"The A-Train satellites have been useful in giving us a broader view of air pollution than we've ever had before," said Kenneth Pickering, DISCOVER-AQ's project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "DISCOVER-AQ will help scientists interpret that data to improve air-quality analysis and regional air quality models."
Test flights are scheduled to start Jan. 16 with science flights continuing through mid-February. A four-engine P-3B turboprop plane from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., will carry eight instruments. A two-engine B200 King Air aircraft from Langley will carry two instruments. Sampling will focus on agricultural and vehicle traffic areas extending from Bakersfield to Fresno. The flight path passes over six ground measurement sites operated by the California Air Resources Board and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.
The 117-foot-long P-3B will fly spiral flights over the ground stations. These flights will be from an altitude of 15,000 feet to as low as 1,000 feet. They will sample air along agricultural and traffic corridors at low altitudes between the ground stations. The smaller B200 King Air will collect data from as high as 26,000 feet. The plane's instruments will look down at the surface, much like a satellite, and measure particulate and gaseous air pollution. The two airplanes will fly from NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif.
The DISCOVER-AQ mission is a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and University of California campus branches in Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, and Santa Barbara. Other partners in the California campaign include the National Center for Atmospheric Research; the University of Maryland in College Park and Baltimore County; University of Colorado, Boulder; Pennsylvania State University, State College; University of Innsbruck in Austria; and Millersville University, Millersville, Penn.DISCOVER-AQ is an Earth Venture mission, part of the Earth System Science Pathfinder program managed at Langley for the Earth Science Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. DISCOVER-AQ is one of several active airborne science missions being featured during a media day Jan. 25 at Dryden. Reporters interested in attending must register by Jan. 11 with Dryden's Public Affairs Office by email at DrydenPAO@nasa.gov or phone at 661-276-3449. For more information on DISCOVER-AQ, visit: