We are more than content to report we are now halfway through the first CAST suitcase flight. The CAST instrument crew and pilots are in Chuuk, having a well-deserved rest and exploring the islands’ pristine beauty. Flight today included Guam to Chuuk survey and flying down south towards Equator and back to Chuuk.
Just to clarify, the planned first suitcase flight , scheduled on Wednesday/Thursday (22nd/23rd January), was cut short and essentially cancelled due to a tropical downpour and a few instrumental problems.
After a couple of hardships, involving Neil and Peter’s island hopping to Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, to be granted permission for the BAe-146 to land in Chuuk and a fairly unsuccessful first attempt of a suitcase flight on Wednesday, 22nd Jan, a highly anticipated first suitcase science flight kicked off today.
The flying plan was to air-cruise to Chuuk, have a stop over there to refuel the plane and then take off and fly down south towards Equator and back to Chuuk. Sunday, 26th, will start with a morning science flight en route to Equator and back, and then a safe flight back to Guam is expected.
This time CONTRAST’s Gulfstream V is not going to follow us as US fellows decided to fly up north, cross the jet stream and enter extra tropical upper troposphere-lower stratosphere, sampling the air out there.
Both parts (B825 and B826) of the suitcase flight today went smoothly, as the BAe-146 took off at 9ish am. The day commenced in the Ops Room at Hilton Hotel, where we were monitoring the chat with Mission Scientist 2 on the plane. James Lee, from University of York took the lead as a Mission Scientist 1. Dene Bowdalo (University of York), being a Mission Scientist 2, did an amazing job and reported all the scientific details exceptionally well during the flight.
The BAe-146 went airborne at 9ish am today, ascended up to 18 kft to do the first straight level run. A couple of profiles and straight level runs at 6 and 2 kft were done on the way to Chuuk. Last legs of this flight (B825) involved: sampling air at 1 kft (ozone values dropping exceptionally low up to 8 ppb level), flying over atolls, sampling boundary layer air, and profiling up to 5 kft till landing in Chuuk. Dene reported interesting preliminary data observations for ozone, step changes for dichloromethane and chloroform at different altitudes and latitudes, altitude-dependent variations in BrO and other halogenated species, good correlation of carbon monoxide and methane throughout both flights. B826 (Chuuk → Equator → Chuuk) started at 1.20pm. The ascend up to 18 kft was noted, followed by a couple of profiles down and performing straight level runs at 12 kft, 2 kft and 1kft to reach 2o00N, 152o51E (furthest point towards Equator). On the way back, the flight was mirrored starting from the ascent up to 18 kft, profiling down to 6 and 2 kft and landing safely in Chuuk at 4.35pm.
MACC forecasts for tomorrow morning science flight en route to Equator look optimistic. Lots of interesting chemistry to spot tomorrow for sure.
Weather should be on our side too. More to follow tomorrow. Stay tuned for flights B827 and B828!