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Bernard Vonnegut and Charles B. Moore

Apparatus is described for measuring and recording the atmospheric potential gradient from an aircraft. It consists of two radioactive probes connected through an electromechanical coupling device to a conventional electrometer and recorder.

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John M. Lewis and Charles B. Moore

During the spring of 1924, U.S. Weather Bureau meteorologist LeRoy Meisinger conducted a series of experiments with a free balloon to determine the trajectories of air around extratropical cyclones. The 10th flight in the series ended with a crash of the balloon overcentral Illinois. Both Meisinger and the pilot, Army Air Services Lt. James Neely, were killed.

An effort has been made to reconstruct this accident using information from a review article by early twentieth-century meteorologist Vincent Jakl and newspaper accounts of the accident. The principal results of the study follow.

  1. Meisinger's balloon was caught in the downdraft of a newly developed thunderstorm over the Bement, Illinois, area on the evening of 2 June;

  2. a hard landing took place in a cornfield just north of Bement, and loss of ballast at the hard-landing site was sufficient to cause the balloon to rise again; and

  3. after rebounding from the ground, the balloon with the two aeronauts aboard was struck by lightning. A fire resulted that burned through the netting and led to a crash four miles northeast of the hard-landing site.

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Chelsea R. Thompson, Steven C. Wofsy, Michael J. Prather, Paul A. Newman, Thomas F. Hanisco, Thomas B. Ryerson, David W. Fahey, Eric C. Apel, Charles A. Brock, William H. Brune, Karl Froyd, Joseph M. Katich, Julie M. Nicely, Jeff Peischl, Eric Ray, Patrick R. Veres, Siyuan Wang, Hannah M. Allen, Elizabeth Asher, Huisheng Bian, Donald Blake, Ilann Bourgeois, John Budney, T. Paul Bui, Amy Butler, Pedro Campuzano-Jost, Cecilia Chang, Mian Chin, RóISíN Commane, Gus Correa, John D. Crounse, Bruce Daube, Jack E. Dibb, Joshua P. Digangi, Glenn S. Diskin, Maximilian Dollner, James W. Elkins, Arlene M. Fiore, Clare M. Flynn, Hao Guo, Samuel R. Hall, Reem A. Hannun, Alan Hills, Eric J. Hintsa, Alma Hodzic, Rebecca S. Hornbrook, L. Greg Huey, Jose L. Jimenez, Ralph F. Keeling, Michelle J. Kim, Agnieszka Kupc, Forrest Lacey, Leslie R. Lait, Jean-Francois Lamarque, Junhua Liu, Kathryn Mckain, Simone Meinardi, David O. Miller, Stephen A. Montzka, Fred L. Moore, Eric J. Morgan, Daniel M. Murphy, Lee T. Murray, Benjamin A. Nault, J. Andrew Neuman, Louis Nguyen, Yenny Gonzalez, Andrew Rollins, Karen Rosenlof, Maryann Sargent, Gregory Schill, Joshua P. Schwarz, Jason M. St. Clair, Stephen D. Steenrod, Britton B. Stephens, Susan E. Strahan, Sarah A. Strode, Colm Sweeney, Alexander B. Thames, Kirk Ullmann, Nicholas Wagner, Rodney Weber, Bernadett Weinzierl, Paul O. Wennberg, Christina J. Williamson, Glenn M. Wolfe, and Linghan Zeng


This article provides an overview of the NASA Atmospheric Tomography (ATom) mission and a summary of selected scientific findings to date. ATom was an airborne measurements and modeling campaign aimed at characterizing the composition and chemistry of the troposphere over the most remote regions of the Pacific, Southern, Atlantic, and Arctic Oceans, and examining the impact of anthropogenic and natural emissions on a global scale. These remote regions dominate global chemical reactivity and are exceptionally important for global air quality and climate. ATom data provide the in situ measurements needed to understand the range of chemical species and their reactions, and to test satellite remote sensing observations and global models over large regions of the remote atmosphere. Lack of data in these regions, particularly over the oceans, has limited our understanding of how atmospheric composition is changing in response to shifting anthropogenic emissions and physical climate change. ATom was designed as a global-scale tomographic sampling mission with extensive geographic and seasonal coverage, tropospheric vertical profiling, and detailed speciation of reactive compounds and pollution tracers. ATom flew the NASA DC-8 research aircraft over four seasons to collect a comprehensive suite of measurements of gases, aerosols, and radical species from the remote troposphere and lower stratosphere on four global circuits from 2016 to 2018. Flights maintained near-continuous vertical profiling of 0.15 – 13 km altitudes on long meridional transects of the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean basins. Analysis and modeling of ATom data have led to the significant early findings highlighted here.

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