partlycloudy
Wednesday February 10th, 2016 1:18PM

Modified Cold War icon now being used to spy on weather

By The Associated Press
MACON, Ga. (AP) -- A Georgia Air National Guard building at Robins Air Force Base is currently serving as a NASA mission control.<br /> <br /> Since May 3, NASA has been flying the ER-2, a modified version of the U-2 high-altitude spy plane, on weather reconnaissance missions over North Carolina. From laptops at Robins, a crew of about 15 people preps the pilots and monitors the missions, which will continue until Monday. (See earlier story. Link below.)<br /> <br /> The crew is essentially storm chasing in an attempt to get better information about the dynamics of a thunderstorm, which hopefully will lead to better early warnings. The work involves sensors on the ground, a low-altitude plane, the ER-2 and a satellite.<br /> <br /> The aim is to get data on developing thunderstorms at every level of the atmosphere, said Chuck Irving, the mission manager. Ground sensors also measure how water from the storm flows into the ground.<br /> <br /> "What we are trying to do is get into a storm, looking at it from the ground up and looking at it from the top down," he said. "From ground to God is what we are looking at."<br /> <br /> The crew has been running missions about every other day, generally in conjunction with the presence of a thunderstorm and an overhead satellite.<br /> <br /> The ER-2 flies at 65,000 feet, about 12 miles up. The pilot, wearing what essentially is a space suit, breathes oxygen for an hour before takeoff in order to get properly pressurized before flying so high.<br /> <br /> Stu Broce, a retired U-2 pilot, was the pilot for a mission Wednesday. He said the missions aren't much different from those of the U-2, except he doesn't have to worry about landing in hostile territory if something goes wrong."<br /> <br /> This is the last time I get to scratch my face for a while," he said, rubbing his face before putting on the helmet.<br /> <br /> The mission was scheduled to last eight hours.<br /> <br /> Because of the plane's unique design, a chase car follows it down the runway on takeoff and landing. The landing is more important, as a chase car driver drops in behind the plane as it comes down and the driver guides the pilot down. It's necessary because the pilot can't see the runway.<br /> <br /> Ordinarily the chase car is a high performance sports car, like a Ford Mustang GT, but the NASA crew has been getting by with the best thing they could find in the Robins motor pool -- a Chevy Malibu.<br /> <br /> NASA has just two ER-2s, so it's a rare plane to spot. Anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of one probably won't be able to do so on takeoff, unless they work at Robins. That's because the plane gets high fast once it lifts off.<br /> <br /> (AccessNorthGa.com's Ken Stanford contributed to this story.)
© Copyright 2016 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 1 year ago )
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 1 year ago )
Sheriff: Man shot 2 on I-85 because he wanted car
A 22-year-old man shot two people who stopped to give him a ride on Interstate 85 in South Carolina on Christmas Eve because he wanted their car to drive to Georgia, a sheriff said Wednesday.
5:21PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Man faces 30 counts of animal cruelty in Forsyth County
A Forsyth County man faces multiple animal cruelty charges after authorities removed several dogs from a residence in the western part of the county earlier this month.
10:50AM ( 2 hours ago )
UPDATE: Mother, 2 daughters killed in Gwinnett County house fire
Authorities said a mother and her two young daughters have died in a house fire in Tucker.
By Associated Press
9:00AM ( 4 hours ago )
Forecasters extend winter weather advisory for north Georgia
Forecasters are extending a winter weather advisory for much of north Georgia over concerns about black ice forming on roads as light snow showers continued in the region.
By Associated Press
6:00AM ( 7 hours ago )
Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders swept to victory in Tuesday's New Hampshire primaries, adding crucial credibility to their upstart candidacies
MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders rode a wave of voter frustration with American politics to commanding victories in Tuesday's New Hampshire primaries, adding...
2:08AM ( 11 hours ago )
No serious injuries reported following house fire in central Hall County
No one was seriously injured when a fire broke out inside a Gainesville residence early Tuesday evening.
9:12PM ( 16 hours ago )