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Aerial lab being used to measure California snowpack




Tom Painter, left, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Frank Gehrke, state snow survey chief, are shown in the flying laboratory. Starting in early April, researchers have made weekly flights over the upper Tuolumne River basin, taking sophisticated instrument readings of the snow depth and reflected sunlight.
Tom Painter, left, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Frank Gehrke, state snow survey chief, are shown in the flying laboratory. Starting in early April, researchers have made weekly flights over the upper Tuolumne River basin, taking sophisticated instrument readings of the snow depth and reflected sunlight.
California Department of Water Resources

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The snowpack measurement is about to get more precise. NASA is pioneering a new technique to monitor snowpacks, from 17,000 feet above the ground.

Using planes equipped with sophisticated sensors, scientists can accurately map out the volume of snow and predict how quickly it will melt. Here to tell us more is Tom Painter, who's heading up the mission for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.