Hosting NASA and WTJX

WTJX was out at Bohlke International Aviation to interview Deputy Program Scientist Aaron J. Piña and Lead PI Shuyi Chen of NASA’s Earth Science Division about their Convective Processes Experiment – Aerosol and Wind campaign. Listen to the interview on Analyze This with Neville James.

NASA’s press release: NASA’s DC-8 Deploys to the U.S. Virgin Islands

Photo caption: NASA’s DC-8 taking off to St. Croix in support of the Convective Processes Experiment – Aerosols and Winds campaign (CPEX-AW) on Aug 17, 2021. Credits: NASA / Joshua Fisher

NASA’s DC-8 aircraft deploys to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Aug. 17 after more than six months of preparation and instrument upload.

As part of the Convective Processes Experiment – Aerosols and Winds campaign, CPEX-AW, NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center prepared the airborne science laboratory for the 45-day deployment to St. Croix, US Virgin Islands with a series of test flights earlier this month.

The campaign, which is a joint effort between NASA and the European Space Agency, aims to gather critical data about tropical convection processes. Instruments on NASA’s DC-8 will measure winds, aerosols, precipitation, and other conditions that influence convection from the west to east coast of the Atlantic Ocean near the Equator.

NASA’s DC-8, based at the agency’s Armstrong Flight Research Center Building 703 in Palmdale, California, is flown to collect data for experiments in support of projects serving the world’s scientific community.

From the interview: What is NASA doing on St. Croix?

A team of 10-20 scientists with a range of objectives will be based on St. Croix through the end of September. They will be researching things like how clouds are forming in the tropics and how clouds in the tropics interact with the Saharan air wave. While they are here, a European satellite will be directly above the Caribbean and they plan to do a fly under. Also planned is a day trip to the west coast of Africa.

St. Croix is an ideal location for this mission because we offer quick runway access, vs. other islands with more commercial flights, and our runway is long enough to accommodate the DC-8. Deputy Piña and Lead PI Chen also shared that they are receiving excellent support from the airport.

In addition to research conducted from their aircraft, the NASA team is taking measurements from the ground up using a balloon. They are measuring meteorology conditions, including temperature, moisture, and winds because, they say, weather here influences weather and climate globally.

Listen to the interview to learn more about “dry air” and “wind shear” and what they mean for hurricane conditions.

Of course, it can’t be all work and no play on St. Croix! Deputy Piña and Lead PI Chen shared that they are looking forward to exploring the island. They hope to do some hiking, swimming and diving, with hopes of seeing some rays — and find some good coffee shops!