News of the WeekAtmospheric Research

NSF Draws Up Plans for $70 Million Plane

+ See all authors and affiliations

Science  11 Sep 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5383, pp. 1583-1584
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5383.1583

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Summary

Last month, the National Science Board, the policy-making body of the National Science Foundation (NSF), gave the nod to a new $70 million jet designed to probe Earth's upper atmosphere. That approval clears the way for the project to be included in NSF's fiscal year 2000 budget request, to be submitted next week to the White House. Backers of the project say the aircraft, called the High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research, will provide much-needed capability to explore the tropopause, the area between the upper and lower atmospheres that features a vital exchange of solar energy and contains the tops of thunderstorms and hurricanes, but about which little is known. Some scientists worry, however, that the cost of outfitting and operating the aircraft could drain money from smaller, university-based research programs, as well as from important upgrades to existing platforms.