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NASA Mission Airborne Tools Suite to Support Two Major NASA Earth Science Field Campaigns
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NASA Mission Airborne Tools Suite to Support Two Major NASA Earth Science Field Campaigns

The NASA Airborne Science Program's Mission Tools Suite (MTS) has been tasked to provide distributed team situational awareness, real-time aircraft tracking, campaign product integration, and mission science-decision support for two major NASA Earth Science field campaigns: the East Pacific Origins and Characteristics of Hurricanes (EPOCH) field campaign, and the ObseRvations of Aerosols above CLouds and their intEractionS (ORACLES) Earth Venture Suborbital 2 (EVS-2) mission. For both of these campaigns, MTS has been configured with over a hundred separate satellite imagery; lightning, precipitation, forecast and modeling airspace products; and satellite prediction products provided by teams across NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), and through University partnerships.

Flights into Tropical Storm Franklin began Tuesday, August 8th for the EPOCH field campaign. The Global Hawk (N872NA) is instrumented with an X-band high-altitude RADar (EXRAD), a first for an unmanned aerial vehicle and in the evaluation of imaging the deep convection operating inside a tropical storm. The NOAA Advanced Vertical Atmospheric Profiling System (AVAPS), and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) High Altitude MMIC (Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit) Sounding Radiometer (HAMSR) that will accompany AVAPS, and MTS will be used to help provide operational quick-look products for tactical mission planning and execution during flight operations.

Also during the month, ORACLES will begin operations out of São Tomé island. The ORACLES project will use the NASA P-3 “airborne laboratory” aircraft to study the climate impacts of African biomass burning aerosols. MTS will help with P-3 flight tracking and coordination, and will also be used to coordinate with the British Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM) BAe 146 research aircraft. MTS will further assist with remote mission collaboration and instrument telemetry monitoring for team members here in the U.S.

BACKGROUND: The NASA Mission Tools Suite (MTS) is a web-based system used to assist with tactical decision-making and situational awareness during airborne science field campaigns. MTS is designed to encourage more responsive and collaborative measurements between instruments on multiple aircraft, satellites, and on the surface of the Earth in order to increase the scientific value of the measurements, as well as to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of flight missions. At its most basic, MTS provides a means for visualizing the real-time position of aircraft and airborne instrument status data in concert with satellite and modeling products during the course of the mission. MTS further provides solutions for customized meteorological and instrument visualization products, and integrated tools for education and public outreach activities.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Airborne Science Program

TEAM: Caitlin Barnes, Aaron Duley (Project Lead), Patrick Finch, Sandy Johan, Andrew Lindsay, Lionel Delmo Palmdale, Carl Sorensen, Eric Stith, Eugene Turkov, and David Van Gilst; Project and Program Support: Matthew Fladeland and Don Sullivan


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