Researchers Chase the Total Solar Eclipse Using NASA Jets

During the upcoming solar eclipse, NASA will have a unique opportunity to conduct several scientific experiments using the WB-57 aircraft. These specialized jets are capable of flying at much higher altitudes than commercial aircraft and can soar above the clouds, allowing them to avoid missing the eclipse due to bad weather conditions. By flying above most of Earth’s atmosphere, the cameras on board can capture clear images and wavelengths, such as infrared light, that are typically filtered out before reaching the ground.

One key advantage of using the WB-57 aircraft is their ability to travel at speeds of up to 460 miles per hour. This high speed allows the planes to extend the duration of time spent in the Moon’s shadow during the eclipse. While the eclipse will last no more than four and a half minutes at any given location on the ground, the aircraft will experience a longer eclipse lasting over 6 minutes and 22 seconds. This extended viewing time provides researchers with an unprecedented opportunity to gather more data and insights during this rare astronomical event.

NASA has funded several experiments that will utilize these specialized jets during the upcoming solar eclipse. One experiment will measure changes in atmospheric pressure during totality, while another will study how particles from Earth’s atmosphere interact with those from other planets. A third experiment will use a spectrometer on board to analyze wavelengths of light from distant stars.

The use of WB-57 aircraft during solar eclipses presents a unique opportunity for scientists to conduct experiments that would be impossible or extremely difficult using ground-based equipment. The high altitude and speed of these planes allow researchers to capture data and insights that would otherwise be lost due to atmospheric interference or limited viewing time.

In conclusion, NASA’s use of WB-57 aircraft during upcoming solar eclipses presents a unique opportunity for scientific research. With their ability to fly at high speeds and capture clear images and data from above Earth’s atmosphere, these specialized jets provide an unprecedented opportunity for scientists to study our planet and its surroundings in greater detail than ever before.

By Sophia Gonzalez

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