A mission looking to curb global warming is geared up to take flight.
The mission consists of a series of experiments conducted on an airplane. The study results will help scientists understand the behavior of carbon dioxide, one of the highest-impact greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, as well as other greenhouse gases.
The results will eventually lead to improved predictions about climate change.
On Wednesday at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield, NCAR scientist Britton Stephens gave a sneak peak of the project which takes place on an airplane. Local youngsters were there to learn and enjoy.
While the National Science Foundation jet was in Colorado, the children toured the scientist's laboratory. They asked questions, had the opportunity to play the role of co-pilot, and also got up close and personal with the scientist's future home for their mission.
The HIPPO Mission will bring a team of scientists together to help collect the data they need on greenhouse gasses.
The upcoming mission will be the second in a series of five missions that consist of multiple flights. The first mission took place in January and the 3 year field project won't wrap up until 2011.
HIPPO stands for Hiaper (high-performance instrumented airborne platform for environmental research) pole to pole observation. The gulfstream jet is owned by the National Science Foundation and is operated by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) based in Boulder.
During the mission, NCAR scientists will be joined by scientists from Harvard University, Princeton University and the University of Miami. The National Association For Atmospheric Research or NOAA and the SCRIPPS Institution of Oceanography also support the experiments within the research laboratory.
So far, The National Science Foundation has given about 4.5 million to the HIPPO Mission. NOAA is also helping fund the project.
Stephens said the next HIPPO mission has one main goal.
"The question we're trying to get at is where does all of the carbon dioxide go?" Stephens said.
After the jet flies out of Colorado the mission will on to Alaska then to the North Pole, down to Hawaii, on to New Zealand and back again.
Currently, researchers have a good idea where carbon dioxide in the atmosphere comes from.
"We know it's coming out of power plants and cars leading to concerns about global warming, but a lot of it is being taken up by the world's oceans and land plants," Stephens said.
Using the airplane will allow scientists to expand their knowledge of what future carbon dioxide levels will look like.
"The airplane allows us to take measurements from the surface to nearly 40,000 feet. By tracking the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere we can then determine where it's coming from and where it's going. It tells us a lot about what the concentration might be in the future," Stephens said.
During each of the missions, the scientists will follow similar flights, but at during different times of the year. The variation will give them a snapshot of greenhouse gas concentrations at different times of the year.
The next HIPPO Mission will last about a month.