Hinterland Green

Sunday, April 11, 2010

NASA's Global Hawk Completes First Science Flight Over the Pacific

NASA/Dryden/Carla Thomas
From NASA:

NASA pilots and flight engineers, together with colleagues from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have successfully completed the first science flight of the Global Hawk unpiloted aircraft system over the Pacific Ocean. The flight was the first of five scheduled for this month's Global Hawk Pacific (GloPac) mission to study atmospheric science over the Pacific and Arctic oceans.

The Global Hawk is a robotic plane that can fly autonomously to altitudes above 60,000 feet (18.3 kilometers) -- roughly twice as high as a commercial airliner -- and as far as 11,000 nautical miles (20,000 kilometers) -- half the circumference of Earth. Operators pre-program a flight path, and then the plane flies itself for as long as 30 hours, staying in contact through satellite and line-of-site communications to the ground control station at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California's Mojave Desert.

"The Global Hawk is a revolutionary aircraft for science because of its enormous range and endurance," said Paul Newman, co-mission scientist for GloPac and an atmospheric scientist from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "No other science platform provides this much range and time to sample rapidly evolving atmospheric phenomena. This mission is our first opportunity to demonstrate the unique capabilities of this plane, while gathering atmospheric data in a region that is poorly sampled."

GloPac researchers will directly measure and sample greenhouse gases, ozone-depleting substances, aerosols, and constituents of air quality in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. In yesterday's flight, the plane flew approximately 4,500 nautical miles (8,300 kilometers) along a flight path that took it from Dryden to 150.3 degrees West longitude and 54.6 degrees North latitude, just south of Alaska's Kodiak Island. The flight lasted 14.1 hours and flew up to 60,900 feet (18.6 kilometers) in altitude.

Read more:  NASA's Global Hawk Completes First Science Flight Over the Pacific
blog comments powered by Disqus