Hitching a Ride on NASA's Biggest Flying Laboratory

One of the biggest questions plaguing climate modeling software - and skewing its accuracy - is the role of clouds and the aerosols that shape them.

Science gets problematic outside the lab: clouds move fast, making them hard to model; and depending on their concentration at different altitudes, they can cool or heat the planet.

NASA is working hard to solve this problem. One day last summer, flying at 30,000 feet aboard a custom-equipped flying laboratory that sported dozens of specialized probes, scientists collected enough samples over Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi to keep them busy for years.

How much do government labs help private industry?

Photos: Various, NASA