Dwayne Brown Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/358-1726) Michael Finneran Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA (Phone

: 757/864-6124)

June 3, 1997

David Morse Ames Research Center, Mountain View, CA (Phone: 415/604-4724) RELEASE: 97-118 NASA STUDIES HIGH ALTITUDE RADIATION WITH UPGRADED ER-2 Using an upgraded NASA ERR2 aircraft, researchers at NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, have begun a month-long campaign to measure radiation at high altitudes. This campaign, funded by NASA's High-Speed Research program, is the first of several that will measure naturally occurring radiation from cosmic and solar rays at altitudes between 52,000 and 70,000 feet. The data will be used to characterize the radiation environment for the aircrew and frequent-flying public on a future High-Speed Civil Transport. The High-Speed Civil Transport, a conceptual supersonic airliner, would carry 300 passengers at 2.4 times the speed of sound, at altitudes of up to 68,000 feet. "The broad aim of the Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation ER-2 flight-measurements campaign is to understand the composition, distribution and intensities of cosmic and solar radiation at commercial supersonic transport-cruise altitudes," said Allen Whitehead, the High-Speed Research environmental impact manager. "Our primary concern is the level of uncertainties in the knowledge of the upper atmosphere's radiation environment and the human body's response to that type of environment," said Dr. John Wilson, the Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation chief scientist. "Radiation measurements will be obtained by an array of instruments from the United States, Canada, Germany, United

Kingdom and Italy in a collaborative effort devised by Dr. Wilson," said Donald Maiden, the Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation project manager. "The instrument types which make up the array were recommended by the National Council on Radiation Protection in a study sponsored by the High-Speed research program." "The primary thrust is to characterize the atmospheric radiation and to define dose levels at high altitude flight. A secondary thrust is to develop and validate dosimetric techniques and monitoring devices for protection of the aircrew who work many hours at cruise altitudes," Maiden added. According to Maiden, "Even though the exposure levels are higher at the higher cruise altitude, the typical flying public will actually receive less radiation exposure than on today's subsonic transports because of the higher speed of the High-Speed Civil Transport. This is another advantage for speed." The flight program is a collaborative effort with the Department of Energy's Environmental Measurements Laboratory; NASA's Johnson Space Center; the Canadian Defense Research Establishment and Royal Military College; the German Aerospace Research Establishment; the United Kingdom's National Radiation Protection Board; the Boeing Company; and several domestic and foreign university guest investigators. Recent modifications to the NASA ER-2, sponsored by NASA's Mission to Planet Earth program, increased its altitude capabilities, allowing it to reach easily those altitudes where the High-Speed Civil Transport will fly. The NASA ER-2 is based at NASA's Ames Research Center, Mountain View, CA. -end-