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NASA G-III Completes Successful Flights in Hawaii

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The NASA Gulfstream-III aircraft returned to Palmdale, Calif., onTuesday May 10, 2011 from a successful nine-day mission to the Big Island ofHawaii.  The goal of the missionwas to image volcanoes on the Big Island and map surface deformations on Oahu,Molokai, and Maui using an airborne radar system installed in the G-III calledthe Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic ApertureRadar (UAVSAR).  

G-III flight crew and scientists on May 2, 2011 at Kona International Airport (Image Credit: Bradley Pacific Aviation)

Seven science flights totaling 39.3 hours were flown overthe nine-day deployment.  “These repeat data acquisitions will allow us to image thesurface displacement from the March 2011 Kilauea fissure eruption along itseast rift zone at unprecedented resolution” said Paul Lundgren, NASA JetPropulsion Laboratory research scientist and principal investigator of thevolcano study.  Future plans are to return to Hawaii at roughly year-longintervals (or sooner if new significant eruptive activity occurs). UAVSARprovides unique data than can improve our understanding of eruption source processes.   The data collected on thismission will provide a basis for comparison with future missions flown inresponse to new or impending volcanic eruptions.

The G-III flies at 41,000 ft to collect airborne radar data.  A break in the clouds allowed Tim Moes onboard the G-III to take this image of the snow-covered summit of Mauna Kea (14,000 ft) with its many astronomical observatories