Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Cloud Identification During Near Space Flights

Click cloud chart for a larger view

Do you think identifying clouds during manned Near Space flights will be a little different from Earth-based identifications? From the previous Near Space flights in July of 2013, seventy four cloud images are selected.

Use the handy miles to kilometers at-a-glace chart for simple and quick conversions.

Let's take a look at the chart of different cloud styles seen from Earth (shown above) and a sample of 74 clouds seen from the Near Space spacecraft (shown below).

The trip into Near Space resulted in images of every cloud type, including rain, fog, and contrails. These images show only a small selection of the many clouds recording during flight.
Do clouds, as seen on Earth from the horizon vantage point, look a lot different from clouds top down or obliquely viewed during a Near Space mission? Let's run this experiment to find out. The data is based on two NS space flights on Wednesday, July 17th, 2013, with the data for two sets of ascend and descend.

The unique aspect about a Near Space flight is looking at clouds from the top down position. Clouds can also be viewed down obliquely. During lift off and reentry, the craft passes near and through the clouds for more studies of clouds.

The rows of these images are numbered from left to right.
Our Near Space flight program extends from zero to 7 miles, which is zero to just over 11 kilometers. The chart shows cloud types that exist up to nine kilometers. Thus, the Near Space flight has the potential to observe all cloud types from the top down.

Data shows that more than nine out of ten times, the craft is above all clouds at the apex of flight. We will select a cross section of photos taken during ascent and descent, where the craft can look down on clouds or out across the cloud population from the "above vantage position." Selections were made with the TST Tiny Space Telescope pointing down or obliquely.