Airborne Missions

  • C-20A in flight


    The Unmanned Air Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) is a project jointly developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in which a synthetic aperture radar is being flight-validated on a Gulfstream C-20A (GIII) in a specially designed pod that will be interoperable with manned and unmanned aircraft. The modified C-20A provides a platform to not only test and evaluate the new radar, but can also be used to gather scientific data for multiple geophysical studies.


    Aerosol Cloud Meteorology Interactions Over the Western Atlantic Experiment (ACTIVATE)

    NASA’s Aerosol Cloud meTeorology Interactions oVer the western ATlantic Experiment (ACTIVATE) project is a five-year project (January 2019 – December 2023) that will provide important globally-relevant data about changes in marine boundary layer cloud systems, atmospheric aerosols and multiple feedbacks that warm or cool the climate. Marine boundary layer clouds play a critical role in Earth’s energy balance and water cycle.

    ACTIVATE will study the atmosphere over the western North Atlantic Ocean and sample its broad range of aerosol, cloud and meteorological conditions using two aircraft based at NASA’s Langley Research Center. As an integral part of ACTIVATE, a suite of modeling tools and analysis techniques will be employed to inform preflight planning, perform data analysis, and climate model uncertainty quantification and improvement.

  • IMPACTS logo

    Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS)

    Winter snowstorms are frequent on the eastern seaboard and cause major disruptions to transportation, commerce, and public safety. Snowfall within these storms is frequently organized in banded structures that are poorly understood by scientists and poorly predicted by current numerical models. Since that last study on snowstorms, the capabilities of remote sensing technologies and numerical weather prediction models have advanced significantly, making now an ideal time to conduct a well-equipped study to identify key processes and improve remote sensing and forecasting of snowfall.

    The Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS) will fly a complementary suite of remote sensing and in-situ instruments for three 6-week deployments on the ER-2 and P-3 aircraft. IMPACTS will address three specific objectives, providing observations critical to understanding the mechanisms of snowband formation, organization, and evolution. IMPACTS will also examine how the microphysical characteristics and likely growth mechanisms of snow particles vary across snowbands. IMPACTS will improve snowfall remote sensing interpretation and modeling to significantly advance predictive capabilities.

  • Operation IceBridge

    IceBridge, a six-year NASA mission, is the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice ever flown. It will yield an unprecedented three-dimensional view of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves and sea ice. These flights will provide a yearly, multi-instrument look at the behavior of the rapidly changing features of the Greenland and Antarctic ice.

    Follow the Icebridge blog here:

    and follow @NASA_ICE for mission tweets.

  • CAMP2Ex logo

    Cloud, Aerosol and Monsoon Processes Philippines Experiment (CAMP2Ex)

    The Cloud, Aerosol and Monsoon Processes Philippines Experiment (CAMP2Ex) is a response to the need to deconvolute the fields of tropical meteorology and aerosol science at the meso-b to cloud level.  The NASA Earth Science Division will be operating NASA’s P-3 (tail number N426NA) research aircraft and the SPEC, Inc. Lear Jet 35A (tail number N474KA) out of Clark Airport in the Philippines during the period 20 August to 10 October 2019.  The scientific questions to be addressed by the Cloud and Aerosol Monsoonal Processes: Philippines Experiment (CAMP2Ex) are:

    To what extent are aerosol particles responsible for modulating warm and mixed phase precipitation in tropical environments?
    Aerosol and cloud microphysics:  Examine how aerosol particle concentration and composition affect the optical and microphysical properties of shallow cumulous and congest clouds; and how, ultimately, these effects relate to the transition from shallower to deeper convection.

    How does the aerosol and cloud influence on radiation co-vary and interact?
    Cloud and Aerosol Radiation: Study how spatially inhomogeneous and changing aerosol and cloud fields impact three dimensional heating rates and fluxes, and determine the extent to which three dimensional effects may feedback into the evolution of the aerosol, cloud, and precipitation fields.

    To what extent do aerosol induced changes in clouds and precipitation feedback into aerosol lifecycle? How does land use change affect cloud and precipitation change?  Is land use change a confounder for aerosol impacts?
    Aerosol and cloud meteorology:  Determine the meteorological features that are the most influential in regulating the distribution of aerosol particles throughout the regional atmosphere and, ultimately, aerosol lifecycle, and ascertain the extent to which aerosol-cloud interactions studies are confounded and/or modulated by co-varying meteorology.

