News

A modified U-2 spy plane will help researchers assess threats to the ozone layer over the United States. NASA PHOTO/CARLA THOMAS

Modified spy plane to see whether towering storms pose new...

NASA's ER-2 is again preparing to soar to the overworld in search of a potential new threat to the ozone layer.

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The High Altitude Lidar Observatory (HALO) system electronics and diagnostic tools are integrated onto the DC-8 airborne science laboratory at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. The lidar system control electronics are on the right hand side of the rack. The large monitors on the left are used to display real-time images of water vapor and aerosol profiles, which are used by the science team to guide in-flight decisions and navigation. The compact HALO instrument head can be seen

Illuminating Gases in The Sky: NASA Technology Pinpoints Potent...

Research scientists at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, have created a new airborne instrument that can directly measure water v...

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Reseachers Anna Noe and Eric Altman check out the Doppler Aerosol Wind Lidar (DAWN), an airborne instrument that uses pulsed lasers to detect the movement of atmospheric aerosols such as dust or sea salt. In detecting those movements, it can profile wind vector — both speed and direction. Researchers are testing DAWNs capabilities during flights over the eastern Pacific. Credits: NASA/Lauren Hughes

NASA Testing Airborne Lasers to Touch the Wind

A group of NASA researchers could soon be blown away by data they collect during an airborne science campaign that will span from the Pacific coast to...

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Frazil ice (slushy sea ice), leads (openings in the ice pack) and sea smoke in a fjord in Devon Island, Canada, spotted during an Operation IceBridge survey flight on Apr. 3, 2019. Credits: NASA / Eugenia De Marco

NASA Begins Final Year of Airborne Polar Ice Mission

This is the last year for Operation IceBridge, NASA’s most comprehensive airborne survey of ice change. Since the launch of its first Arctic campaig...

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A Decade of Exploring Alaska’s Mountain Glaciers

In Alaska, 5 percent of the land is covered by glaciers that are losing a lot of ice and contributing to sea level rise. To monitor these changes, a s...

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The calving front of Jakobshavn Glacier, center. Credits: NASA/OIB/John Sonntag

Cold Water Currently Slowing Fastest Greenland Glacier

NASA research shows that Jakobshavn Glacier, which has been Greenland's fastest-flowing and fastest-thinning glacier for the last 20 years, has made a...

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Optical Engineer Aboubakar Traore looks over the Doppler Aerosol Wind Lidar (DAWN) before it travels from Hampton, Virginia, to Palmdale, California. Credits: NASA/David C. Bowman

Going Where the Wind Takes It

Developed at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, DAWN uses laser pulses to take highly accurate measurements of vector wind speed and...

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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.