Platform: NASA ER-2

Who: Investigators and mission support include NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and university and contract research organizations.

Photo: NASA

NASA operates two Lockheed ER-2 Earth resources aircraft as flying laboratories in the Airborne Science Program under the NASA Science Mission Directorate. The ER-2 high-altitude airborne Science aircraft used for this study is based at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) facility in Palmdale, CA.

The NASA ER-2 remains based at AFRC with ~70 science flight hours to participate in FIREX-AQ 22 July – 19 August 2019. The FIREX-AQ deployment base of operations in Boise, ID is reachable by the ER-2 from AFRC with a 4 hour loiter in an 8 hour flight mission. Flight planning priorities are:

  • Collocation with in-situ aircraft (NASA DC-8 and NOAA Twin Otters);
  • Coordination with satellite and ground monitors (including California Air Resources Board mobile platforms);
  • Active fires and large-scale (km-scale) smoke plumes suitable for multiple ER-2 overpasses coordinated with DC-8 in-plume sampling are preferred as primary targets.
ER-2 flies over the Ventura County CA fire Dec 2017
Photo: T. Williams, NASA

The goal for the NASA ER-2 is to serve as a bridge between in-situ and satellite datasets by using an airborne remote sensing instrument suite to help characterize fire development, emission processes, plume evolution, and downwind impacts on air quality. The primary objective (for addressing broad FIREX-AQ science goals) is to provide large-scale observational constraints for fire behavior, plume rise, and smoke emission models, while the specific objectives of this platform are to

  • Establish observational links between atmospheric conditions, fire temperature, smoke plume heights, and downwind smoke dispersion;
  • Characterize large-scale aerosol properties and trace gases profiles/amounts downwind from fires;
  • Evaluate multi-instrument synergy for fire process characterization.

NASA ER-2 Instrument Payload