News

2019 NASA Student Airborne Research Program (SARP) students, mentors and faculty pose in front of the NASA DC-8 airborne laboratory. Credits: Megan Schill / NASA SARP

Student Airborne Research Program Takes Flight over California

Twenty-eight undergraduate students are participating in an eight-week NASA airborne science field experience this summer that will immerse them in th...

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NASA’s ER-2 aircraft, based at Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, California, flies above the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, California, on Dec. 7, 2017. The aircraft was equipped with instrumentation to observe and measure everything from smoke aerosols to the combustion process as fuel burns and fire temperatures. The ER-2 will also make those observations and more during this year’s Fire Influence on Regional to Global Environments and Air Quality (FIREX-AQ) campaign. Credits: NASA/Tim William

Through Smoke and Fire, NASA Searches for Answers

This summer, NASA is embarking on several field campaigns across the world to investigate longstanding questions surrounding fire and smoke. Aircraft ...

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The Greenland Ice Sheet is the second-largest body of ice in the world, covering roughly 650,000 square miles of Greenland's surface. If it melts completely, it could contribute up to 23 feet of sea level rise, according to a new study using data from NASA's Operation IceBridge.

Study Predicts More Long-Term Sea Level Rise from Greenland Ice

Greenland’s melting ice sheet could generate more sea level rise than previously thought if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase and warm t...

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Looking For Freshwater In All the Snowy Places

Snowflakes that cover mountains or linger under tree canopies are a vital freshwater resource for over a billion people around the world. To help dete...

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NASA Explores Our Changing Freshwater World

Researchers funded by NASA have used satellite and airborne data to better inform existing tools for flooding, drought forecasts and famine relief eff...

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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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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.