    The research aircraft will be flown primarily over the ocean in the vicinity of the Philippines, including the ocean west of Luzon.  The flights will include flying over, under and through convective cloud systems.  In accord with NASA Earth Science data policy, the data and scientific results from this field campaign will be freely and openly available.

  • FIREX-AQ logo

    Fire Influence on Regional to Global Environments Experiment - Air Quality (FIREX-AQ)

    Fire Influence on Regional to Global Environments and Air Quality (FIREX-AQ), a joint venture led by NOAA and NASA, provides comprehensive observations to investigate the impact on air quality and climate from wildfires and agricultural fires across the continental United States.

  • SARP logo

    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.

  • ACT-America Logo

    Atmospheric Carbon and Transport (ACT-America)

    ACT-America, or Atmospheric Carbon and Transport – America, will conduct five airborne campaigns across three regions in the eastern United States to study the transport and fluxes of atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane. Each 6-week campaign will measure how weather systems transport these greenhouse gases. The objective of the study is to enable more accurate and precise estimates of the sources and sinks of these gases. Better estimates of greenhouse gas sources and sinks are needed for climate management and for prediction of future climate. ACT America addresses three primary sources of uncertainty in our ability to infer carbon dioxide and methane sources and sinks - transport error, prior flux uncertainty and limited data density.

  • ORACLES Mission Logo

    ORACLES (ObseRvations of Aerosols above CLouds and their intEractionS)

    Southern Africa produces almost a third of the Earth’s biomass burning (BB) aerosol particles, yet the fate of these particles and their influence on regional and global climate is poorly understood. ORACLES (ObseRvations of Aerosols above CLouds and their intEractionS) is a five year investigation with three Intensive Observation Periods (IOP) designed to study key processes that determine the climate impacts of African BB aerosols. Particles lofted into the mid-troposphere are transported westward over the SE Atlantic, home to one of the three permanent subtropical Stratocumulus (Sc) cloud decks in the world. The stratocumulus “climate radiators” are critical to the regional and global climate system. They interact with dense layers of BB aerosols that initially overlay the cloud deck, but later subside and are mixed into the clouds. These interactions include adjustments to aerosol-induced solar heating and microphysical effects. As emphasized in the latest IPCC report, the global representation of these aerosol-cloud interaction processes in climate models is the largest uncertainty in estimates of future climate.

    The ORACLES experiment provides multi-year airborne observations over the complete vertical column of the key parameters that drive aerosol-cloud interactions in the SE Atlantic, an area with some of the largest inter-model differences in aerosol forcing assessments on the planet.

  • ABoVE logo

    Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment — ABoVE

    Climate change in the Arctic and Boreal region is unfolding faster than anywhere else on Earth, resulting in reduced Arctic sea ice, thawing of permafrost soils, decomposition of long- frozen organic matter, widespread changes to lakes, rivers, coastlines, and alterations of ecosystem structure and function. NASA's Terrestrial Ecology Program is conducting a major field campaign, the Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE), in Alaska and western Canada, for 8 to 10 years, starting in 2015. ABoVE seeks a better understanding of the vulnerability and resilience of ecosystems and society to this changing environment.

    ABoVE’s science objectives are broadly focused on (1) gaining a better understanding of the vulnerability and resilience of Arctic and boreal ecosystems to environmental change in western North America, and (2) providing the scientific basis for informed decision-making to guide societal responses at local to international levels. Research for ABoVE will link field-based, process-level studies with geospatial data products derived from airborne and satellite sensors, providing a foundation for improving the analysis, and modeling capabilities needed to understand and predict ecosystem responses and societal implications.

  • LISTOS Study Area

    Long Island Sound Tropospheric Ozone Study (LISTOS)

    The Long Island Sound Tropospheric Ozone Study (LISTOS) is a multi-agency collaborative study focusing on Long Island Sound and the surrounding coastlines that continue to suffer from poor air quality exacerbated by land/water circulations. The primary measurement operations are planned between June-September 2018 and include, but not limited to, in situ and remotely sensing instrumentation integrated aboard three aircrafts, a network of ground sites, mobile vehicle and boat measurements. The goal of this study is to improve the understanding of ozone chemistry and transport from New York City and upwind regions to downwind areas, particularly over Long Island Sound. Despite air quality improvements nationwide, the population in this region still suffers from high ozone concentrations year-to-year. The science team plans to work toward assessing emissions inventories over the region, as well as investigating the complicated chemistry and dynamic patterns associated with Long Island Sound and its coastlines influenced by sea breeze transported pollution.

