NASA has signed an agreement with Air New Zealand to equip one of its Q300 aircraft with special receivers to collect environmental monitoring data,media New Atlas reported. Air New Zealand hopes this will help scientists better understand hurricanes and tropical cyclones, but in the long run it will help track trends related to climate change.
The program is part of NASA’s Tornado Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) mission, launched in 2016 and collects scientific data from GPS satellites in tropical orbitto track wind speeds in the ocean. Compared to the undulating, wind-affected waters of the waves, it uses a reflective receiver to analyze how GPS signals are reflected back from calm sea surfaces.
By partnering with Air New Zealand, NASA hopes to extend these capabilities to land areas. NASA says its scientists have recently learned how the technology used by the CYGNSS satellite can also be used to monitor soil moisture, flooding and other changes in wetlands and coastal environments.
Gail Skofronick-Jackson, NASA CYGNSS program scientist, said: “The partnership with Air New Zealand provides a unique opportunity for NASA and the CYGNSS team to develop these accessibility features on land. Describe the long-term effects of climate change on these landscapes. “
The team has developed the next generation of reflective receivers for the project, the first of which will be installed in Air New Zealand’s Q300 aircraft later this year. When the aircraft is flying in various locations, some of its flight paths will overlap with areas covered by other CYGNSS satellites. In this way, some of the data it collects will also help validate and improve these other observations.
The program makes Air New Zealand the first commercial airline to collaborate with NASA on scientific data collection. With a total of 23 Q300s in the fleet, it is ready to adapt further to more aircraft through receiver technology. David Morgan, Air New Zealand’s chief operating safety officer, said: “As an airline, we have seen the impact of climate change, with flights affected by changing weather and storms. Climate change is the biggest sustainability challenge we face, so it’s incredible that we can use our day-to-day operations to achieve this world-leading science. “