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NASA sends research aircraft to Taiwan for Asia air quality project

02/28/2024 04:18 PM
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Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Environment Feb. 28, 2024
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Environment Feb. 28, 2024

Taipei, Feb. 28 (CNA) NASA deployed a research aircraft to Taiwan again on Wednesday to help Taiwan improve its air quality management, following a flight on Feb. 15, the Ministry of Environment said in a statement.

The ministry said NASA was set to send two aircraft - a DC8 and a GIII - however, the DC8 experienced engine overheating, leading to only the GIII being deployed to Taiwan.

The GIII will provide high-resolution precision data regarding the causes of air pollution and changes in the three-dimensional distribution characteristics of pollutants, the ministry said.

As part of a project monitoring air quality across Asia, NASA has deployed research aircraft to parts of Taiwan, the ministry said in a previous statement.

The ministry added that the research aircraft had to operate under stable weather conditions and with complete preparation. Since it was snowing in Korea on Feb. 23, NASA canceled its original flight to Taiwan that day, it said.

Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Environment Feb. 28, 2024
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Environment Feb. 28, 2024

Hsieh Ping-huei (謝炳輝), head of the ministry's Department of Monitoring and Information, told CNA that although the DC8 could not operate on Wednesday, the GIII aircraft, which arrived in Taiwan at around 10 a.m. Wednesday, has been working normally and has collected relevant data with all other ground monitoring.

According to the ministry, the GIII is cruising at 28,500 feet (8,600 meters) between central and southern Taiwan to analyze the topography and observe the change of atmospheric circulation and air pollutants in the Kaohsiung and Pingtung areas.

Through data collection, relevant agencies could develop measures and strategies to help improve Taiwan's air quality monitoring and management, the ministry said.

Regarding the research aircraft, Hsieh said DC8 is slated for retirement this year, making this project potentially its last.

Hsieh noted that the ministry will continue to collaborate with NASA to send research aircraft to fly past Taiwan. However, since NASA's Asia base is in Pyeongtaek, Korea, its schedule has to align with local flights and make negotiations with the defense side.

As a result, the next flight to Taiwan has not been confirmed yet, Hsieh said.

(By Chang Hsiung-feng and Evelyn Yang)

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