    This study extends on previous missions with similar research goals of increased understanding of poor air quality along coastlines influenced land/sea breeze interactions, including: DISCOVER-AQ over Chesapeake Bay (2011) and Gulf of Mexico/Galveston Bay (2013), LMOS in Western Lake Michigan (2017), and OWLETS over the lower (2017) and upper (2018) Chesapeake Bay.  


  • ATom Mission Logo

    Atmospheric Tomography Mission (ATom)

    The Atmospheric Tomography Mission (ATom) will study the impact of human-produced air pollution on greenhouse gases and on chemically reactive gases in the atmosphere. Reductions of atmospheric concentrations of methane (CH4), tropospheric ozone (O3) and black carbon (BC) aerosols are effective measures to slow global warming and to improve air quality. Airborne instruments will look at how atmospheric chemistry is transformed by various air pollutants and at the impact on CH4 and O3.  Mitigation of these short-lived climate forcers is a major component of current international policy discussions.

    ATom deploys an extensive gas and aerosol payload on the NASA DC-8 aircraft for systematic, global-scale sampling of the atmosphere, profiling continuously from 0.2 to 12 km altitude. Flights will occur in each of 4 seasons over a 4-year period. They will originate from the Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, California, fly north to the western Arctic, south to the South Pacific, east to the Atlantic, north to Greenland, and return to California across central North America. ATom establishes a single, contiguous global-scale data set. This comprehensive data set will be used to improve the representation of chemically reactive gases and short-lived climate forcers in global models of atmospheric chemistry and climate. Profiles of the reactive gases will also provide critical information for validation of satellite data, particularly in remote areas where in situ data is lacking.

    ATom’s tomographic, large-scale sampling combined with parcel-by-parcel quantification of photochemical tendencies provides a strong response to the 2011 NASA Strategic Plan to Advance Earth System Science: meeting the challenges of climate and environmental change on a global scale.

    ATom improves predictions of human-caused and natural changes in climate forcing and air quality over the entire globe, engaging the science Focus Areas: Atmospheric Composition (primary); Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems (role of CH4), and Climate Variability and Change (radiative forcing of CH4 and O3).

  • NAAMES Logo

    North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES)

    The North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES) is an interdisciplinary investigation resolving key processes controlling marine ecosystems and aerosols that are essential to our understanding of Earth system function and future change. NAAMES is funded by the NASA Earth Venture Suborbital Program and is the first EV-S mission focused on studying the coupled ocean ecosystem and atmosphere.

    Plankton ecosystems of the global ocean profoundly affect climate and life on Earth. NASA's ocean color satellite record tells us that these invaluable ecosystems are highly responsive to climate variability, with changes in ocean production impacting food production, uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and emission of climate-regulating aerosols. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) simulations suggest that surface ocean temperatures will warm by +1.3 to +2.8 degrees C globally over the 21st century, with major consequences on physical properties of the surface ocean where plankton populations thrive. The pressing question is, how will these changes alter plankton production, species composition, and aerosol emissions? Today, even the sign of these potential changes remains unresolved. Our ability to predict Earth System consequences of a warming ocean and develop realistic mitigation and adaption strategies depends on resolving conflicting hypotheses regarding the factors controlling plankton ecosystems and biogenic aerosol emissions.

    NAAMES consists of four, combined ship and aircraft field campaigns that are each aligned to a specific event in the annual plankton lifecycle. Ship-based measurements provide detailed characterization of plankton stocks, rate processes, and community composition. Ship measurements also characterize sea water volatile organic compounds, their processing by ocean ecosystems, and the concentrations and properties of gases and particles in the overlying atmosphere. These diverse data are extended over broader spatial scales through parallel airborne remote sensing measurements and in situ aerosol sampling that target ocean properties as well as the aerosols and clouds above. The airborne data crucially link local-scale processes and properties to the much larger scale continuous satellite record. Integrating the NAAMES observations with state-of-the-art climate and ecosystems models enables the creation of a process-based foundation for resolving plankton dynamics in other ocean regions, accurately interpreting historical satellite records, and improving predictions of future change and their societal impacts.

