High-Tech Lab with Wings

Monitoring the instruments inside the Gulfstream G-1
ensures accurate data collection during time-sensitive study flights.

DOE’s air-quality/climate studies rely on a specially outfitted Grumman Gulfstream G-1 aircraft owned by Battelle, a manager of both Brookhaven and Pacific Northwest national laboratories. From the outside, the twin-turbo-prop looks like any other small aircraft, except for a few small probes mounted on the nose cone and fuselage. But inside you’ll find $3-4 million worth of specialized equipment to sample the atmospheric stew, plus navigational and meteorological tools to track where the samples are coming from and the conditions under which they were collected. Some of the high-tech tools include:

  • UV fluorescent instruments to monitor carbon monoxide levels
  • Pulsed fluorescence spectrometers to track sulfur dioxide
  • Ozone chemiluminescent instruments to measure nitrogen oxides
  • Gas chromatograph for monitoring volatile organic compounds
  • Integrating nephelometer for measuring aerosol light scattering
  • Light scattering and particle mobility instruments for measuring the number and size of particles in the atmosphere
  • Mass spectrometers and liquid sampling techniques for determining the chemical composition of aerosols in the mix
  • Pyranometers to measure ultraviolet and visible radiation
  • Thermometers, chilled mirrors, and gust probes, for monitoring air temperature, dew point/frost point, and wind direction and speed
  • GPS (global positioning system) and a barometer for tracking the plane’s position and altitude
  • Differential pressure transducer for keeping tabs on air speed