NASA monitors deforestation and coral in Hawaii

Coral Health and Monitoring Program coral at
Wed Jul 16 07:54:50 EDT 1997



Date:    Mon, 14 Jul 1997 17:18:47 EDT
From:    C <THCLAX00 at UKCC.UKY.EDU>
Subject: NASA monitors deforestation and coral in Hawaii

Date: Mon, 14 Jul 1997 15:54:31 -0400 (EDT)
From: NASANews at

Deforestation of Hawaiian Island
Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington,                    July 14, 1997
(Phone: 202/358-1726)

Fred Brown
Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA
(Phone: 805/258-2663)

Eric Dunn
Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kekaha, Kauai, Hawaii

RELEASE:  97-153


    A sleek flying remotely piloted vehicle named Pathfinder
set a new unofficial world record for high-altitude flight by a
solar-powered aircraft at the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range
Facility, Kauai, Hawaii.  The new mark of over 71, 500 feet set
last week exceeds Pathfinder's previous record of 67,350 feet
set in June 1997. Pathfinder is now being prepared to monitor
coral reef degradation and deforestation around the island of Kauai.

    "The altitude achievement, a major milestone for the
program, demonstrates the aircraft's capability to carry
scientific payloads and other experiments into the upper
atmosphere," said Jennifer Baer-Riedhart, Project Manager for
NASA's Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology
program at the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA.

    Remotely piloted aircraft similar to Pathfinder could spend
long periods of time over the ocean monitoring storm
developments to provide more accurate predictions of
hurricanes. These aircraft also could be used to monitor major
croplands, forests and other large, remote expanses to provide
early warning of crop damage or fires. The payloads for
demonstration flights for the program are supplied by NASA's
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA.

     The program is NASA's response to growing scientific
requirements for measurements at higher altitudes and durations
than the current fleet of scientific platforms permits.
Additional technologies considered by the joint NASA-industry
alliance include lightweight materials, avionics, sensor
technology, aerodynamics, and other forms of propulsion
suitable for extreme altitudes.  Pathfinder is one of several
remotely piloted aircraft being evaluated under the program.
The program focuses on developing technologies required to
operate slow-flying unpiloted aircraft at high altitudes. The
most extreme mission envisioned for solar-powered aircraft
would reach altitudes of 100,000 feet for environmental
sampling missions that last a week or longer.

    Pathfinder is a flying wing (with a span of 99 feet), with
two small pods that extend below the wing's center section,
that can carry a variety of scientific sensors. The solar
arrays on the wing can provide as much as 7,200 watts of power
at high noon on a summer day to power the craft's six electric
motors and other electronic systems. A backup battery system
can provide power for up to five hours to fly the craft after
sundown.  Pathfinder was designed, manufactured and is operated
by AeroVironment, Inc., of Simi Valley, CA, under a jointly
sponsored research agreement with NASA.

    Pathfinder's record-breaking flight occurred on July 7,
with a takeoff at 2:34 p.m. EDT. After completion of low-level
system checks, Pathfinder began climbing. Just after 8:45 p.m.
EDT, it passed its previous altitude record. The aircraft
continued to climb to over 71,500 feet before mission controllers
decided to bring the craft back to Earth.  Pathfinder completed
its mission with a perfect landing at 5:05 a.m. EDT.

    The record is the highest altitude ever attained by a
propeller-driven aircraft.  Before Pathfinder, the altitude
record for propeller-driven aircraft was 67,028 feet set by the
experimental Boeing Condor remotely piloted aircraft.


NOTE TO EDITORS:  Still photos to support this release are
available from the Dryden Public Affairs Office. Photos also
are available on the Internet under NASA Dryden Research
Aircraft Photo Archive, Dryden News and Feature Photos, at URL:

NASA Dryden news releases also are available on the Internet at URL:

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