One of two Global Hawk high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) the U.S Air Force gave NASA in 2007 took off Oct. 23 for its first flight under NASA operation. The UAV, to be used for Earth science research, flew four hours during a flight check in restricted airspace over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., NASA’s co-located Dryden Flight Research Center said in a press release.

NASA’s Earth Science Division plans to use the Global Hawks for science missions requiring high-altitude, long-endurance, long-distance airborne capability. The first Earth science mission will be a six-flight campaign with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to collect atmospheric data that will help with the calibration of instruments and validation of data from NASA’s Aura Earth observing satellite.