Scientists take off on historic mission to measure greenhouse gases that have an impact on climate

January 7, 2009

HIAPER, one of the nation's most advanced research aircraft, is scheduled to embark on an historic mission spanning the globe from the Arctic to the Antarctic.

Starting Jan. 7, 2008, the HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observations (HIPPO) mission will cover more than 24,000 miles as an international team of scientists makes a series of five flights over the next three years sampling the atmosphere in some of the most inaccessible regions of the world.

The goal of the mission is ambitious--the first-ever, global, real-time sampling of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses across a wide range of altitudes in the atmosphere, literally from pole-to-pole.

To date, much of our understanding of global atmospheric greenhouse gasses has been acquired from distant satellites, balloon launches, or highly sophisticated supercomputer models. HIAPER's pole-to-pole mission will, for the first time, give scientists real-time global observation data to correlate with those climate models.

HIAPER is short for the National Science Foundation's High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platfrom for Environmental Research. A modified Gulfstream V jet, it can fly at high altitudes for extended periods of time and can carry 5,600 pounds of sensing equipment, making it a premier aircraft for scientific discovery.

Source: National Science Foundation

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