• 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 understand the damage.

  • 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 Wildfires

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

  • 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 Science Flights

    With the help of NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, Swift Engineering of San Clemente, California, completed a two-hour flight test of their Swift High-Altitude Long-Endurance (HALE) UAS. The applications of the technology – for science, agriculture, and disaster response – could have a real impact on our everyday lives.

  • SARP intern takes an air sample

    NASA Airborne Science Interns Gathering Data at Home

    Every summer since 2009, the NASA Student Airborne Research Program (SARP) has brought about 30 undergraduate STEM students from across the United States to California for an internship experience with NASA Earth Science research that includes flights on a research aircraft. This year with COVID-19 travel and social distancing restrictions in place, SARP might be grounded but the internship continues with new at-home data collection as well as the analysis of previously collected aircraft, ground and satellite data.

  • Mississippi River Delta, coastal Louisiana. NASA's Delta-X mission seeks to learn how sea-level rise affects the area. Credits: Jaimie Tuchman / Adobe Stock

    NASA Prepares for New Science Flights Above Coastal Louisiana

    Delta-X, a new NASA airborne investigation, is preparing to embark on its first field campaign in the Mississippi River Delta in coastal Louisiana. Beginning in April, the Delta-X science team, led by Principal Investigator Marc Simard of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, will be collecting data by air and by boat to better understand why some parts of the delta are disappearing due to sea-level rise while other parts are not.

  • The image shows a thermokarst lake in Alaska. Thermokarst lakes form in the Arctic when permafrost thaws. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    NASA Flights Detect Millions of Arctic Methane Hotspots

    The Arctic is one of the fastest warming places on the planet. As temperatures rise, the perpetually frozen layer of soil, called permafrost, begins to thaw, releasing methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These methane emissions can accelerate future warming—but to understand to what extent, we need to know how much methane may be emitted, when and what environmental factors may influence its release.

  • The HU-25 Falcon, pictured here, will fly under and through the clouds, where a suite of instruments will take samples directly from the surrounding air to measure everything from aerosol properties to droplet composition to gas. Instrument probes are visible here protruding from the top of the aircraft. Credits: NASA/David C. Bowman

    Probing the Hazy Mysteries of Marine Clouds

    A new NASA airborne science mission will take researchers on coordinated flights above, through and below the clouds over the western North Atlantic Ocean. The Aerosol Cloud Meteorology Interactions Over the Western Atlantic Experiment (ACTIVATE) is scheduled to begin the first of six flight campaigns this week at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

  • NASA’s P-3 and ER-2 research planes are studying East Coast snowstorms Jan 17-Mar 1, 2020. Credit: NASA Credits: NASA

    NASA Snow-Chasers Set to Fly Into East Coast Winter Storms

    This month NASA is sending a team of scientists, a host of ground instruments, and two research aircraft to study the inner workings of snowstorms. The Investigation of Microphysics Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms, or IMPACTS, has its first deployment in a multi-year field campaign from Jan. 17 through March 1. It will be the first comprehensive study of East Coast snowstorms in 30 years.

  • In 2020 NASA will deploy five new airborne campaigns across the United States to investigate fundamental Earth processes that affect human lives and the environment, from snowstorms along the East Coast to the sinking coastline of the Mississippi River delta. Credit: NASA Credits: NASA

    Media Invited to Preview of New NASA Field Campaigns

    NASA is inviting members of the media to a behind-the-scenes tour and briefing on five new research campaigns that will take to the field in 2020 to explore questions critical to understanding our home planet. The event is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 7, from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PST at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, Building 703, in Palmdale, California.

  • A photo from the window of NASA's DC-8 shows the rift across the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf running off toward the horizon. The plane flew across the crevasse on Oct. 26, 2011 as part of NASA's Operation IceBridge, and also flew directly over the rift for about 18 miles, taking detailed measurements of its depth, width and shape. The ice shelf hadn't calved a major iceberg since 2001, and IceBridge took advantage of the opportunity afforded by spotting the crack to fly over it and measure its characteris

    NASA’s Operation IceBridge Completes Eleven Years of Polar Surveys

    For eleven years from 2009 through 2019, the planes of NASA’s Operation IceBridge flew above the Arctic, Antarctic and Alaska, gathering data on the height, depth, thickness, flow and change of sea ice, glaciers and ice sheets.