  • NASA ER-2

    Hyperspectral Infrared Imager (HyspIRI) Airborne Campaign

    The Hyperspectral Infrared Imager or HyspIRI mission will study the world’s ecosystems and provide critical information on natural disasters such as volcanoes, wildfires and drought. HyspIRI will be able to identify the type of vegetation that is present and whether the vegetation is healthy. The mission will provide a benchmark on the state of the worlds ecosystems against which future changes can be assessed. The mission will also assess the pre-eruptive behavior of volcanoes and the likelihood of future eruptions as well as the carbon and other gases released from wildfires.

    The HyspIRI mission includes two instruments mounted on a satellite in Low Earth Orbit. There is an imaging spectrometer measuring from the visible to short wave infrared (VSWIR: 380 nm - 2500 nm) in 10 nm contiguous bands and a multispectral imager measuring from 3 to 12 um in the mid and thermal infrared (TIR). The VSWIR and TIR instruments both have a spatial resolution of 60 m at nadir. The VSWIR will have a revisit of of 19 days and the TIR will have a revisit of 5 days. HyspIRI also includes an Intelligent Payload Module (IPM) which will enable direct broadcast of a subset of the data.

    NASA will conduct airborne campaigns for the HyspIRI mission.  For these campaigns, NASA will fly the Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) and the MODIS/ASTER Airborne Simulator (MASTER) instruments on a NASA ER-2 aircraft  to collect precursor datasets in advance of the Hyperspectral Infrared Imager (HyspIRI) mission. The primary goal of this activity is to demonstrate important science and applications research that is uniquely enabled by HyspIRI like data, taking advantage of the contiguous spectroscopic measurements of the AVIRIS, the full suite of MASTER TIR bands, or combinations of measurements from both instruments.

  • Aerosol Characterization from Polarimeter and Lidar (ACEPOL)

      The Aerosol Characterization from Polarimeter and Lidar (ACEPOL) campaign performs aerosol and cloud observations over the Western USA in October and November 2017. It is a collaborative effort among the NASA ACE pre-formulation study and the CALIPSO project as well as the Netherlands Institute for Space Research.
       ACEPOL’s objective is to assess the capabilities of proposed future instruments by the ACE pre-formulation study to answer fundamental science questions associated with aerosols, clouds, air quality and global ocean ecosystems. Further, it provides reference data to the ongoing CALIPSO satellite mission. ACEPOL results are also relevant to other satellite missions such as EarthCare, MAIA, METOP-SG, and PACE. In particular, ACEPOL will access retrieval of aerosol and cloud microphysical and optical parameters, as well aerosol layer height.
       To achieve the ACEPOL objectives, multiple airborne polarimeters (AirHARP, AirMSPI, AirSPEX, and RSP) and lidars (CPL and HSRL-2) are deployed on NASA’s high altitude ER-2 aircraft to simulate satellite remote sensing observations. The ACEPOL data are quantitatively compared between the different instruments, against ground based reference data (AERONET, GroundMSPI, MPLnet, etc.), and against satellite observations (CATS-ISS, MISR, MODIS, CALIPSO). ACEPOL results will enable the development of novel aerosol and cloud retrieval algorithms by unlocking the full information content provided by the combination of active and passive instruments.

  • Active Sensing of CO2 Emissions over Nights, Days, & Seasons (ASCENDS)

    NASA is honing new carbon dioxide measurement techniques and technologies from onboard its DC-8 aircraft during the Active Sensing of CO2 Emissions over Nights, Days and Seasons (ASCENDS) mission.

  • AirSWOT logo

    Airborne Surface Water and Ocean Topography (AirSWOT)

    The Airborne Surface Water and Ocean Topography, or AirSWOT, project uses an interferometer mounted in a NASA King Air B200. The Ka-band radar interferometer will help the science team determine the kinetic energy of the ocean circulation and how the ocean uptake of heat and carbon is being transferred into the atmosphere to verify its effects on climate change. The sensor is also collecting hydrology measurements of the storage changes in terrestrial surface water bodies, soil content depending on seasonal changes, and river discharges into large bodies of water like the ocean.

  • CPEX logo

    Convective Processes Experiment (CPEX)

    The NASA Convective Processes Experiment (CPEX) aircraft campaign will take place in the North Atlantic Ocean during the summer of 2017. This campaign hopes to collect data that could help to answer questions about convective storm initiation, organization, and growth. For this effort, NASA's DC-8 aircraft will log 100 hours of flight time and be equipped with multiple instruments capable of taking measurements that will help scientists improve their understanding of convective processes.

