NASA's Sherpa

January 24, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

shorts c-23 sherpashorts c-23 sherpa

NASA's Shorts C-23 Sherpa is part of the NASA Airborne Science Program and is based at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.  This aircraft recently made a stop at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport during a transit to California.


According to NASA, the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s (GSFC) Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) Aircraft Office operates the NASA C-23 Sherpa research aircraft to support airborne science research.  The C-23 is used to perform scientific research, provide logistics support on an as-needed basis to other airborne science missions, and can be used as a technology test bed for new airborne and satellite instrumentation. This aircraft is also available to support range surveillance and recovery operations as needed.  The C-23 is a self-sufficient aircraft that can operate from short field civilian and military airports to remote areas of the world in support of scientific studies and other operations.


NASA's C-23 is seen here in the CARVE configuration to support NASA's CARVE mission.  According to NASA, the carbon budget of Arctic ecosystems is not known with confidence since fundamental elements of the complex Arctic biological-climatologic-hydrologic system are poorly quantified.  Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE) is collecting detailed measurements of important greenhouse gases on local to regional scales in the Alaskan Arctic and demonstrating new remote sensing and improved modeling capabilities to quantify Arctic carbon fluxes and carbon cycle-climate processes.  Ultimately, CARVE will provide an integrated set of data that will provide unprecedented experimental insights into Arctic carbon cycling.  CARVE is using the Arctic-proven C-23 Sherpa aircraft to fly an innovative airborne remote sensing payload.  It includes an infrared camera and a nadir-viewing spectrometer to deliver the first simultaneous measurements of surface parameters that control gas emissions (i.e., soil moisture, freeze/thaw state, surface temperature) and total atmospheric columns of carbon dioxide, methane, and carbon monoxide.  The aircraft payload also includes a gas analyzer that links greenhouse gas measurements directly to World Meteorological Organization standards.  Deployments occur during the spring, summer and early fall when Arctic carbon fluxes are large and change rapidly.  Further, at these times, the sensitivities of ecosystems to external forces such as fire and anomalous variability of temperature and precipitation are maximized.  Continuous ground-based measurements provide temporal and regional context as well as calibration for CARVE airborne measurements.


Information provided by NASA.


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