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Atmospheric Tomography Mission
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UCI’s Don Blake travels the world searching for what we breathe

Strapped into a NASA-modified DC-8, UC Irvine professor Donald Blake fiddles with some knobs on a crate that holds canisters that contain the key element of his career: Air.

Lab-in-a-Plane Making Four Laps Around the Globe

The project is called the Atmospheric Tomography Mission (the acronym AToM is pronounced AY-tom, since it's not actually an atomic study). Basically, it's a DC8, crammed full of samplers and sensors, constantly measuring things like methane, carbon dioxide, and pollutants, as the plane flies around the globe, zig-zagging up and down between 500 ft and 30-40,000 feet.

Cloudy with a chance of chemistry

The most important question at the daily briefing for NASA’s Atmospheric Tomography, or ATom, mission is: What are we flying through next? For the 30 scientists plus aircraft crew loaded up on NASA’s DC-8 flying research laboratory on a 10-flight journey around the world to survey the gases and particles in the atmosphere, knowing what’s ahead isn’t just about avoiding turbulence. It’s also about collecting the best data they can as they travel from the Arctic to the tropics then to the Antarctic and back again.

NASA's flying laboratory going low over Lauder, Central Otago

A NASA research plane carrying 42 scientists will fly over Central Otago next week on a mission to survey the atmosphere and measure 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.

NASA Plane Lands At Nadi Airport

In a first for Fiji, the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) DC-8 Airborne Science Laboratory aircraft landed at the Nadi International Airport on Saturday.

NASA research flight around the world pauses in Anchorage

Air pollution can be obvious when it is concentrated around cities and industrial centers. But what about the big parts of the atmosphere that are far from freeways or factories? Finding the answer to that question is the purpose of a NASA project that is sending an equipment-laden and scientist-packed DC-8 passenger jet around the world, over the middle of the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans, with brief stops in Anchorage and other locations.

NASA Airborne Mission Chases Air Pollution Through the Seasons

Earth is a planet that breathes with the seasons. In winter months atmospheric gases and air pollution accumulate, waiting dormant until spring and summer bring sunshine and plant-life, sparking transformations that change the make-up of gases in the atmosphere. A NASA airborne mission will take a world-wide survey of these seasonal transformations by flying from the heart of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, down into the sunny summer in the Southern Hemisphere and back again.

A CAT scan for the Earth: CU, NOAA scientists are looping around the globe in a NASA airliner to measure greenhouse pollutants

Scientists treating Earth as a feverish patient are giving it the equivalent of a CAT scan, targeting short-life pollutants that spur climate change to try to find a remedy that dials back the heat.

Organic aerosols in remote areas have shorter lives than scientists assumed

Ambient aerosols – those tiny mixtures of liquids and solids suspended in air – play important roles in Earth's climate, so much so that scientists are heading to remote locations to better understand them.

NASA's World Tour of the Atmosphere Reveals Surprises Along the Way

Two thirds of Earth's surface are covered by water — and two thirds of Earth's atmosphere reside over the oceans, far from land and the traditional ways that people measure the gases and pollutants that cycle through the air and around the globe. While satellites in space measuring the major gases can close some of that gap, it takes an aircraft to find out what's really happening in the chemistry of the air above the oceans.


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