PORTLAND, Maine — The Virginia-based Tempus Jets will use its facilities in Brunswick to outfit a Gulfstream IV business jet with a special imaging sensor as part of a NASA field expedition to study the world’s coral reef systems.
The company announced the deal Tuesday, saying that its modifications of the jet started this month and are expected to be complete in May. The company will design, engineer and modify the jet with a portable remote imaging spectrometer.
Tempus said engineering teams at its headquarters in Virginia will work on the design for the modification, which will take place at its 84,000-square-foot facility in Brunswick.
The contract is with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Tempus said that after the modifications are complete, it also has a deal to fly the aircraft for hundreds of hours annually, starting in June.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in January that its study would advance the state of research into coral reefs, which has been limited to diving expeditions.
“Right now, the state of the art for collecting coral reef data is scuba diving with a tape measure,” Eric Hochberg, the principal investigator and scientist at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, St. George’s, said in a statement. “It’s analogous to looking at a few trees and then trying to say what the forest is doing.”
Jet Propulsion Laboratory said that it will fund the coral reef study through a program that selects airborne and field investigations that complement its satellite missions.