S-MODE begins test flights

After a 13-month delay to the start of science operations due to COVID-19, the Submesoscale Ocean Dynamics and Vertical Transport Experiment (S-MODE) ...

DCOTSS began integration

Earth Venture Suborbital 3 project Dynamics and Chemistry of the Summer Stratosphere Science (DCOTSS) began integration of instruments onto the ER-2 a...

Researchers with NASA’s Delta-X mission conduct preliminary field work in coastal Louisiana’s delta region. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

After COVID-19 Delay, Delta-X Field Campaign Begins in Louisiana

Teams are headed out by land, water, and air to collect data that will be used to forecast land gain and loss in the Mississippi River Delta as a resu...

Read More:
Researcher Luke Ziemba checks an instrument on the Falcon prior to a flight. Credits: NASA/David C. Bowman

ACTIVATE Begins Year Two of Marine Cloud Study

A NASA airborne study has returned to the field for a second year of science flights to advance the accuracy of short- and long-term climate models. ...

Read More:
DC-8 lifts off from Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif., at sunset. Credits: NASA / Carla Thomas

NASA’s DC-8 Returns to Flight

NASA’s DC-8 aircraft returned to the skies after more than a year of maintenance, which included an overhaul to all four engines. NASA operates the...

Read More:

ASP Research Network as tracked by the Mission Tools Suite

This figure depicts nearly eight years of science flights across the globe by the NASA Airborne Science Program (ASP) aircraft serving the needs of th...

A team of NASA researchers traveled to Australia to work with partners supporting a mission to return an asteroid sample to Earth.

Capturing an Asteroid Sample Return from Down Under

A team of NASA researchers traveled to Australia to work with partners supporting a mission to return an asteroid sample to Earth. The Scientifically...

Read More

About the Airborne Science Program


The Airborne Science Program within the Earth Science Division is responsible for providing aircraft systems that further science and advance the use of satellite data. The primary objectives of this program are to:

  • Satellite Calibration and Validation
    Provide platforms to enable essential calibration measurements for the Earth observing satellites, and the validation of data retrieval algorithms.
  • Support New Sensor Development
    Provide sub-orbital flight opportunities to test and refine new instrument technologies/algorithms, and reduce risk prior to committing sensors for launch into space.
  • Process Studies
    Obtain high-resolution temporal and spatial measurements of complex local processes, which can be coupled to global satellite observations for a better understanding of the complete Earth system.
  • Develop the Next-Generation of Scientists and Engineers
    Foster the development of our future workforce with the hands-on involvement of graduate students, and young scientists/engineers in all aspects of ongoing Earth science investigations.

To meet these observing objectives ASP maintains and operates a suite of sustained, ongoing platforms and sensors on which investigators can rely from year to year. From these known capabilities the Science Mission Directorate can develop observing strategies. However, an ongoing capability will be resource-constrained and eventually technology-constrained, so that not all observing requirements will be met with the limited core capability. Therefore the program facilitates access to other platforms or sensors on a funds-available, as-needed basis, to accommodate unique and/or occasional requirements. The Program also looks for new or evolving technologies to demonstrate their applicability for Earth science. Depending on the success of the demonstrations and the observing needs, the core capability is expected to evolve and change over time. The speed and extent of change will be balanced against the need for established, known capabilities for long-term planning.