News Release 09-001
Scientists Take off on Historic Mission to Measure Greenhouse Gases That Have an Impact on Climate
January 7, 2009
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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, 2009, 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 gases across a wide range of altitudes in the atmosphere, literally from pole-to-pole.
To date, much of our understanding of global atmospheric greenhouse gases has been acquired from ground-based observations, 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 Platform 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.
HIPPO is a joint project funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and involving researchers from Harvard University, NSF's National Center for Atmospheric Research and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Britt Stephens, HIPPO Mission Co-Lead Researcher, describes the HIAPER flight path.
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Steven Wofsy of Harvard University describes the performance and importance of HIAPER.
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The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2020 budget of $8.3 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.