Scientists in the News

Post-Hurricane Harvey, NASA tried to fly a pollution-spotting plane over Houston. The EPA said no

A NASA-operated DC-8 stationed in Palmdale is used to collect and analyze atmospheric samples from around the world. The plane was not used to analyze pollution data in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Times

In the weeks after Hurricane Harvey’s catastrophic sweep through the Houston area — which resulted in chemical spills, fires, flooded storage tanks and damaged industrial plants — rescue crews and residents complained of burning throats, nausea and dizziness. Fifteen hundred miles west in the high desert city of Palmdale, NASA scientists were preparing to fly a DC-8, equipped with the world’s most sophisticated air samplers over the hurricane zone to monitor pollution levels. The mission never got off the ground. Both the state of Texas and the EPA told the scientists to stay away.