NASA scientists are using a Virginia lighthouse,
research aircraft and a satellite for a unique field study
this summer. On the sea, in the sky, and from outer space,
they are hoping for a better understanding of global climate

Led by NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, the
Chesapeake Lighthouse and Aircraft Measurements for
Satellites campaign, or “CLAMS,” started in early July.
Scientists are using equipment mounted on the U.S. Coast
Guard’s Chesapeake lighthouse about 15 miles off the coast
of Virginia Beach, VA, as well as instruments on six
research airplanes and the orbiting Terra research satellite
to enhance their knowledge of how the ocean affects the

“Ultimately, we are trying to improve our understanding of
the Earth’s climate,” said Langley researcher Bill Smith
Jr., the CLAMS lead mission scientist.

Scheduled through early August, CLAMS has as its major goals
to improve satellite-based estimates of aerosol measurements
and to measure ocean characteristics. This will create a
better understanding of how Earth maintains its overall
temperature or its energy budget.

Researchers fly the aircraft at the same time, one above
another to scan the ocean and sample air high into the
atmosphere. CLAMS is using the NASA OV-10, the NASA high-
flying ER-2, the University of Washington Convair 580, a
Proteus aircraft, a Learjet, and a Cessna during the
mission. Mission operations and some of the planes are
based at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island,

Scientists will combine measurements from aircraft
instruments and from the long-term CERES Ocean Validation
Experiment (COVE) at the lighthouse to improve information
from CERES (Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System)
and other instruments on NASA’s Terra satellite.

“CLAMS is focusing on understanding some important pieces of
the climate prediction puzzle, such as ocean properties and
atmospheric aerosols, so we can improve estimates of the
Earth’s energy budget,” Smith said.

The Terra spacecraft is part of NASA’s Earth Science
Enterprise, a long-term research effort dedicated to
understanding how human-induced and natural changes affect
our global environment.

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