Big Trail Lake is one of Alaska’s newest lakes and one of the largest methane emission hotspots in the Arctic. Credit: NASA / Katie Jepson

Alaska’s Newest Lakes Are Belching Methane

“This lake wasn’t here 50 years ago.” Katey Walter Anthony, an ecologist at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, dips her paddle into the water a...

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IMPACTS Data User Workshop - 26-27 October 2022

We are currently planning our third IMPACTS Data User Workshop that will be held virtually on 26-27 October 2022 from 12:00-2:30 ET. These open data...

IMPACTS Data User Workshop - 26-27 October 2022
Scientists and pilots with NASA’s ABoVE campaign got to tour the U.S. Army CRREL’s permafrost tunnel during their August 2022 field campaign in Fairbanks, Alaska. Credit: Sofie Bates / NASA

Walking Back in Time to Learn About the Future of Permafrost

There’s a freezer door in the mountainside outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. Tom Douglas opens it and we step inside, breathing in cold air and musky du...

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Measuring Methane in the Everglades

The field campaign—called Blue Carbon Prototype Products for Mangrove Methane and Carbon Dioxide Fluxes (BLUEFLUX)—is designed to measure the meth...

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SARP students carry an ozone sonde balloon to launch at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, California.

SARP Ozone Sondes Coincide with SAGE III/ISS Measurements

A NASA student research program recently took to the stratosphere to make ozone measurements that coincided with events from the Stratospheric Aerosol...

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Student researchers participating in the first year of NASA’s Student Airborne Science Activation (SaSa) program pose in front of the agency’s P-3 aircraft, July 9, 2022, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia. Participants flew aboard the P-3 to collect Earth science data for their research. SaSa aims to increase diversity in the geosciences by providing students from minority-serving institutions with research experience and professional support. Pictured here are SaSa participants

Toward Greater Diversity in Earth Sciences: NASA’s Student...

Understanding Earth and the complex influences on our planet’s climate are some of the biggest challenges of our times, and we need all the help we ...

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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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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.