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The Mendocino Complex Fire is now the largest wildfire in California history with well over 350,000 acres burned. This false-color image was captured on August 9, 2018 by an instrument installed aboard a NASA research aircraft that flew over both fires making up the complex in the area around Clear Lake (the central, black feature) in northern California. Active fire zones are seen in yellow, with warm, burned areas in orange. Unburned vegetation appears in blue and green. The flames of small, active fires

Mapping Record-Setting Wildfire from 65,000 Feet

The Mendocino Complex Fire is now the largest wildfire in California history with well over 350,000 acres burned. This false-color image was captured ...

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An ER-2 based at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California flew a mission over the state’s wildfires Aug. 9 to validate instruments and to collect information to help U.S. Forest Service officials plan for recovery. Credits: NASA Photo / Ken Ulbrich

NASA Assists in Efforts to Contain California Wildfires

An effort by multiple NASA centers to assist with the California wildfires included capturing satellite data of the smoke plumes and aircraft flights ...

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A close encounter with Greenland ice during a 2017 OMG field campaign. Credits: NASA

NASA Gets Up Close with Greenland's Melting Ice

With a new research plane and a new base to improve its chances of outsmarting Atlantic hurricanes, NASA's Oceans Melting Greenland campaign takes to ...

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Christy Hansen

Christy Hansen - A Force of Nature

Christy Hansen plans and manages airborne science missions. She helps scientists, engineers and managers to design aircraft-based Earth science missio...

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Laura Judd, postdoctoral researcher at NASA Langley, prepares for a LISTOS science flight on the center's HU-25 aircraft. GeoTASO, a remote-sensing instrument that observes reflected sunlight to measure atmospheric trace gases and aerosols over a wide area, is visible in the foreground. Credits: NASA/David C. Bowman

NASA Joins Effort to Sniff Out Ozone in the Northeast

A scientific investigation is looking into how ozone forms and how it's being transported around the Long Island Sound. Led by the Northeast States ...

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Students, mentors and faculty of the 2018 NASA Student Airborne Research Program pose in front of the NASA DC-8

Student Airborne Research Program Celebrates Tenth Year

Twenty-eight undergraduate students are participating in an eight-week NASA airborne science program field experience designed to immerse them in the ...

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Nabesna Glacier. Image Credit: Chris Larsen, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Dirty, Crevassed Glaciers in Alaska

Over the years, scientists have captured spectacular photographs while mapping ice during NASA’s Operation IceBridge mission. Many of the photogra...

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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.