Testing Valley air quality is one of NASA's latest projects

FRESNO, Calif.

The Visalia airport serves private planes, commercial service to LAX and Las Vegas, local helicopter companies and more, but for the next several weeks it will be a crucial location to helping a NASA project.

NASA is conducting a study called "Discovery AQ" -- AQ for air quality. They are using the Visalia, Porterville and other Valley airports to help them coordinate their tests from a four-engine turbo prop-plane and other ground based equipment to study air pollution.

Visalia Airport Manager Mario Cifuentes said "In conjunction with satellite data they're collecting they're hoping to make a determination as to the reliability of some of the satellite data they're getting regards to some of the air quality in the Valley."

In this NASA video taken from their website NASA Scientist Jim Crawford talks about the $30 million project, which will be conducted at several different locations in the US.

Since federal aviation requirements don't allow NASA's planes to fly lower than 1,000 feet in populated areas, NASA's planes won't ever land at the airports to do their testing.

"They don't touch down they actually just make low passes with equipment on the airplane in conjunction with equipment on the ground that they can determine how that information is measuring up to what their satellite images are taking," Cifuentes said.

The City Of Visalia is excited by NASA coming to town, calling it a good opportunity to show the airport's versatile use.

"We thought it was great they came in and brought a trailer and provided their own power source and that sort of thing, so it's good for us to be able to work with the government and also to have the NASA aircraft flying around," Cifuentes said.

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