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News

ASP Research Network as tracked by the Mission Tools Suite

This figure depicts nearly eight years of science flights across the globe by the NASA Airborne Science Program (ASP) aircraft serving the needs of th...

A team of NASA researchers traveled to Australia to work with partners supporting a mission to return an asteroid sample to Earth.

Capturing an Asteroid Sample Return from Down Under

A team of NASA researchers traveled to Australia to work with partners supporting a mission to return an asteroid sample to Earth. The Scientifically...

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The crew after their successful season. In the photo from left to right: Josh Willis, OMG lead scientist; Mike Wood, OMG scientist; Linden Hoover, Kenn Borek co-pilot; Jim Haffey, Kenn Borek pilot; and Ian Fenty, OMG scientist. Not pictured are Gerald Cirtwell, Kenn Borek flight engineer, and Ian McCubbin, OMG project manager. Credit: Josh Willis/JPL

Pandemic Delays, But Doesn’t Slow, Ice Melt Research in Greenland

Despite racing against impending harsh weather conditions, a red and white World War II aircraft flew slowly and steadily over the icy waters surround...

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Masks are part of the safety protocol for ACTIVATE scientists. Here, Yonghoon Choi prepares for a science flight on the HU-25 Falcon. Credits: NASA/David C. Bowman

ACTIVATE Makes a Careful Return to Flight

NASA's Aerosol Cloud Meteorology Interactions Over the Western Atlantic Experiment (ACTIVATE) eased into its second set of 2020 science flights out ...

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NASA's C-20A research aircraft takes off with the UAVSAR instrument attached below during an earlier flight from Edwards Air Force Base near Palmdale, California. Credits: NASA

NASA Takes Flight to Study California's Wildfire Burn Areas

While the agency's satellites image the wildfires from space, scientists are flying over burn areas, using smoke-penetrating technology to better unde...

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Captured by the ASTER instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite, this false-color map shows the burn area of the River and Carmel fires in Monterey County, California. Vegetation (including crops) is shown in red; the burn area (dark blue/gray) is in the center of the image. Credits: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems

From Space and in the Air, NASA Tracks California's...

Earth-observing instruments on satellites and aircraft are mapping the current fires, providing data products to agencies on the ground that are respo...

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The Swift HALE uncrewed aircraft takes off from Spaceport America in New Mexico on July 7, 2020, for its first flight test. Credits: Swift Engineering

NASA Small Business Partnership Prepares Drone for 30-Day...

With the help of NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, Swift Engineering of San Clemente, California, completed a two-hour f...

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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.