Researchers Chase the Total Solar Eclipse Using NASA Jets

The upcoming solar eclipse presents a unique opportunity for NASA to conduct several scientific experiments funded by the agency. Among these experiments are three that will utilize the WB-57 aircraft to make measurements during the eclipse. These specialized jets fly at much higher altitudes than commercial aircraft, allowing them to soar above the clouds and avoid missing the eclipse due to bad weather conditions. Flying above most of Earth’s atmosphere also enables the cameras on board to capture clear images and wavelengths, such as infrared light, that are typically filtered out before reaching the ground.

One key advantage of using the WB-57 aircraft is their ability to travel at speeds of up to 460 miles per hour. This high speed allows the planes to extend the duration of time spent in the Moon’s shadow during the eclipse. While the eclipse will last no more than four and a half minutes at any given location on the ground, the aircraft will experience a longer eclipse lasting over 6 minutes and 22 seconds. This extended viewing time provides researchers with the opportunity to gather more data and insights during this rare astronomical event.

By Samantha Robertson

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