Couldn't find element LayerAd

Error finding content

Research Aircraft - Windows to the Universe

Shop Windows to the Universe

The Spring 2011 issue of The Earth Scientist is focused on modernizing seismology education. Thanks to IRIS, you can download this issue for free as a pdf. Print copies are available in our online store.
This aircraft is a modified Gulfstream V jet and can carry 5600 pounds of weather instruments that collect data from the Earth's atmosphere. The aircraft is maintained and operated for the National Science Foundation by the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

Research Aircraft

Scientists sometimes travel in specially outfitted airplanes in order to gather data about atmospheric conditions. These research aircraft have special inlet ports that bring air from the outside into the plane so scientists can sample it and make measurements. Some research airplanes also carry radar and other special instruments.

Airplanes can collect information about many different components of the atmosphere, including aerosols, cloud physics, atmospheric chemistry, high level winds, and radiation. They can also carry camera to take photographs of clouds from up in the air. Scientists use the information gathered by aircraft to learn more about topics like how clouds form, the effects of air pollution in the atmosphere, and what causes turbulence.

Research aircraft can fly as high as 20,000 kilometers (approximately 65,000 feet). Ships can also carry instruments that gather data about the atmosphere, the ocean, weather, and climate.

Last modified June 11, 2010 by Becca Hatheway.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Cool It! is the new card game from the Union of Concerned Scientists that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change—and how policy and technology decisions made today will matter. Cool It! is available in our online store.

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Weather Radar

Radar is important to weather forecasters because it can detect rain and hail in clouds. The radar emits radio waves in all directions. When a radio wave hits water or ice particles, some of the energy...more

Aerosols: Tiny Particulates in the Air

Aerosols, also called particulates, are tiny bits of solid or liquid suspended in the air. Some aerosols are so small that they are made only of a few molecules – so small that they are invisible because...more

Atmospheric Chemistry of Earth's Troposphere

Chemistry plays an influential role in the behavior of the lowest layer of Earth's atmosphere, the troposphere. The various gases in the troposphere are constantly mixing with and reacting with each other....more

Wind

Wind is moving air. Warm air rises, and cool air comes in to take its place. This movement creates different pressures in the atmosphere which creates the winds around the globe. Since the Earth spins,...more

Radiation

Radiation comes in two basic types: electromagnetic radiation transmitted by photons, and particle radiation consisting of electrons, protons, alpha particles, and so forth. Electromagnetic radiation,...more

Aerosols and Cloud Formation

When clouds form they contain millions of water droplets in each cubic meter of air. Each of the cloud droplets forms on a particle; scientists call a collection of particles an aerosol. These particles...more

Air Pollution

What do smog, acid rain, carbon monoxide, fossil fuel exhausts, and tropospheric ozone have in common? They are all examples of air pollution. Air pollution is not new. As far back as the 13 th century,...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF