Latest Task for Drones: Study Earth's Ozone Layer
Global Hawk will survey the tropopause
By Mark Russell, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2013 8:43 AM CST
A file photo of the Global Hawk, which will be used by NASA for scientific research, being unveiled at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

(Newser) – Today's science vocab lesson: tropopause. It's the atmospheric boundary between the troposphere, where ozone exists as a harmful greenhouse gas, and the higher-up stratosphere, where the same gas plays an important role in protecting the Earth from the sun's UV rays. And that boundary region is about to get some attention from a drone. Later this month, NASA will begin a multi-year study during which an unmanned Global Hawk drone will fly into the tropopause, typically found about eight to 11 miles above Earth—to study how water vapor and ozone interact, reports LiveScience.

Scientists suspect that big storms sometimes push water vapor up into the stratosphere, where chemical reactions between water and free radicals may destroy the protective ozone. But because no one fully understands what goes on in the tropopause, scientists also don't know much much water vapor makes it into the stratosphere or what happens to it. The hope is that the Airborne Tropical Tropopause Experiment will fill in those blanks.

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Showing 3 of 13 comments
Jan 13, 2013 1:13 PM CST
This simple science yields exceedingly more useful information than landing on Mars. We should be concentrating on science closer to home. NASA has wasted enough "research" money already.
Jan 13, 2013 1:01 PM CST
What a beautiful aircraft.
Jan 13, 2013 12:14 PM CST
(R) 2014 & 2016 Gov. RICK PERRY Report: Also, once we design the next generation Tank, we also research the anti-Drones to experiment an object dropped from the air increasing speed(s) all the way to the ground in Physics theory; we'll install a Laser weapon rotated on a 360-degree and Vector robotic arm to shoot the dropping water-balloon or an egg. To fire a Laser ought to faster than an air-to-ground missile to hit a tank from a Drone. The next generation American tanks production-lines will be built in Ft Worth, Texas. Yeah, professor, that's more fun to research Laser to fire a rock when we were in Graduate School ! Texan are old Ron (Ronald Reagan) fans. Iran is cloning our American Drone.