Image: Contrails carry clues to more eco-friendly flights

March 12, 2013
Credit: NASA/Eddie Winstead

Puffy white exhaust contrails stream from the engines of NASA's DC-8 flying laboratory in this image taken from an HU-25 Falcon flying about 300 feet behind.

NASA researchers have begun a series of flights using the agency's DC-8 to study the effects of alternate on engine performance, emissions and aircraft-generated contrails at altitude.

The DC-8 is using conventional JP-8 jet fuel, or a 50-50 blend of JP-8 and an alternative fuel of hydroprocessed esters and that comes from plants.

More than a dozen instruments mounted on the Falcon jet are characterizing the soot and gases streaming from the DC-8, monitoring the way exhaust plumes change in composition as they mix with air, and investigating the role emissions play in contrail formation.

Explore further: Is chicken fat biofuel an eco-friendly jet fuel alternative?

Related Stories

Chicken fat fuel emissions look cleaner, greener

April 27, 2011

NASA recently performed emissions testing on alternative, renewable fuels for a greener and less petroleum-dependent future. The search for alternative fuels is driven by environmental concerns as well as a desire for reduced ...

DC-8 flying lab validates laser instruments

August 11, 2011

( -- Twenty scientists went aloft aboard NASA’s DC-8 flying laboratory in late July to conduct an airborne test of four very different laser techniques for remotely measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide and ...

Recommended for you

Glider pilots aim for the stratosphere

November 20, 2015

Talk about serendipity. Einar Enevoldson was strolling past a scientist's office in 1991 when he noticed a freshly printed image tacked to the wall. He was thunderstruck; it showed faint particles in the sky that proved something ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Mar 13, 2013
One of the few bright spots after 9/11 was the incredible blue skies when the airliners weren't flying. Living near a large city, the far off whine of a fan jet and a cross-hatch pattern of contrials in the sky is a constant.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.