Atmospheric Research Missions

HDSS (High Definition Sounding System)/HIRAD (Hurricane Imaging Radiometer)

Fall 2015

HDSS was a 100-hour flight campaign overflying Tropical Storm Marty (Pacific), Hurricane Joaquin (Atlantic: Cat 4), and Hurricane Patricia (Pacific: Cat 5) to collect very high resolution soundings of tropical cyclones with the intent of radically improving the understanding of tropical cyclones and the ability to predict their behavior. Significant accomplishments include: 1) most detailed set of tropical cyclone observations (including outflow, eyewall, eye, inflow) ever collected; 2) observations from 63,000 feet captured the entire structure of the storms for the first time; 3) observations were used in near-real time by the National Hurricane Center to refine official warnings. A total of 840 sondes were dropped into tropical cyclones during this campaign with a 99.5% success rate.


VIRGAS (Volcano-plume Investigation Readiness and Gas-phase and Aerosol Sulfur)

Fall 2015

VIRGAS was a multi-payload 30-hour airborne science flight campaign partially funded by the Upper Atmosphere Research Program (UARP) at NASA Headquarters. Sensors included the NOAA Water (H20), Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), and Ozone (O3) sensors, as well as NASA Ames and NCAR atmospheric measurement and sampling sensors.


HS3 (Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel)

Fall 2014

HS3 investigated the processes that underlie hurricane formation and intensity change in the Atlantic Ocean basin. The WB-57 was utilized at the end of the three-year flight campaign to gather additional storm data using the High-Altitude Imaging Wind and Rain Airborne Profiler (HIWRAP) and Hurricane Imaging Radiometer (HIRAD) instruments, as well as the High Definition Sounding System (HDSS), a new weather dropsonde instrument. Flying from Tampa, FL, all three instruments gathered valuable data from Category 4 Hurricane Gonzalo in October 2014.


Cosmic Dust Collection Documentary Filming

April 2012

NHK Japan Broadcasting Corporation filmed a portion of their "Cosmic Shore" documentary series at Ellington Field, TX.

The "Star Showers" episode features cosmic dust collection operations with the WB-57.

Cosmic dust collectors have flown on the WB-57 since 1981 to collect dust samples from comets and asteroids in Earth's upper atmosphere.


MACPEX (Mid-Latitude Airborne Cirrus Properties Experiment)

Spring 2011

MACPEX was a four-week airborne field campaign at Ellington Field, TX to investigate cirrus

cloud properties and the processes that affect their impact on radiation.


GRIP (Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes)

Summer 2010

The GRIP experiment was a NASA Earth Science field experiment that was conducted to better

understand how tropical storms form and develop into major hurricanes.


NOVICE (Newly-Operating and Validated Instruments Comparison Experiment)

Fall 2008

NOVICE was a series of test flights for airborne instruments that required initial flight after construction or required additional performance assessments after heavy modifications. Additional mature instruments provided the validated measurements of chemical species for the newer instruments. NOVICE was interrupted by Hurricane Ike when it passed through Houston.


TC4 (Tropical Composition, Cloud and Climate Coupling)

Summer 2007

TC4 was conducted in Costa Rica and investigated the structure, properties and processes of the tropical upper troposphere and tropopause transitional layer in the Eastern Pacific.


CR-AVE (Costa Rica-Aura Validation Experiment)

Winter 2006

CR-AVE was a mission designed to explore the tropical upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS) and to provide information for comparison to satellite observations.


AVE (Aura Validation Experiment)

Winter 2004 (Costa Rica), Fall 2004 (Houston), Summer 2005 (Houston)

AVE was a series of fields campaigns using aircraft and balloon flights to gather local atmospheric data used to validate remote measurements taken from the Aura satellite.


CRYSTAL - FACE (Cirrus Regional Study of Tropical Anvils and Cirrus Layers - Florida Area Cirrus Experiment)

Summer 2002

CRYSTAL-FACE was a focused mission of modeling, observations and integrated analyses designed to investigate tropical cirrus cloud systems and their roles in both regional and global climates.


CWVCS (Clouds and Water Vapor in the Climate System)

Summer 2001

The CWVCS mission was a two-week, remote site deployment to San Jose, Costa Rica. The objective was to attack unanswered scientific questions that lie at the intersection of atmospheric radiation, dynamics, chemistry, and climate.


ACCENT (Atmospheric Chemistry of Combustion Emissions Near the Tropopause)

Spring 1999, Fall 1999, Fall 2000

The ACCENT missions were multi-agency sponsored efforts to investigate the chemistry of rocket and aircraft emissions in the upper troposphere (UT) and lower stratosphere (LS). The ACCENT missions also collected near tropopause gaseous and aerosol data in the tropics and near and above hurricane Floyd.


WAM (WB-57 Aerosol Mission)

Spring 1998

WAM made measurements of the chemical composition of individual atmospheric aerosol particles, accompanied by particle sizing, gaseous tracer measurements, very accurate water vapor and total water, radiometric radiance measurements and fast response, and accurate measurements of pressure, temperature, and winds. The objective of the mission was to characterize the chemical composition of individual aerosol particles in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere as a function of size and gaseous composition of the air.


RISO (Rocket Impacts on Stratospheric Ozone)


In response to environmental concerns pertaining to the effects of launch vehicle emissions on stratospheric ozone, the RISO program was developed to obtain new and unique data on the chemistry and dynamics of stratospheric rocket exhaust plumes. Rocket plumes investigated include those of the Titan, Space Shuttle, Delta, Atlas, and Athena rockets. The data collected by the RISO program is being used to help assess the local and global response of the stratosphere to emissions from launch vehicles.

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