Take a look at these photographs of the rare NASA DC-8 Airborne Laboratory visiting Lajes during global-scale sampling mission

A rare beauty flew into Lajes airfield, Azores.

Taking part in the Atmospheric Tomography Mission (ATom-1) to study the impact of human-produced air pollution on greenhouse gases and on chemically reactive gases in the atmosphere, the NASA /Armstrong Flight Research Center / Earth Science DC8-72 msn 46082/458 flew into Lajes air base, Terceira island, Azores, on Aug. 17.

Lajes is a strategic airfield located in the Atlantic Ocean frequently used as a stopover airfield by military (as well as NASA) aircraft crossing the Pond.

ATom deploys an extensive gas and aerosol payload on the NASA DC-8 aircraft for systematic, global-scale sampling of the atmosphere, profiling continuously from 0.2 to 12 km altitude.


According to the NASA website, the DC-8’s sampling activities occur in each of 4 seasons over a 4-year period covering the whole globe: NASA 817 flew to Lajes from Ascension Island and before that the aircraft flew from New Zealand all the way across the Pacific and Indian oceans.


With the Universidade dos Açores (Azores University Meteo department) as a prominent research partner, the classic aircraft was involved in several scientific local flights to better understand atlantic meteorological conditions as well as air particle analysis, before leaving bound for Greenland on Aug. 20.

Below you can see the last part of the route followed by NASA 817 (screenshot from Flightradar24.)


Here are some images sent us by our friends at the APS (Associação Portugal Spotters) showing the DC-8 arriving at Lajes in the afternoon on Aug. 17.

Image credit: APS – Associação Portugal Spotters


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.