Climate science is a little bit like me and books: I can never get enough of them, and appreciate lots and lots of them. For climate science though, it’s a case of getting more and more data, from as many possible sources as humanly possible.
And now, thanks to Virgin Galactic, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will be getting a bit more data to continue their never ending quest to understand planet Earth.
Virgin Galactic is a company within Virgin Group, and is based around the idea of providing sub-orbital spaceflights to the paying public. Galactic also hopes to, eventually, provide orbital spaceflights as well, and is continually investing in research and technology that might one day see that dream come true.
On July 28, 2008, Sir Richard Branson unveiled the scaled composites model 348two WhiteKnightTwo, a jet powered carrier aircraft which will be the first stage in launching the SpaceShipTwo spacecraft. WKT will carry the passenger rocket to a height of about 15 kilometers, at which point SST will disengage and begin its self-powered flight.
NOAA announced a deal on Tuesday with Virgin Galactic that will see both WKT and SST equipped with sensors and monitoring systems. Their purpose will be to monitor carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere.
But for NOAA, this is not just a case of more eyes being better. The Virgin Galactic craft fly at altitudes that, currently, are understudied. Subsequently, NOAA will be able to benefit greatly from the data sent back from WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo.
Image Source: Virgin Galactic
Source: Virgin Galactic