  • CORAL Logo

    COral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL)

    It is estimated that 33-50% of coral reefs worldwide have been largely or completely degraded (International Society for Reef Studies Consensus Statement, October 2015). Yet the data supporting these predictions are surprisingly sparse, and thereby their relation to the environment is unclear. The COral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) will pave the way to better predict the future of this global ecosystem and steward them through global change by addressing the question: What is the relationship between coral reef condition and biogeophysical forcing parameters?

    CORAL covers the Mariana Islands, Palau, portions of the Great Barrier Reef, and the Main Hawaiian Islands. These regions cover wide ranges of reef type, physical forcing, human threats, and biodiversity.

    CORAL will provide the most extensive and uniform picture to date of coral reef condition through the use of the Portable Remote Imaging Spectrometer (PRISM) instrument aboard the Tempus Applied Solutions Gulfstream-IV (G-IV) aircraft. PRISM will record the spectra of light reflected upward toward the instrument from the ocean below. Its very high spectral resolution is then used to identify reef composition (i.e., coral, algae, and sand) and model primary production. In situ data are obtained to validate the remote observations.

  • OMG Logo

    Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG)

    Global sea level rise will be one of the major environmental challenges of the 21st Century. Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) will pave the way for improved estimates of sea level rise by addressing the question: To what extent are the oceans melting Greenland’s ice from below? Over a five-year campaign, OMG will observe changing water temperatures on the continental shelf surrounding Greenland, and how marine glaciers react to the presence of warm, salty Atlantic Water. The complicated geometry of the sea floor steers currents on the shelf and often determines whether Atlantic Water can reach into the long narrow fjords and interact with the coastal glaciers. Because knowledge of these pathways is a critical component of modeling the interaction between the oceans and ice sheet, OMG will facilitate improved measurements of the shape and depth of the sea floor in key regions as well.

    OMG will use NASA’s G-III to fly the Glacier and Ice Surface Topography Interferometer (GLISTIN-A) in order to generate high resolution, high precision elevation measurements of Greenland’s coastal glaciers during the spring. Annual surveys by GLISTIN will measure glacier thinning and retreat over the preceding season. A second aircraft campaign, also on the NASA G-III, will be occur each year in the summer to deploy 250 expendable temperature and salinity probes along the continental shelf to measure the volume, extent, of warm, salty Atlantic Water. These data, along with fundamental new and critical observations of airborne marine gravity and ship-based observations of the sea floor geometry will provide a revolutionary data set for modeling ocean/ice interactions and lead to improved estimates of global sea level rise.

  • KORUS-AQ: An International Cooperative Air Quality Field Study in Korea logo

    KORUS-AQ: Korea-United States Air Quality Study

    KORUS-AQ offers the opportunity to further advance NASA goals and those of its international partners related to air quality through a targeted field study focused on the South Korean peninsula and surrounding waters. The study, taking place April-June 2016, will integrate observations from aircraft, ground sites, and satellites with air quality models to understand the factors controlling air quality across urban, rural, and coastal interfaces. 

    KORUS-AQ Twitter:

  • OLYMPEX Logo

    Olympic Mountain Experiment (OLYMPEX)

    The Olympic Mountains Experiment (OLYMPEX) is a ground validation field campaign designed to verify and validate satellite measurement of precipitation from the constellation of satellites known as the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM). The primary goal of OLYMPEX is to validate rain and snow measurements in midlatitude frontal systems moving from ocean to coast to mountains and to determine how remotely sensed measurements of precipitation by GPM can be applied to a range of hydrologic, weather forecasting and climate data. OLYMPEX will have a wide variety of ground instrumentation, and several radars and aircraft monitoring oceanic storm systems as they approach and traverse the Peninsula and the Olympic Mountains. The intensive observing period will be from November 2015 through February 2016.

  • CARVE mission overview image

    Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE)

    The carbon budget of Arctic ecosystems is not known with confidence since fundamental elements of the complex Arctic biological-climatologic-hydrologic system are poorly quantified. CARVE will collect detailed measurements of important greenhouse gases on local to regional scales in the Alaskan Arctic and demonstrate new remote sensing and improved modeling capabilities to quantify Arctic carbon fluxes and carbon cycle-climate processes. Ultimately, CARVE will provide an integrated set of data that will provide unprecedented experimental insights into Arctic carbon cycling.

