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Altus II high altitude science aircraft decending toward U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii The Altus II remotely piloted aircraft carried a variety of specialized instruments and cameras during a lightning study over Florida during the summer of 2002.

Photo Number: EC02-0162-54
Photo Date: July 12, 2002

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Looking ever so much like an alien spacecraft, the Altus II remotely piloted aircraft shows off some of the instruments and camera lenses mounted in its nose for a lightning study over Florida flown during the summer of 2002.


The Altus Cumulus Electrification Study (ACES), led by Dr. Richard Blakeslee of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, focused on the collection of electrical, magnetic and optical measurements of thunderstorms. Data collected will help scientists understand the development and life cycles of thunderstorms, which in turn may allow meteorologists to more accurately predict when destructive storms may hit.

The Altus II, built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., is one of several remotely operated aircraft developed and matured under NASA's Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology (ERAST) program. The program focused on developing airframe, propulsion, control system and communications technologies to allow unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to operate at very high altitudes for long durations while carrying a variety of sensors, cameras or other instruments for science experiments, surveillance or telecommunications relay missions.

NASA Photo by: Tom Tschida


Altus II, Altus Cumulus Electrification Study, ACES, Dr. Richard Blakeslee, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., Marshall Space Flight Center, National Space Science and Technology Center, unmanned aerial vehicle, UAV, thunderstorms

Last Modified: September 17, 2002
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