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Alpha Jet Atmospheric eXperiment (AJAX)


AJAX Overview 

In 2007, a Space Act Agreement between NASA Ames Research Center and H211, LLC began a relationship that ultimately led to the formation of the Alpha Jet Atmospheric eXperiment (AJAX). Science measurement flights began in 2011 and AJAX is currently performing regular missions to measure ozone (O3), formaldehyde (HCHO), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and meteorological data over California and Nevada.
Unlike most NASA atmospheric airborne research missions, NASA’s flexible relationship with the aircraft provider allows Ames Research Center to collect data on a regular basis over multiple seasons, which complements surface and tower-based observations collected elsewhere in the region. It also allows AJAX to provide validation data for satellite sensors over months and years, to help assess the sensor health and calibration over its lifetime.
AJAX science has focused on the following over-arching objectives:

  • Performing long-term, routine measurements of atmospheric composition over CA and NV (e.g. Tanaka et al. 2016, Yates et al. 2017),
  • Providing rigorously-calibrated in situ data to support satellite validation efforts (e.g Kulawik et al., 2017, Tadic et al., 2014, Tanaka et al., 2016), and
  • Trace gas source identification over California and Nevada (e.g. Johnson et al., 2014, Ryoo et al., 2017, Ryoo et al., 2019, Yates et al., 2013, Yates et al., 2016)

AJAX supports NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) Science Team and collaborates with many research organizations (e.g. CARB, NOAA, USFS, EPA). AJAX celebrated its 200th science flight in 2016 and continues to fly on a regular basis to investigate topics as varied as stratospheric-to-tropospheric transport events, urban outflow calculating emissions from cities, forest fire emission plume sampling, satellite validation, atmospheric river events and investigating emission sources from gas leaks, oil fields, diaries and long-range transport of pollution from Asia to the western