NASA's Work Toward In-Cockpit Weather (Sort Of)
Among the many tasks that GA aircraft reliably take on, one that occurs quietly behind the scenes is their work as scientific research platforms. This winter, a high-flying ER-2 aircraft, which is a civilian variant of Lockheed's U-2, and a Cessna Citation II have been working out of Bangor, Maine, to help NASA scientists learn about the severe Atlantic coast winter storms called Nor'easters. The researchers hope to learn how to better predict the storms' behavior, to help improve aviation weather forecasts and ultimately save lives. The Citation is also carrying an experimental instrument that measures temperature, icing and wind speed, which could help to increase the weather information available to GA pilots in the cockpit. Nor'easters are created when cold air from Canada collides with warm air over the Atlantic, and they cause severe flooding and beach erosion, dump snow and ice, create hazards for ships and aircraft, and affect the weather in Europe.