NASA and South Korea used research aircraft for an intensive study in and around the Seoul metropolitan area in 2016 to address the country’s poor air quality and lay the groundwork for next-generation pollution-monitoring satellites. Credits: NASA

Early Airborne Results Address South Korean Air Quality

For six weeks in the summer of 2016 scientists from the United States and the Republic of Korea intensively studied air pollution over the Korean peni...

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65,000 feet above Earth, the NASA ER-2 high-altitude pilot calmly waits to adjust course and intercept lightning producing storms. Credit: NASA

Hunting for Lightning: A Day at the GOES-16 Post-Launch Field...

A team of instrument scientists, meteorologists, and specialized pilots have used a high-altitude plane, ground-based sensors, and satellites to colle...

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Students participating in the 2017 NASA Student Airborne Research Program meet the pilots of the NASA Sherpa

Students to Study Earth from Three NASA Flying Laboratories

This summer 32 undergraduate students are participating in an eight-week NASA airborne science field campaign designed to immerse them in the agency's...

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NASA's Kurt Blankenship, Matt Kowaleski, Laura Judd and Taylor Thorson are conducting science flights on NASA Langley's UC-12 aircraft as part of the Lake Michigan Ozone Study. Credits: NASA

NASA Aids Study of Lake Michigan High-Ozone Events

NASA researchers are conducting science flights along the Wisconsin-Illinois Lake Michigan shoreline to help better understand the formation and trans...

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Brown carbon particles produced by wildfires such as the ones that have scorched parts of Georgia and Florida this year are more likely than previously thought to travel to the upper levels of the atmosphere and impact climate. Credits: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC

Smoke from Wildfires Can Have Lasting Climate Impact

New research using data collected during NASA airborne science campaigns shows how smoke from wildfires worldwide could impact the atmosphere and clim...

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NASA's DC-8 airborne laboratory. Credits: NASA/AFRC

NASA's CPEX Tackles a Weather Fundamental

A NASA-funded field campaign underway in Florida has a real shot at improving meteorologists' ability to answer some of the most fundamental questions...

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Nine planes, based mostly in Fairbanks, Alaska, and Yellowknife, Canada, will fly instruments for ABoVE’s 2017 season. Here, ABoVE scientists and crew of the G-III aircraft stand by the plane, which flies a radar instrument to study soils. Credits: NASA/Peter Griffith

NASA’s Arctic Ecosystem Science Flights Begin

A NASA-led effort to advance our ability to monitor changing Arctic and boreal ecosystems has started its second season, with the first aircraft takin...

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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.