Richard Branson, he of the various Virgin Enterprises, has attached its name to a staggering array of ventures. Not the least of those is Virgin Galactic, which is currently hard at work sending space-age aircraft into heretofore uncharted territory. Space Ship Two and White Knight Two are the two latest machines going airborne for the firm, and these two craft will soon be carrying instruments for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The NOAA already does plenty of instrumented testing, but the only methods it currently has of flying over 25,000 feet are with weather balloons, which help but aren't capable of gathering as much data as the agency would like. Specifically, the agency will be testing carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that may be directly responsible for global climate change. Branson seems happy to help, saying, "To my mind there is no greater or more immediate challenge than that posed by climate change." It's clear that our transportation options will change a great deal due to carbon-limiting legislation, and these experiments may impact future laws imposed on automakers.

[Source: Wired]

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