NASA's most advanced science project of year taking off from Ellington

Scientists are using a DC-8 and a high altitude ER-2 as flying laboratories

By Ryan Korsgard - Reporter

HOUSTON - NASA's most advanced science project of the year is taking off from Ellington Field.

Scientists are using a DC-8 and a high altitude ER-2 as flying laboratories.  Flying experiments out of Ellington Field for the next two months, what the scientists learn could help us better understand our air quality and climate.

"There are still issues over air quality in Houston," said Brian Toon, the lead scientist for SEAC4RS.

He told Local 2, "In the last five to 10 years, there have been several programs that have measured the air quality and discovered. For example, that there is a lot of leakage going on from tanks and petrochemicals."

The research project combines information from satellites, aircraft and balloons to help scientists better understand our world.

"When you fly above 50,000 feet, the pressure is so low up there, that the liquids in your body would actually boil," said Dan Neeley, an ER-2 Research Pilot.

He told Local 2 that it's a tricky plane to fly and to land.  He said, "With 105 foot wingspan, you have to balance those wings. It's almost like being a tight rope walker.

The flights over the southern United States will continue from Ellington Field through the end of September.

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