NASA flight over Lauder ‘like gold’

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

All eyes pointed to the sky in Lauder on Tues­day, keen to see a NASA re­search plane car­ry­ing 42 sci­en­tists fly over as they sur­veyed the at­mos­phere and mea­sured pol­lu­tion.

NIWA at­mo­spheric sci­en­tist Dave Pol­lard said the At­mo­spheric To­mog­ra­phy Mis­sion (ATom) was the first of its kind to sur­vey the at­mos­phere over the oceans, mea­sur­ing how much pol­lu­tion sur­vived and as­sess­ing how the en­vi­ron­ment had changed as a re­sult.

On Tues­day, the flight path took the plane from Amer­i­can Samoa south to New Zealand, where it landed in Christchurch after pass­ing over NIWA’s at­mo­spheric re­search sta­tion at Lauder.

Sci­en­tists at Lauder were com­mu­ni­cat­ing with sci­en­tists on board the plane as they each took a se­ries of at­mo­spheric mea­sure­ments si­mul­ta­ne­ously to make com­par­isons. The mis­sions were ‘‘like gold’’, Pol­lard said.

‘‘We will be very pleased to get their in­for­ma­tion. We’ll be mea­sur­ing ev­ery­thing we can.’’

Sci­en­tists on board NASA’s DC-8 fly­ing lab­o­ra­tory were mea­sur­ing air­borne par­ti­cles, known as aerosols, and more than 200 gases in each sam­pling area. The data would be used to un­der­stand where the pol­lu­tants orig­i­nated and how they re­acted and even­tu­ally dis­ap­peared from the at­mos­phere.

NASA/CARLA THOMAS

The DC-8 air­borne lab­o­ra­tory in flight.

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