Birmingham students are going to the edge of space in a special
collaboration with NASA.
The University of Birmingham and NASA are involved in a climate change research programme which will see a robotic aircraft sent 65,000 feet up into the earth's atmosphere.
The programme, which will measure changes in the ozone layer, is the first collaboration of its kind between UK and US scientists.
The Coordinated Airborne Studies in the Tropics (CAST) programme will use an aircraft called the NASA Global Hawk, which was originally developed for military missions.
The Global Hawk will explore the tropical tropopause layer, which is the region where the earth's air enters the stratosphere.
This region is where pollutants and greenhouse gases are transported into and out of the atmosphere, and can affect our climate.
The Global Hawk will be programmed to fly into the most climate- sensitive and difficult to reach regions close to the equator, at an altitude of around 65,600 feet above the earth.
This is around twice the height of a commercial passenger jet.
Rob MacKenzie, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Birmingham, said: 'The earth's water cycle is familiar to every schoolchild, but it still contains many puzzles.
"The CAST project will provide a unique insight into how water enters the ozone layer and so will help us predict how that protective layer will behave in a warmer-andwetter future."
Details of the new projects were unveiled late last month at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center in Southern California.
The Birmingham team will provide a model to simulate the behaviour of very high, very cold, almost invisible clouds which are important in moderating the amount of water in the ozone layer.
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