One of two of NASA's Global Hawk unmanned aircraft flew over the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin and investigated the Saharan Air Layer in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean on Aug. 20 and 21.
NASA research aircraft began flights Aug. 12 from Houston's Ellington Field to investigate how the combination of summer storms and rising air pollution from wildfires, cities, and other sources can change our climate. Hoping to improve future predictions of climate change, scientists in the NASA study are using the skies over much of the southern United States as a natural laboratory this month and into September.
An eclectic assortment of sensors are installed on NASA's DC-8 and ER-2 aircraft to study how air pollution and natural emissions affect climate change.
NASA is investigating the loss of a small unpiloted aircraft over the Arctic Ocean Friday, July 26, while it conducted research on sea ice. The Sensor Integrated Environmental Remote Research Aircraft (SIERRA) was about four hours into a planned six-hour flight when it experienced a problem that caused it to lose altitude and crash in the ocean. The incident occurred at 6:15 p.m. AKDT (10:15 p.m. EDT).
The flight originated from Oliktok Point, off the northern coast of Alaska. The crash site is extremely remote, about 40 miles farther north in the Beaufort Sea. No one on the ground was injured. Environmental impacts at the crash site are expected to be minimal because of the aircraft’s small size. At the time, SIERRA had less than six gallons of fuel and oil aboard. A mishap investigation is underway.
The aircraft was one of three unmanned aerial vehicles taking part in a science experiment called the Marginal Ice Zone Observations and Processes Experiment (MIZOPEX). Mission objectives were to probe the ocean's role in recent declines in Arctic sea ice using a sophisticated set of radars and other instruments.
SIERRA was a medium-class, unmanned aircraft system with a wingspan of 20 feet and a weight of 400 pounds. It was designed to perform remote sensing and atmospheric sampling missions in isolated and often inaccessible regions, such as over mountain ranges, the open ocean, or the Arctic and Antarctic regions. NASA acquired SIERRA from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in 2006 and conducted its first mission surveying sea ice off the coast of Svalbard, Norway, in 2009. The vehicle was valued at $250,000.
For more information about SIERRA, visit:
For more information about the MIZOPEX mission, visit:
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
NASA's 2013 HS3 mission will investigate whether Saharan dust and its associated warm and dry air, known as the Saharan Air Layer favors or suppresses the development of tropical cyclones.
NASA's DC-8 and ER-2 science aircraft will take to the skies over the southern United States this summer to investigate how air pollution and natural emissions, which are pushed high into the atmosphere by large storms, affect atmospheric composition and climate.
The MASTER instrument on NASA's ER-2 high-altitude science aircraft captured this infrared image of the Powerhouse wildfire in the Angeles Forest near Lake Hughes, Calif., during a nighttime flight May 31-June 1.
NASA's HS3 airborne mission will revisit the Atlantic Ocean to investigate storms using additional instruments and for the first time two Global Hawks.
NASA's multi-year Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel, or HS3, mission may explore tropical cyclones of Cape Verde origins when it takes to the skies again this August.
Media are invited to view the USFS jet on the tarmac in front of the Moffett Tower and talk to USFS, NASA and CALFIRE personnel.
NASA-developed wildfire imaging sensor has begun test flights onboard a USFS aircraft in preparation for this year's wildfire season.
NASA Earth science researchers recently traveled to Turrialba Volcano, near San Jose, Costa Rica to study its chemical environment.
Middle schoolers explore how NASA utilizes unmanned aircraft and 21st century technology to investigate the Earth’s atmosphere and climate.
The USGS office in Menlo Park hosted a one-day meeting with staff from NASA Ames and Carnegie Mellon University (NASA Research Park) February 26. The meeting was the next step in a process to identify collaborative projects among the participants. Presentations from researchers and managers in the three organizations described research areas of potential common interest and discussed the benefits of, and obstacles toward collaboration. The meeting was also a follow-on to a visit to the facility on February 24 by managers from the Earth Science Division at Ames. That visit was to understand better the unique requirements of USGS for facilities in consideration of the potential move of the USGS Menlo Park offices and facilities to the NASA Research Park.
Warmer temperatures and changes in precipitation led to declining growth rates in eastern US forests between 2000 and 2010. Dr. Christopher Potter of Ames Research Center reached that conclusion after reviewing data from the first decade of this century collected by the MODIS sensor on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites and other data sources. The MODIS data showed declining density of green forest cover in four sub-areas – the Great Lakes, southern Appalachia, mid-Atlantic and southeastern Coastal Plain. The changers in forest density reflected climate data indicating a warmer and drier decade. Dr. Potter’s research was conducted under the National Climate Assessment and reported on in in the December 2012 edition of Natural Resources under the title, “Declining Vegetation Growth Rates in the Eastern United States from 2000 to 2012.”
The SIERRA UAV managed by Ames Research Center acquired hyperspectral data to map see grass beds and coral reefs in the Florida Keys. The SIERRA flights were the key element in the proposal, "High Resolution Assessment of Carbon Dynamics in Seagrass and Coral Reef Biomes" funded under the NASA ROSES 2011 solicitation element A.40 "Airborne Science: UAS Enabled Earth Science". The project was led by Dr. Stan Herwitz of the UAV Collaborative located in the Ames Research Park. For this mission, SIERRA flew a total of 12 hours on 5 separate days and collected over 320 gigabytes of data. The image attached is an example of the data collected by the hyperspectral imager. Analysis of the data will be conducted by a collaborative research team from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, University of South Florida, the USGS, and the Institute of Marine Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago. The project is part of a larger research program managed by the Galileo Group, Inc. SIERRA returned to Ames from this deployment in late October.