AJAX Science Overview

Alpha Jet Airborne Experiment (AJAX)

Near-surface pollution is one of the most challenging problems for Earth observations from space. However, with an improved ability to monitor pollution from satellites, scientists could make better air quality forecasts, more accurately determine the sources of pollutants in the air and more closely determine the fluctuations in emissions levels. In short, the more accurate data scientists have at hand, the better society is able to deal effectively with lingering pollution problems.

AJAX is an Ames Research Center based experiment that utilizes an Alpha Jet platform aircraft to collect a variety of atmospheric chemical constituents and situational awareness.  These measurements are provided via "facility" instruments and collect CO2, CH4, O3 and uses the MMS system to measure pressure, temperature, turbulence index and the three dimensional wind vector. All instruments are located in the starboard wing pod.  Additional instruments are being reviewed and selections will be added to the payload to contribute to the science needs in 2014.  

AJAX has recently begun a series of upwind/downwind ozone profile measurements intended to address the inflow of ozone during a variety of weather patterns and seasonal cycles. Vertical profiles of ozone over the San Joaquin Valley, coupled with upwind profiles over the Pacific Ocean, provide direct mapping of the vertical and horizontal ozone concentrations offshore and inland, to better understand trans-Pacific pollution transport and its effects on air quality in California.

In a second type of science flight, vertical profiles of greenhouse gases over Railroad Valley, NV, are collected in support of the Greenhouse gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT) total column measurements. AJAX provides calibrated, in-situ altitude-resolved vertical profiles of CO2 and CH4 from 25,000 ft down to the surface. These data are converted into a format comparable to satellite findings before being compared to the column measurements provided by GOSAT.