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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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Probes on the outside of NASA's DC-8 aircraft to collect atmospheric samples. The DC-8 aircraft will be outfitted with 20 instruments for the ATom mission. Credits: NASA

NASA's Airborne Mission to Explore the Global Atmosphere

The Atmospheric Tomography, or ATom, mission is the first to survey the atmosphere over the oceans. Scientists aboard NASA's DC-8 flying laboratory wi...

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The Atmospheric Carbon and Transport–America, or ACT-America, campaign will observe greenhouse gas transport with instruments on two NASA aircraft including the C-130H from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia.

NASA Flights to Track Greenhouse Gases Across Eastern US

Atmospheric Carbon and Transport–America, or ACT-America, is a multi-year airborne campaign that will measure concentrations of carbon dioxide and m...

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Dead and dying ponderosa (Pinus ponderosa) and sugar (P. lambertiana) pine on the Hume Lake Ranger District, Sequoia National Forest, California. Credits: USDA Forest Service

NASA Maps California Drought Effects on Sierra Trees

A new map created with measurements from an airborne instrument developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, reveals the dev...

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Kyle Kabasares (left), physics major at University of California Merced, and Mariah Heck (right), geophysics and geology major at University of Tulsa hold signs to welcome home the DC-8 crew home from the Korean U.S. Air Quality mission. Credits: NSERC Photo / Jane Peterson

Students to Study Air Quality

Starting this week, 32 undergraduate students begin an eight-week NASA airborne science field experience designed to immerse them in the agency's Eart...

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Earth Expeditions: Josh Willis OMG Mission Update

On Friday June 3, 2016, the Oceans Melting Greenland mission had its first successful test of the system for dropping ocean probes from the Gulfstream...

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Upper part of Midgard Glacier system in southeast Greenland. Photo taken during NASA's Operation IceBridge Helheim-Kangerdlugssuap Gap B mission on May 17, 2016. Credits: NASA/Maria-José Viñas

NASA’s Operation IceBridge Completes 2016 Arctic Spring Campaign

Operation IceBridge, NASA’s airborne survey of polar ice, ended its eighth spring Arctic campaign on May 21. During their five weeks of operations, ...

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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.