By Stevel Cole & Darryl Waller (NASA), 24 August 2016
NASA scientists and two research aircraft are on their way to a unique natural laboratory off the Atlantic coast of southwest Africa to study a major unknown in future climate prediction.
The coast of Namibia is one of three places on Earth with persistent low-level clouds, and the only such location with a steady supply of tiny aerosol particles in the form of smoke from inland fires that mix with the clouds. NASA's Observations of Aerosols Above Clouds and their Interactions (ORACLES) mission will observe and measure how these particles interact with clouds and change their ability to warm or cool the planet.
ORACLES is a collaborative research effort that involves more than a hundred scientists from five NASA centers, two national laboratories, 10 U.S. universities, and five African research institutions. It’s a multi-year NASA Earth Venture suborbital investigation to probe Earth system processes that are not completely understood. These flights from Namibia are the first of several planned field seasons for the mission. Earth Venture investigations are part of NASA's Earth System Science Pathfinder program managed at the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
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