NASA's Student Airborne Research Program: Learning by Doing

32 college students in the 2013 Student Airborne Research Program were involved in every aspect of a NASA science mission over California.

College Students Study The Earth From NASA's DC-8 Flying Lab

College students in NASA's Student Airborne Research Program (SARP) will measure pollution and air quality, study forest ecology and ocean biology around California.

In Situ Airborne Formaldehyde

The NASA GSFC In Situ Airborne Formaldehyde (ISAF) instrument measures formaldehyde (CH2O) on both pressurized and unpressurized (high-altitude) aircraft. Using laser induced fluorescence (LIF), ISAF possesses the high sensitivity, fast time response, and dynamic range needed to observe CH2O throughout the troposphere and lower stratosphere, where concentrations can range from 10 pptv to hundreds of ppbv.

Formaldehyde is produced via the oxidation of hydrocarbons, notably methane (a ubiquitous greenhouse gas) and isoprene (the primary hydrocarbon emitted by vegetation). Observations of CH2O can thus provide information on many atmospheric processes, including:
 - Convective transport of air from the surface to the upper troposphere
 - Emissions of reactive hydrocarbons from cities, forests, and fires
 - Atmospheric oxidizing capacity, which relates to formation of ozone and destruction of methane
In situ observations of CH2O are also crucial for validating retrievals from satellite instruments, such as OMI, TROPOMI, and TEMPO.

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DC-8 - AFRC, WB-57 - JSC, Gulfstream V - NSF, WP-3D Orion - NOAA, C-130 - NSF
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Student Airborne Research Program (SARP)

The Student Airborne Research Program (SARP) is an eight-week summer program for rising senior undergraduate students to acquire hands-on research experience in all aspects of a scientific campaign using one or more NASA Airborne Science Program flying science laboratories (aircraft used for SARP include the DC-8, P-3B, Sherpa and ER-2).

Whole Air Sampler

The UC-Irvine research group collected whole air samples aboard the NASA DC-8 aircraft during the summer 2019 NASA Fire Influence on Regional to Global Environments Experiment - Air Quality (FIREX-AQ) field mission. More than 70 trace gases were identified and quantified at our Irvine laboratory, including C2-C10 NMHCs, C1-C2 halocarbons, C1-C5 alkyl nitrates, and selected sulfur compounds using our established technique of airborne whole air sampling followed by laboratory analysis using gas chromatography (GC) with flame ionization detection (FID), electron capture detection (ECD), and mass spectrometric detection (MSD). Our experimental procedures build on those that have been successfully employed for numerous prior NASA field missions, for example PEM Tropics A and B, TRACE-P, INTEX-A and B, ARCTAS, DC-3, SEAC4RS, ATom, KORUS-AQ, and SARP.

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