News

NASA operates two Airborne Science ER-2 aircraft for a wide variety of environmental science, atmospheric sampling, and satellite data verification missions. (Carla Thomas/NASA).

How a Cold War spy plane went from watching the Soviets to...

Located just north of Atlanta, Georgia, Dobbins Air Reserve Base is usually home to C-130 transport planes. But for the next few weeks, the base will ...

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A team of pilots, operations engineers, instrument scientists and maintenance crews deployed to Kona, Hawaii in December in support of NASA’s C-20A rapid response mission to map lava flows of the Mauna Loa volcanic eruption.

NASA’s C-20A deploys to Hawaii Following Volcanic Eruption

Following the eruption of the world’s largest active volcano, Mauna Loa, NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center deployed its C-20A aircraft to Kona, ...

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A photo of Joseph. Credit: Courtesy of Joseph D’Addezio

Cloudy with a Chance for Whirlpools: Ocean Models Guide NASA’s S...

NASA’s S-MODE mission faces quite the challenge: robustly observe, for the first time, ocean features spanning up to about 6.2 miles (10 kilometers)...

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Dolphins surfacing at a submesoscale front on a calm, foggy day – photo taken off of the stern of the Bold Horizon. Credit: Gwen Marechal

Where No Map Leads: Reflections from NASA’s S-MODE Mission

It’s like stumbling through a thick forest and breaking out into a glade. A quiet has settled on this piece of sea as the waves calm. You can’t ma...

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A black-footed albatross shows off its sleek wings over the wake of our ship. Credit: Alex Kinsella.

Finding Nature at Sea During NASA’s S-MODE Field Campaign

My favorite part of being at sea is the opportunity to see unique parts of the natural world that aren’t accessible from land. My colleagues have do...

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Mackenzie (left) and Avery Snyder (right) getting ready to deploy a mixed layer float. Credit: Alex Kinsella

A First Cruise Experience with NASA’s S-MODE Field Campaign

I had been patiently waiting and dreaming about this research cruise for months. Yet a few days before traveling from Connecticut to Oregon for ship m...

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First sunset off the Bold Horizon after many cloudy days!

Life at Sea: A “First-Timer” Chronicles NASA’s S-MODE Field...

Going to sea for the first time as part of NASA’s S-MODE mission has been an experience like no other. You establish a new normal on the boat and qu...

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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.