NASA has successfully completed the first science flight of the Global Hawk unpiloted aircraft system over the Pacific Ocean. The flight was the first of five scheduled for this month’s Global Hawk Pacific, or GloPac, mission to study atmospheric science over the Pacific and Arctic oceans.
The Global Hawk is a robotic plane that can fly to altitudes above 60,000 feet, and as far as 11,000 nautical miles. Operators pre-program a flight path, then the plane flies itself for as long as 30 hours.
GloPac researchers plan to directly measure and sample greenhouse gases, ozone-depleting substances, aerosols, and constituents of air quality in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere.
During its inaugural flight, the plane flew approximately 45-hundred nautical miles. The mission is a joint project with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.