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Mississippi River Delta, coastal Louisiana. NASA's Delta-X mission seeks to learn how sea-level rise affects the area. Credits: Jaimie Tuchman / Adobe Stock

NASA Prepares for New Science Flights Above Coastal Louisiana

Delta-X, a new NASA airborne investigation, is preparing to embark on its first field campaign in the Mississippi River Delta in coastal Louisiana. Be...

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The image shows a thermokarst lake in Alaska. Thermokarst lakes form in the Arctic when permafrost thaws. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA Flights Detect Millions of Arctic Methane Hotspots

The Arctic is one of the fastest warming places on the planet. As temperatures rise, the perpetually frozen layer of soil, called permafrost, begins t...

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The HU-25 Falcon, pictured here, will fly under and through the clouds, where a suite of instruments will take samples directly from the surrounding air to measure everything from aerosol properties to droplet composition to gas. Instrument probes are visible here protruding from the top of the aircraft. Credits: NASA/David C. Bowman

Probing the Hazy Mysteries of Marine Clouds

A new NASA airborne science mission will take researchers on coordinated flights above, through and below the clouds over the western North Atlantic O...

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NASA’s P-3 and ER-2 research planes are studying East Coast snowstorms Jan 17-Mar 1, 2020. Credit: NASA Credits: NASA

NASA Snow-Chasers Set to Fly Into East Coast Winter Storms

This month NASA is sending a team of scientists, a host of ground instruments, and two research aircraft to study the inner workings of snowstorms. Th...

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In 2020 NASA will deploy five new airborne campaigns across the United States to investigate fundamental Earth processes that affect human lives and the environment, from snowstorms along the East Coast to the sinking coastline of the Mississippi River delta. Credit: NASA Credits: NASA

Media Invited to Preview of New NASA Field Campaigns

NASA is inviting members of the media to a behind-the-scenes tour and briefing on five new research campaigns that will take to the field in 2020 to...

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A photo from the window of NASA's DC-8 shows the rift across the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf running off toward the horizon. The plane flew across the crevasse on Oct. 26, 2011 as part of NASA's Operation IceBridge, and also flew directly over the rift for about 18 miles, taking detailed measurements of its depth, width and shape. The ice shelf hadn't calved a major iceberg since 2001, and IceBridge took advantage of the opportunity afforded by spotting the crack to fly over it and measure its characteris

NASA’s Operation IceBridge Completes Eleven Years of Polar...

For eleven years from 2009 through 2019, the planes of NASA’s Operation IceBridge flew above the Arctic, Antarctic and Alaska, gathering data on t...

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NASA to Study East Coast Snowstorms from VA. Skies

NASA has announced it will use Wallops Island Flight Facility, just south of Chincoteague Island, as a jumping-off point to study Atlantic snowstorms ...

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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.