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NASA Using Aircraft to Measure Mid-Atlantic Greenhouse Gases

NASA is conducting low-level aircraft flights measuring greenhouse gases over the mid-Atlantic region through September. The flights are for the CARb...

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The Gulfstream III carrying NASA's PRISM instrument being readied for science flights from Cairns, Australia. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/BIOS

NASA Begins Study of Australia's Great Barrier Reef

A NASA airborne mission designed to transform our understanding of Earth's valuable and ecologically sensitive coral reefs has set up shop in Australi...

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Helheim Glacier, with its characteristic wishbone-shaped channels, as seen from about 20,000 feet in the sky. Credits: NASA/Operation IceBridge

Science Flights Study Effect of Summer Melt on Greenland Ice...

Operation IceBridge, NASA’s airborne survey of polar ice, is flying in Greenland for the second time this year, to observe the impact of the summer ...

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Global Hawk arrives at KWAL

NASA Global Hawk alerts NOAA of Gaston’s intensification

NOAA’s National Weather Service National Hurricane Center used real-time weather data from the NASA Global Hawk unmanned aircraft to upgrade a tropi...

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The Namibian coast of southwest Africa (far left) is a unique natural laboratory with both persistent low-level clouds and a steady supply of tiny aerosol particles in the form of smoke from inland fires that mix with the clouds. Credits: NASA

NASA Flies to Africa to Study Climate Effects of Smoke on Clouds

NASA scientists and two research aircraft are on their way to a unique natural laboratory off the Atlantic coast of southwest Africa to study a major ...

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An example of a methane plume observation by NASA’s AVIRIS-NG spectrometer instrument. This plume was confirmed by JPL’s ground team to be caused by a leaking pipeline. The leak was reported to the pipeline operating company, which shut down the pipeline and repaired it. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA Study Analyzes Four Corners Methane Sources

In an extensive airborne survey, a NASA-led team has analyzed a previously identified "hot spot" of methane emissions in the Four Corners region of th...

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A large pool of melt water over sea ice, as seen from an Operation IceBridge flight over the Beaufort Sea on July 14, 2016. During this summer campaign, IceBridge will map the extent, frequency and depth of melt ponds like these to help scientists forecast the Arctic sea ice yearly minimum extent in September. Credits: NASA/Operation IceBridge

NASA Science Flights Target Melting Arctic Sea Ice

This summer, with sea ice across the Arctic Ocean shrinking to below-average levels, a NASA airborne survey of polar ice just completed its first flig...

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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.