A massive NASA jet has been circling at low altitudes over the San Joaquin Valley in Southern California this week — and no, the space agency isn't spying on you.
The noisy aircraft took off from NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center on Tuesday to spend the day studying the local air quality.
"Residents in the areas below will see and hear the aircraft as it flies to achieve these measurements," the space agency noted in a statement. "Jet aircraft are loud and those with sensitivity to loud noises should be aware of the flyover window."
The Douglas DC-8 aircraft is the "largest flying science laboratory in the world" and is used to "collect data for experiments in support of projects serving the world’s scientific community," per NASA. The plane has helped scientists in a variety of fields, including "archaeology, ecology, geography, hydrology, meteorology, oceanography, volcanology, atmospheric chemistry, cryospheric science, soil science, and biology."
The jet has also helped researchers develop sensors for satellites and improve data retrieval from space vehicles.
NASA has also teamed up with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to study air quality in the Earth's atmosphere.
Last summer, researchers studied human-based air pollution sources using the plane. The project, called Atmospheric Emissions and Reactions Observed from Megacities to Marine Areas (AEROMMA), "brings together airborne, ground, and satellite observing systems, and state-of-the-art air quality and climate models, to investigate emerging research needs in urban air quality."
However, it's unclear if the latest DC-8 flyby is related to that project. Futurism has reached out to NASA for clarification.
So if you hear a massive NASA jet roaring over head, it's underway in the name of science.
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