Space agencies continue flights from Ramstein to study environmental effect of flight emissions
By MICHAEL B. KELLER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 1, 2018
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — NASA and German Aerospace Center scientists flew across Germany on Wednesday to gather data that scientists hope will help lessen the impact of flight emissions on ground temperatures.
Research scientists from both agencies flew on NASA’s DC-8 Airborne Science Laboratory to record air sample measurements taken from an array of sensors and intake valves on the “flying laboratory.”
The DC-8 flew in commercial flight corridors to test persistent condensation trails, or contrails, of various aircraft, engine types and fuel combinations.
Contrails form in aircraft exhaust at high altitudes because of low temperatures. These clouds of ice and soot create lingering cloud layers that can trap heat reflected from the earth’s surface, which then warms the ground at night.
The agencies are conducting flights in tandem through the skies over Europe to see how traditional jet fuel, blended with alternative fuels, changes contrails and potentially mitigates their environmental impact.