    CARVE will use the Arctic-proven C-23 Sherpa aircraft to fly an innovative airborne remote sensing payload. It includes an L-band radiometer/radar and a nadir-viewing spectrometer to deliver the first simultaneous measurements of surface parameters that control gas emissions (i.e., soil moisture, freeze/thaw state, surface temperature) and total atmospheric columns of carbon dioxide, methane, and carbon monoxide. The aircraft payload also includes a gas analyzer that links greenhouse gas measurements directly to World Meteorological Organization standards. Deployments will occur during the spring, summer and early fall when Arctic carbon fluxes are large and change rapidly. Further, at these times, the sensitivities of ecosystems to external forces such as fire and anomalous variability of temperature and precipitation are maximized. Continuous ground-based measurements provide temporal and regional context as well as calibration for CARVE airborne measurements.


  • AirMOSS mission logo

    Airborne Microwave Observatory of Subcanopy and Subsurface (AirMOSS)

    The Airborne Microwave Observatory of Subcanopy and Subsurface, or AirMOSS, investigation is gathering high-resolution measurements of root-zone soil moisture in representative areas of North American ecosystems, quantifying the impact of variations in soil moisture on the estimation of regional carbon fluxes, and extrapolating the estimates of regional carbon fluxes to the North American continental scale.  AirMoss uses an airborne ultra-high frequency synthetic aperture radar capable of penetrating through substantial vegetation canopies and soil to depths down to 4 feet (1.2 meters). For this mission, NASA's Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar, or UAVSAR, in P-band configuration is mounted in a pod and flown on a NASA G-III.

  • PECAN mission logo

    Plains Elevated Convection At Night (PECAN)

    PECAN is a large meteorology experiment sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA), and the Department Of Energy (DOE). The scientific goal of the project is to collect data before and during nighttime severe storms in order to learn how they form, why some become severe, and how to predict them better.

    PECAN will use 8 mobile radars, 3 research aircraft, dozens of mobile weather balloon launching systems, mobile and deployable weather instruments, laser systems, and other cutting-edge targetable instruments to “chase” severe nighttime storms.

    Major scientific questions include:

    - How do small-scale features in the atmosphere cause and maintain convection after sunset?

    - What processes control the intensity and severity of nighttime MCSs?

    - What observations are needed to improve forecasts of the formation and evolution of nighttime storms?

  • ATTREX Mission Logo

    Airborne Tropical Tropopause Experiment (ATTREX)

    Despite its low concentration, stratospheric water vapor has large impacts on the earth’s energy budget and climate. Recent studies suggest that even small changes in stratospheric humidity may have climate impacts that are significant compared to those of decadal increases in greenhouse gases. Future changes in stratospheric humidity and ozone concentration in response to changing climate are significant climate feedbacks.

    While the tropospheric water vapor climate feedback is well represented in global models, predictions of future changes in stratospheric humidity are highly uncertain because of gaps in our understanding of physical processes occurring in the Tropical Tropopause Layer (TTL, ~13-18 km), the region of the atmosphere that controls the composition of the stratosphere. Uncertainties in the TTL chemical composition also limit our ability to predict future changes in stratospheric ozone.

    Airborne Tropical TRopopause EXperiment (ATTREX) will perform a series of measurement campaigns using the long-range NASA Global Hawk (GH) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to directly address these problems.

  • ARISE logo

    Arctic Radiation - IceBridge Sea & Ice Experiment (ARISE)

    Overall Objective:

    Acquire well calibrated data sets using aircraft and surface-based sensors to support the use of NASA satellite and other assets for developing a quantitative process level understanding of the relationship between changes in Arctic ice and regional energy budgets as influenced by clouds.

    Specific Objectives:

    1. From the NASA C-130, measure spectral and broadband radiative flux profiles, quantify surface characteristics, cloud properties, and other atmospheric state parameters under a variety of Arctic atmospheric and surface conditions (including open water, sea ice, and land ice), and coinciding with satellite overpasses when possible.

    2. Acquire detailed measurements of land and sea ice characteristics to help bridge a gap in NASA satellite observations of changing Arctic Ice conditions.

    3. Utilize surface-based targets of opportunity to complement ARISE sampling strategies with the NASA C-130, including long-term monitoring stations, research vessels, and other surface and aircraft in-situ measurement campaigns that provide corresponding information on surface conditions, radiation, cloud properties and atmospheric state.

  • Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) logo

    Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3)

    The Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) is a five-year mission specifically targeted to investigate the processes that underlie hurricane formation and intensity change in the Atlantic Ocean basin. HS3 is motivated by hypotheses related to the relative roles of the large-scale environment and storm-scale internal processes. HS3 addresses the controversial role of the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) in tropical storm formation and intensification as well as the role of deep convection in the inner-core region of storms. Addressing these science questions requires sustained measurements over several years due to the limited sampling opportunities in any given hurricane season. Past NASA hurricane field campaigns have all faced the same limitation: a relatively small sample (3-4) of storms forming during the campaigns under a variety of scenarios and undergoing widely varying evolutions. The small sample is not just a function of tropical storm activity in any given year, but also the distance of storms from the base of operations.

    The NASA Global Hawk UASs are ideal platforms for investigations of hurricanes, capable of flight altitudes greater than 55,000 ft and flight durations of up to 30 h. HS3 will utilize two Global Hawks, one with an instrument suite geared toward measurement of the environment and the other with instruments suited to inner-core structure and processes. The environmental payload includes the scanning High-resolution Interferometer Sounder (HIS), dropsondes, theTWiLiTE Doppler wind lidar, and the Cloud Physics Lidar (CPL) while the over-storm payload includes the HIWRAP conically scanning Doppler radar, the HIRAD multi-frequency interferometric radiometer, and the HAMSR microwave sounder. Field measurements will take place for one month each during the hurricane seasons of 2012-2014.

  • DISCOVER-AQ Mission logo

    Deriving Information on Surface Conditions from Column and Vertically Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality (DISCOVER-AQ)

    DISCOVER-AQ is a four-year campaign to improve the use of satellites to monitor air quality for public health and environmental benefit Through targeted airborne and ground- based observations, DISCOVER-AQ will enable more effective use of current and future satellites to diagnose ground level conditions influencing air quality.
    The overarching objective of the DISCOVER-AQ investigation is to improve the interpretation of satellite observations to diagnose near-surface conditions relating to air quality. To diagnose air quality conditions from space, reliable satellite information on aerosols and ozone precursors is needed for specific, highly correlated times and locations to be used in air quality models and compared to surface- and aircraft-based measurements. DISCOVER-AQ will provide an integrated dataset of airborne and surface observations relevant to the diagnosis of surface air quality conditions from space.

  • IPHEx logo

    Integrated Precipitation and Hydrology Experiment (IPHEx)

    The Integrated Precipitation and Hydrology Experiment (IPHEx) is a ground validation field campaign that will take place in the southern Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States from May 1 to June 15, 2014. IPHEx is co-led by NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement mission, with partners at Duke University and NOAA's Hydrometerological Testbed.

    The field campaign has two primary goals. The first is to evaluate how well observations from precipitation-monitoring satellites, including the recently launched GPM Core Observatory, match up to the best estimate of the true precipitation measured at ground level and how that precipitation is distributed in clouds. The second is to use the collected precipitation data to evaluate models that describe and predict the hydrology of the region. These models are used for predicting how much water is available in rivers and aquifers, for resource management and for flood and landslide prediction in the Upper Tennessee, Catawba-Santee, Yadkin-Pee Dee and Savannah river basins.

    A number of instruments in the region already measure rain from the ground, and this campaign will add more. In the Pigeon River basin on the North Carolina side of the Upper Tennessee watershed and the Catawba River Basin in North and South Carolina, rain gauges, stream gauges, instruments called disdrometers that measure drop size, soil moisture sensors, and other equipment will measure rainfall.

    The NASA Polarimetric weather radar (NPOL) and the Dual-frequency, Dual-polarimetric, Doppler radar (D3R) will be located on a cattle ranch in southern Rutherford County, North Carolina just across the Carolinas' border and north of Spartanburg S.C., and the NOAA X-band polarimetric radar (NOXP)  will be located on a ridge above the Pigeon Basin. These radars will take measurements of the air column above the river basins. Other smaller radars throughout the study area will get radar coverage of the region that’s as good as possible, given the challenges of the mountainous terrain.

    In addition to the ground measurements, NASA's ER-2 plane will fly above with instruments to simulate satellite measurements, and the University of North Dakota's Citation aircraft will fly inside storms to measure raindrops and precipitation particles inside clouds. Data from satellite overpasses will also be included.

    Together all the data will be used to improve rainfall estimates from the GPM Core Observatory and other precipitation satellites.