The NASA Airborne Science Program aircraft list provides unique NASA aircraft and commercial aircraft that benefit the earth science community. These manned and unmanned aircraft carry the sensors that provide data to support and augment NASA spaceborne missions.
Reminder: All investigators with approved or pending proposals from the Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) announcements that have a requirement for a NASA Airborne Science platform/instrument, must submit a Flight Request. The Flight Request is also the method to acquire an estimate if your proposal requires a cost estimate for Airborne Science support. However, for investigators proposing to participate on large, multi- aircraft experiments, such as the ROSES 2011: South East Asia Composition, Cloud and Climate Coupling Regional Studies (SEAC4RS), a single Flight Request will be submitted for each mission by the project scientist or project manager. The Science Operations Flight Request System (SOFRS) can be reached directly at http://airbornescience.nasa.gov/sofrs.
For all "Commercial" aircraft, in addition to filing a Flight Request, investigators are responsible for contacting vendors to determine if the platform meets the requirements of the proposed scientific investigation. It is the responsibility of the investigator to ensure that before any preliminary test flights or actual data collection flights utilizing NASA personnel, instruments or funds occur, all vendors successfully complete a NASA airworthiness/flight safety review in accordance with NASA Aviation Safety Policy for Non-NASA Aircraft.
NASA operates two ER-2 aircraft as readily deployable high altitude sensor platforms to collect remote sensing and in situ data on earth resources, atmospheric chemistry and dynamics, and oceanic processes. The aircraft also are used for electronic sensor research and development, satellite calibration and satellite data validation. Operating at 70,000 feet (21.3 km) the ER-2 acquires data above ninety-five percent of the earth’s atmosphere. The aircraft also yields an effective horizon of 300 miles (480 km) or greater at altitudes of 70,000 feet. Consequently, ER-2 sensors acquiring earth imagery or conducting atmospheric sounding replicate spatial, spectral and atmospheric characteristics of data collected by earth observing sensors aboard orbiting satellites.