  • NASA to Study East Coast Snowstorms from VA. Skies

    NASA has announced it will use Wallops Island Flight Facility, just south of Chincoteague Island, as a jumping-off point to study Atlantic snowstorms starting in January.

    It’s the first major field campaign to study East Coast snowstorms in 30 years.

    The Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS) study will send a high-altitude aircraft (flying from Savannah, Georgia) and a cloud-sampling aircraft (flying from Wallops Island) to look closer at how snow is distributed in the clouds.

    NASA explains that the “cloud processes” responsible for snowstorms are difficult to measure, and forecast models can’t reproduce them very well. That makes for poor snowfall predictions.

    “People see pictures of these big swaths of clouds and think they’re snowing everywhere, but they’re not,” said IMPACTS principal investigator Lynn McMurdie at the University of Washington in Seattle. “Inside the clouds are these long narrow regions of more intense snow bands. We’re trying to understand why they form and how they evolve with the developing storm.”

    Since the last time East Coast snowstorms were studied from the air, instruments have become much more advanced. NASA says now is “an ideal time to conduct a well-equipped study to identify key processes and improve remote sensing and forecasting of snowfall.”

    NASA’s ER-2 and P-3 aircraft will fly for three six-week deployments.

    -Meg Walburn Viviano

  • Five new NASA field research campaigns investigating a number of phenomena across the United States get underway this year. Credits: NASA

    NASA Embarks on Five U.S. Expeditions Targeting Air, Land and Sea

    NASA is sending five airborne campaigns across the United States in 2020 to investigate fundamental processes that ultimately impact human lives and the environment, from snowstorms along the East Coast to ocean eddies off the coast of San Francisco.

  • Air-LUSI takes off aboard an ER2 out of NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, CA for an airborne campaign to measure the Moon from Nov. 13 – 17, 2019. Credits: NASA Photo / Ken Ulbrich

    New Moon-Seeking Sensor Aims to Improve Earth Observations

    A new instrument with its eye on the Moon is taking off aboard a high-altitude NASA plane to measure the Moon’s brightness and eventually help Earth observing sensors make more accurate measurements.

  • Views from NASA's Methane Source Finder, a tool that provides methane data for the state of California. The data are derived from airborne remote-sensing, surface-monitoring networks and satellites and are presented on an interactive map alongside infrastructure information. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    A Third of California Methane Traced to a Few Super-Emitters

    NASA scientists are helping California create a detailed, statewide inventory of methane point sources - highly concentrated methane releases from single sources - using a specialized airborne sensor. The new data, published this week in the journal Nature, can be used to target actions to reduce emissions of this potent greenhouse gas.

  • The tongue of Antarctica’s Dibble Glacier, as seen from the first flight of IceBridge’s final polar campaign. Credit: John Sonntag/NASA

    IceBridge Takes Flight from Down Under

    IceBridge has been gathering data on Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice for 10 years. It was designed to ‘bridge the gap’ in between the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat), which stopped collecting data in 2009, and ICESat-2, which launched in September 2018. Over the past decade, IceBridge has been based out of airports in Alaska, Greenland, Chile, Argentina and Antarctica – but for this final polar campaign, it has a new base at Hobart in Tasmania, Australia.

  • NASA’s P-3B science aircraft is fitted with remote-sensing instruments to measure a number of variables within and near clouds, including those related to precipitation and cloud droplets as well as aerosol size and composition. Credits: NASA

    Philippine Airborne Campaign Targets Weather, Climate Science

    Led by NASA, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and the Manila Observatory in conjunction with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration and the Philippine Department of Science and Technology, CAMP2Ex comprises an interdisciplinary, international team of field researchers, modelers and remote sensing developers.

  • Researchers dig out and measure a block of soil in Saskatchewan, Canada, during a field expedition for NASA’s ABoVE campaign. Soils in the Arctic and boreal regions have very thick organic mats that release large quantities of carbon to the atmosphere when a wildfire burns them. Credits: Sander Veraverbeke

    NASA Studies How Arctic Wildfires Change the World

    Wildfires in the Arctic often burn far away from populated areas, but their impacts are felt around the globe. From field and laboratory work to airborne campaigns and satellites, NASA is studying why boreal forests and tundra fires have become more frequent and powerful and what that means for climate forecasting, ecosystems and human health.

