NASA Global Hawk Drone

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The latest airborne science campaign scheduled for NASA and a host of partners is now ready to get underway, with the arrival of one of the American space agency’s unmanned aerial systems (UAS) at the Anderson Air Force Base, in Guam, on January 16, 2014.

The Global Hawk, tail number 872, arrived in Guam at 5 pm EST (2200 GMT) last Thursday, and was able to begin airborne studies of the upper atmosphere on Tuesday, January 21. The drone is used for the multi-year Airborne Tropical Tropopause Experiment (ATTREX).

The experiment focuses on the stratosphere, a layer of the atmosphere that can have significant impacts of global climate patterns after suffering only minute changes. Understanding the physical processes that go on in the stratosphere will help experts improve their climate models considerably.

“We conducted flights in 2013 that studied how the atmosphere works and how humans are affecting it. This year, we plan to sample the western Pacific region which is critical for establishing the humidity of the air entering the stratosphere,” says ATTREX principal investigator Eric Jensen, who is based at the NASA Ames Research Center, in Moffett Field, California.

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