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). 

The NASA Airborne Science Program mantains a fleet of aircraft used for studying Earth system processes, calibration/validation of space-borne observations, and prototyping instruments for possible satellite missions. SARP participants will assist in the operation of instruments onboard an aircraft to sample atmospheric chemicals, and/or to image land and water surfaces in multiple spectral bands.

Research areas include atmospheric chemistry, air quality, forest ecology, and ocean biology. Along with airborne data collection, students will participate in taking measurements at field sites. The program culminates with formal presentations of research results and conclusions. 

To learn more about SARP, view previous research and apply, please click here


Applicants must have a strong academic background in any of the physical, chemical, or biological sciences, mathematics or engineering and an interest in applying their background to the study of the Earth system. We especially encourage applications from students majoring in Earth, environmental or atmosphericsciences and related disciplines.
Eligibility requirements include full-time student status at an accredited four-year U.S. college or university. Students from underrepresented groups and from academic institutions with limited research opportunities are strongly encouraged to apply.


Applications for the Student Airborne Research Program are opened each fall. Specific application requirements can be found in the annual program detail pages. Once applications are closed, the review process and resulting student selection process are based on the following selection criteria:

  • Excellent Academic Performance (GPA at least 3.0/4.0).

  • Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) major
  • Evidence of interest in Earth system science and hands-on research
  • Leadership qualities and ability to perform in teams
Approximately thirty students are chosen from the applicant pool each summer to participate in the program. Participants will be awarded a stipend ($5000) as well as funding to cover their travel to California. Housing and transportation will also be provided during the eight-week program.


Outstanding faculty, mentors and staff are drawn from several universities and NASA centers, as well as from NASA flight operations and engineering. Program faculty will present detailed information on their research. Faculty and mentors will then guide participants through instrument and flight preparations, data analysis, and interpretation.

SARP Facebook

SARP Twitter


Visit our old webpages from SARP 2009-2016.  We are in the process of migrating these webpages over to this site.

Esther Thomas, University of New Orleans, (SARP 2011) operates the Whole Air Sampler onboard the NASA DC-8