  • 2019 NASA Student Airborne Research Program (SARP) students, mentors and faculty pose in front of the NASA DC-8 airborne laboratory. Credits: Megan Schill / NASA SARP

    Student Airborne Research Program Takes Flight over California

    Twenty-eight undergraduate students are participating in an eight-week NASA airborne science field experience this summer that will immerse them in the agency's Earth Science research.

  • NASA’s ER-2 aircraft, based at Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, California, flies above the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, California, on Dec. 7, 2017. The aircraft was equipped with instrumentation to observe and measure everything from smoke aerosols to the combustion process as fuel burns and fire temperatures. The ER-2 will also make those observations and more during this year’s Fire Influence on Regional to Global Environments and Air Quality (FIREX-AQ) campaign. Credits: NASA/Tim William

    Through Smoke and Fire, NASA Searches for Answers

    This summer, NASA is embarking on several field campaigns across the world to investigate longstanding questions surrounding fire and smoke. Aircraft will fly through smoke and clouds to improve air quality, weather and climate forecasting, and investigate fire-burned forests to capture ecosystem changes that have global impact.

  • The Greenland Ice Sheet is the second-largest body of ice in the world, covering roughly 650,000 square miles of Greenland's surface. If it melts completely, it could contribute up to 23 feet of sea level rise, according to a new study using data from NASA's Operation IceBridge.

    Study Predicts More Long-Term Sea Level Rise from Greenland Ice

    Greenland’s melting ice sheet could generate more sea level rise than previously thought if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase and warm the atmosphere at their current rate, according to a new modeling study. The study, which used data from NASA’s Operation IceBridge airborne campaign, was published in Science Advances today.

  • Looking For Freshwater In All the Snowy Places

    Snowflakes that cover mountains or linger under tree canopies are a vital freshwater resource for over a billion people around the world. To help determine how much freshwater is stored in snow, a team of NASA-funded researchers is creating a computer-based tool that simulates the best way to detect snow and measure its water content from space.

  • NASA Explores Our Changing Freshwater World

    Researchers funded by NASA have used satellite and airborne data to better inform existing tools for flooding, drought forecasts and famine relief efforts, and for planning and monitoring regional water supplies. These efforts are tackling some of the most pressing needs of people around the world.

  • A modified U-2 spy plane will help researchers assess threats to the ozone layer over the United States. NASA PHOTO/CARLA THOMAS

    Modified spy plane to see whether towering storms pose new threat to ozone layer

    NASA's ER-2 is again preparing to soar to the overworld in search of a potential new threat to the ozone layer.

  • The High Altitude Lidar Observatory (HALO) system electronics and diagnostic tools are integrated onto the DC-8 airborne science laboratory at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. The lidar system control electronics are on the right hand side of the rack. The large monitors on the left are used to display real-time images of water vapor and aerosol profiles, which are used by the science team to guide in-flight decisions and navigation. The compact HALO instrument head can be seen

    Illuminating Gases in The Sky: NASA Technology Pinpoints Potent Greenhouse Gases

    Research scientists at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, have created a new airborne instrument that can directly measure water vapor and floating particles in the atmosphere. The new data will help check the accuracy of satellite measurements, and improve weather and climate forecasts.

  • Reseachers Anna Noe and Eric Altman check out the Doppler Aerosol Wind Lidar (DAWN), an airborne instrument that uses pulsed lasers to detect the movement of atmospheric aerosols such as dust or sea salt. In detecting those movements, it can profile wind vector — both speed and direction. Researchers are testing DAWNs capabilities during flights over the eastern Pacific. Credits: NASA/Lauren Hughes

    NASA Testing Airborne Lasers to Touch the Wind

    A group of NASA researchers could soon be blown away by data they collect during an airborne science campaign that will span from the Pacific coast to Hawaii.

  • Frazil ice (slushy sea ice), leads (openings in the ice pack) and sea smoke in a fjord in Devon Island, Canada, spotted during an Operation IceBridge survey flight on Apr. 3, 2019. Credits: NASA / