Gulfstreams For Science

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Two Gulfstream GV business jets will undertake an unusual mission in the early morning hours of Sept. 1, when the two jets, privately owned by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, will carry scientists aloft to view an extremely rare Aurigid meteor shower. A brief shower of tens of meteors will radiate from the constellation of Auriga, many as bright as the brighter stars in the sky, according to NASA. The shower will be visible from the western U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Astronomers believe the whole event will last no longer than one-and-a-half hours and will not be seen again in our lifetimes. The Gulfstreams will launch from Moffett Field in California and carry scientists from NASA, the SETI Institute, Utah State University and other organizations to a location high above the Pacific Ocean. The jets will provide a total of 21 windows to view the meteors from altitudes up to 45,000 feet. The primary goal of the mission is to count the meteors over the large area visible from the airplanes and measure the exact duration and peak time of the shower. Scientists will observe how the meteors break up and examine their colors to learn about the materials that formed the solar system.