Ex-Spy Plane Will Monitor the Ozone Layer in the Next Few Years

NASA researchers will keep a close eye on the ozone depletion situation.
Fabienne Lang

Every year, central Unites States has some pretty massive and looming black clouded storms called "overshoots." These storms disrupt daily life for millions of people, but, according to scientists, they may disrupt something even more important: our ozone layer.

NASA has funded a research project to see if this is, in fact, true. 

Essentially, the ozone layer protects us on Earth from harmful radiation, which can ultimately lead to skin cancer and other health issues. Everyday chemicals, such as hairspray, if used too regularly, can harm the ozone layer.

A few decades ago, this prompted governments around the world to sign the Montreal Protocol. This is an agreement that curbs the use of certain substances that harm our ozone layer. 

Now, scientists fear that there are new threats to the ozone layer - overshoots and also climate change, which makes overshoots more common.

To get a closer look, NASA will be sending a research jet, called the ER-2, high into the stratosphere in the next few years. Have a look at this video to see the exact jet that will be used.

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The ER-2 is a modified version of the military's U-2 spy plane that can fly up to 20,000 meters. The jet will be sent directly after these storms occur, to measure the air, temperatures, and chemical balance. This will allow scientists to try and see what has been shot up after the storms. 

There's no direct sign that the ozone layer above the U.S. is depleting at this time, but by keeping a close eye on the area, scientists will be able to gauge exactly what's happening with these storms. 

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