NASA Ames’ Contributions to OSIRIS-REx

NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, will manage an experiment taking advantage of the OSIRIS-REx sample arrival to study characteri...

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NASA SARP intern Karla Lemus, on left, assists NASA Scientist Emeritus Anne Thompson as she leads NASA SARP East interns, to release an ozone sonde from the parking lot of the VCU Rice Rivers Center on June 16, 2023. Credits: NASA/Angelique Herring

Surf, Turf, Above Earth: Students Participate in NASA Field...

Flying over and tromping through watery landscapes along the East Coast, working alongside NASA scientists, and recording measurements about the air t...

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DC-8 airplane during SARP 2023.

NASA Student Airborne Research Program 2023: Sky-High Science...

NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center hosted undergraduate students for the 2023 Student Airborne Research Program.  An eight-week summer interns...

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The joint team that worked on the Airborne Lightning Observatory for Fly’s Eye GLM Simulator (FEGS) and Terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (ALOFT) field campaign takes a break in front of NASA Armstrong’s ER-2 aircraft following its safe return from a mission on July 24. The ALOFT field campaign spent 30 days studying gamma-ray glows and flashes produced from the electric fields of thunderclouds. Credits: NASA

Global Collaboration Leads to New Discoveries in Lightning...

With operations based out of Tampa, Florida, the ALOFT field campaign logged approximately 60 hours of flight time across Central America and the Cari...

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NASA Armstrong’s ER-2 aircraft flies high to study lightning. Credit: NASA

NASA’s ER-2 Aircraft Flies High to Investigate Lightning

In July 2023, NASA’s ER-2 aircraft has been flying close to thunderclouds to investigate lightning and its connection to the vast energy fields in o...

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NASA pilot Wayne Ringelberg, right, prepares to be dunked by Federal Aviation Administration Aviation Physiology and post-crash survival instructor Roger Storey, left, for helicopter egress training on April 12, 2023, at the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute in Oklahoma. Credits: FAA Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center/Laura Shepherd-Madsen

NASA Pilots Get Dunked

What’s it like to escape from an aircraft underwater? NASA research pilots Wayne Ringelberg, and Scott Howe recently found out when they completed p...

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Scenes from CTD water collection party. Courtesy of Jessica Caggiano and Jacob Wenegrat.

Elation Through Filtration: An Oceanographer’s Sensations at Sea

Being a biological oceanographer on a physical oceanographic voyage has highlighted a key distinction between the two disciplines. Physical oceanograp...

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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.