Posted on YouTube by Dark Footage channel, the interesting video in this post features a picture showing the cockpit viewfinder in an ER-2 plane, operated by NASA. The airplane, a modified version of the famed U-2 used for scientific research, was capable of looking at a controlled fire burning near Flagstaff, Arizona, from nearly 70,000 feet. Such a powerful camera has not only come handy for military missions. It has also been useful for researching climate change and flying over hurricanes.
NASA operates two Lockheed ER-2 Earth resources aircraft as flying laboratories in the Airborne Science Program under the Agency’s Science Mission Directorate. The aircraft, based at NASA Armstrong’s Building 703 in Palmdale, CA, collect information about Earth resources, celestial observations, atmospheric chemistry and dynamics, and oceanic processes. The aircraft also are used for electronic sensor research and development, satellite calibration, and satellite data validation.
The ER-2 is a versatile aircraft well suited to perform multiple mission tasks. The ER-2 operates at altitudes from 20,000 feet to 70,000 feet, which is above 99 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere. Depending on aircraft weight, the ER-2 reaches an initial cruise altitude of 65,000 feet within 20 minutes. Typical cruise speed is 410 knots. The range for a normal eight-hour mission is 3,000 nautical miles yielding seven hours of data collection at altitude. The aircraft is capable of longer missions in excess of 10 hours and ranges in excess of 6,000 nautical miles. The ER-2 can carry a maximum payload of 2,600 lb (1,179 kilograms) distributed in the equipment bay, nose area, and wing pods.
The aircraft has four large pressurized experiment compartments and a high capacity AC/DC electrical system, permitting it to carry a variety of payloads on a single mission. The modular design of the aircraft permits rapid installation or removal of payloads to meet changing mission requirements.
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