carried 13 instruments weighing more than 20,000 pounds, and a group of 40 scientists, engineers and technicians in support of PAVE."

"In addition to providing important validation for the various Aura data products, PAVE brings together a full NASA complement of space-based and suborbital measurements to study the atmospheric chemistry and transport of gases and aerosols in this sensitive region of our planet," said Dr. Michael Kurylo, program scientist for the PAVE at NASA Headquarters.

In particular, PAVE research focuses on the high-latitude (Arctic) region of the Northern Hemisphere, where, over more than a decade, winter chemistry has led to significant seasonal reduction of the stratospheric ozone layer. The ozone layer restricts the amount of the sun's ultraviolet radiation reaching the Earth. Depletion of this protective layer can have harmful effects on humans and other ecosystems.

The DC-8 flying laboratory and high-altitude balloons collected valuable science data, especially on ozone and ozone-destroying chemicals, using a suite of atmospheric remote sensing and in situ instruments. The mission was flown from Pease International Tradeport, Portsmouth, N.H. Balloons were launched from the European Sounding Rocket Range facility in Sweden.

Instruments aboard the DC-8 are characterizing upper tropospheric and stratospheric gases inside and outside the Arctic polar region to study ozone-depletion chemistry. Such flights also permit measurement of the outflow of gases from the North American continent, contributing to an understanding of how regional pollutants are distributed on a hemispheric basis. Scientists will make remote-sensing measurements (extending many kilometers away from the aircraft) of tropospheric and stratospheric ozone, aerosols, temperature, nitric acid, and other ozone-related chemicals. These are complemented by measurements (such as ozone, methane, water vapor, carbon monoxide, nitric acid and nitrous oxide) in the atmosphere immediately surrounding the aircraft.

NASA scientists from Dryden, Goddard, Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., are participating in the PAVE. PAVE partners include the University of New Hampshire; University of California-Berkeley; University of Bremen, Germany; the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colo.; the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory; the Koninklijk, Netherlands, Meteorological Institute and Los Gatos Research Inc., Los Gatos, Calif.

For more information about the PAVE on the Web, visit

For more information about the Aura mission, visit

Photos of NASA's DC-8 are available on the Web at

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Beth Hagenauer
Dryden Public Affairs
  Gretchen Cook-Anderson
NASA Headquarters