NASA, NOAA using Salina airport as base for cross-country study on wildfires

Published: Aug. 21, 2019 at 7:09 PM CDT
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NASA and the National Organization and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are spending the next two weeks in Salina, researching how wildfires and agricultural burns impact air quality, weather and climate.

NASA and NOAA study fires across the country using satellites and a large aircraft called the DC-8. This plane, the largest flying laboratory in the world, allows scientists to safely get up-close views of large fires.

"The DC-8 is a reconfigured flying laboratory. So, it's robust in the manner that we can take off instruments and put on all new ones in a month or two," explains NASA research pilot Greg Slover.

Instruments outside the plane's windows help measure gasses like ethanol and aerosol from the fires, as well as greenhouse gases.

The Salina airport serves as a prime spot for the DC-8 to operate. The city's central location allows scientists to conduct research in any part of the country in a single mission.

Researchers say the Salina airport's runway and lack of heavy airport traffic make it a suitable location for the campaign.