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Left: Greenland topography color-coded from 4,900 feet (1,500 meters) below sea level (dark blue) to 4,900 feet above sea level (brown). Right: regions below sea level connected to the ocean, either shallower than 600 feet (200 meters, light pink); between 600 and 1,000 feet (300 meters, dark pink); or continuously deeper than 1,000 feet below sea level (dark red). The thin white line shows the current extent of the ice sheet. Credits: UCI

New Greenland Maps Show More Glaciers at Risk

  New maps of Greenland’s coastal seafloor and bedrock beneath its massive ice sheet show that two to four times as many coastal glaciers are at ri...

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Sea ice forming off the edge of Nobile Glacier on the Antarctic Peninsula during Operation IceBridge’s first flight of the 2017 Antarctic campaign, on Oct, 29, 2017. Credits: NASA/Nathan Kurtz

IceBridge Launches Two Sets of Antarctic Flights

Scientists with NASA’s longest-running airborne mission to map polar ice, Operation IceBridge, completed a successful science flight on Oct. 29, ina...

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A C-130 from Wallops Flight Facility prepares for ACT-America's fall flight campaign. Credits: NASA/Patrick Black

ACT-America Aims to Tell Four-Season Greenhouse Gas Story

NASA scientists are once again on the hunt for greenhouse gases in the sky. Researchers for the Atmospheric Carbon and Transport-America, or ACT-Amer...

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The ATom mission is surveying the world’s atmosphere to better understand how greenhouse gases and pollution are removed from the atmosphere. Credits: NASA

Global Airborne Mission to Make Ozone Hole Detour

Atmospheric researchers depart this month on NASA's DC-8 research aircraft on their third survey of the global atmosphere. Taking place for the first ...

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Terminus of the Zachariæ Isstrøm glacier in northeast Greenland, as seen from 28,000 feet during an Operation IceBridge flight on Aug. 29, 2017 Credits: NASA/LVIS TEAM

NASA Flights Map Summer Melt of Greenland Land Ice

Operation IceBridge is flying in Greenland to measure how much ice has melted over the course of the summer from the ice sheet. The flights, which beg...

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NASA’s C-23 Sherpa collects ozone data as it flies over Langley. Credits: NASA/David C. Bowman

NASA Chesapeake Bay Study To Help Improve Air-Quality Forecasts

The Ozone Water-Land Environmental Transition Study (OWLETS) is a NASA study looking at ozone concentrations around the lower Chesapeake Bay.

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NASA’s C-130 prepares to leave for its first science flight of the fall campaign. Researchers have integrated, tested and calibrated instruments that will help measure the impact the declining annual phase of plankton on the atmosphere. Credits: NASA/Patrick Black

NAAMES Returns to Air and Sea to Study Plankton’s Annual Cycle

NASA’s North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES) returned to air and sea to research the declining, or deaccelerating, phase of t...

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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.