NASA flight over Lauder ‘like gold’
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.
The DC-8 airborne laboratory in flight.