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NASA Specialists To Descend On Offutt

The ER-2 will simulate a satellite, and NASA and their science partners expect to collect data to improve algorithms used by weather satellites in the future.
by Staff Writers
Offutt AFN NE (AFNS) Apr 21, 2011
More than 20 NASA flight crew, ground crew and technicians are scheduled to arrive here late this month as the base's newest, if only temporary, members.

The team will bring a NASA ER-2 to participate in the Mid-latitude Continental Convective Clouds Experiment over Oklahoma. This U-2-based platform will contain several instruments to help in the MC3E mission, including an advanced microwave precipitation radiometer, a conical scanning microwave imaging radiometer, and a high-altitude imaging wind and rain airborne profiler.

"This experiment is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility and the NASA Global Precipitation Measurement mission Ground Validation program," said Chris Miller, the NASA mission manager for the ER-2 deployment.

"The objective is to document and monitor in 3-D not only precipitation, but also clouds, winds and moisture in an attempt to provide a holistic view of convective clouds, their environment and associated feedbacks."

The ER-2 will simulate a satellite, and NASA and their science partners expect to collect data to improve algorithms used by weather satellites in the future. NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement mission is one of the next generation of satellite-based Earth-science missions that will study global precipitation and is scheduled to launch in 2013.

"This will be the first time the NASA ER-2 aircraft will be operated from Offutt," said Maj. Bryan Rogers, the 55th Wing plans chief.

The base was chosen based on its available resources and location, Major Rogers added.

"(NASA's) objective is to overfly convective weather systems over a ground site in Oklahoma," he said. "It was important for them to be close enough to the target site to reduce transit time, but far enough away so airfield operations are not affected by the weather they are measuring."

Brig. Gen. Donald Bacon, the 55th Wing commander, said he is excited for Offutt's role in this unique opportunity.

"Supporting NASA will be a wing-wide effort," General Bacon said. "Communications, airfield operations, maintenance, security, (fuels), civil engineering and logistics have all leaned forward to make this possible. The 55th Wing relies on other units and organizations to help us accomplish our world-wide mission and we in turn are happy to assist others to do the same."

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