NASA flight crew, SARP students and mentors pose in front of the DC-8 on June 21, 2022.

NASA Flies Students on DC-8 to Study Air Quality

A group of university students and mentors flew aboard NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s DC-8 aircraft to study air quality as part of NASA’...

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The P-3 aircraft is fueled on NASA's Wallops Flight Facility main base runway in Virginia.

NASA Aircraft Conducting Atmospheric Studies Over DC to Baltimore

A NASA aircraft will fly over the I-95 corridor from Washington to Baltimore and Hampton, Virginia, in support of an atmospheric campaign in the mid-A...

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Students from Victor Scott Primary in Bermuda sit at the hangar door and look across the runway at one of the ACTIVATE aircraft.

NASA Airborne Science Mission Engages with Students in Bermuda

A NASA airborne science mission conducting research flights over the Atlantic Ocean held an outreach event June 9 during a three-week deployment to Be...

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NASA's ER-2 No. 806 returns to flying high-altitude on April 7, 2022, after three years of heavy maintenance. NASA Armstrong operates two ER-2 aircraft to collect information about Earth resources, celestial observations, atmospheric chemistry and dynamics, and oceanic processes.

NASA’s ER-2 No. 806 Returns to Flight

NASA’s ER-2 high-altitude aircraft No. 806 returned to flight after three years of significant modifications and heavy maintenance.

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Shown is the air-LUSI telescope positioned to measure a simulated Moon in a laboratory for testing and calibration before and after the flight campaign.

NASA Uses Moonlight to Improve Satellite Accuracy

NASA’s airborne Lunar Spectral Irradiance, or air-LUSI, flew aboard NASA’s ER-2 aircraft from March 12 to 16 to accurately measure the amount of l...

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SARP 2020/2021 students in front of the NASA DC-8 aircraft

Student Airborne Researchers Fly on NASA’s DC-8

In December 2021, 53 students from various universities across the United States majoring in sciences, mathematics, and engineering were selected to f...

A group of Stony Brook students getting the weather balloons ready for a past storm on January 28, 2022. The instruments are tied to strings attached to the balloons, including a parachute and GPS system that provides the location of the balloon. Around 8 kilometers (5 miles), the communication drops off and contact is lost with the system. Photo Courtesy of Brian Colle.

Planning, Coordinating and Communicating: The Science Behind...

As the snowstorm headed through New York on February 24, one professor at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York spent the hours leading up 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.