4.2 History of atmospheric sciences at Langley Research Center

Tuesday, 25 January 2011: 4:45 PM
4C-4 (Washington State Convention Center)
G. Louis Smith, LRC, Hampton, VA; and R. DiPasquali and G. G. Gibson

Langley Research Center was created as an aeronautical laboratory in 1917 as part of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. Atmospheric Science was outside the purview of LaRC until the National Space Act of 1958 created NASA, which included all facilities of NACA. One major exception was participation in the Thunderstorm Project, for which engineers of LaRC instrumented USAF P-61 aircraft which would fly into thunderstorms.

After the formation of NASA, Langley did not get involved in atmospheric Sciences until the flight of the Stratospheric Aerosol Measurement SAM instrument on an Apollo mission. Following this proof-of-concept test, the SAM II instrument was developed by LaRC and flown on the Nimbus 7 spacecraft in 1978. The Limb Infrared Monitor of the Stratosphere LIMS also was developed by LaRC and flew on the Nimbus 7. The Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences Division was formed for the development of these instruments and the processing of the resulting data as well as exploiting these data for investigations. The Earth Radiation Budget Experiment was funded in the same year, to be conducted by LaRC. The Lidar In-space Technology Experiment LITE flew on the Space Shuttle STS-64 mission in 1994 to demonstrate the uses of a lidar in space. These instruments and their successors over the years will be discussed, along with the major scientific results from them. To conduct the work for these instruments and the investigations using the data, the division has expanded over three decades into the Science Directorate of Langley Research Center.

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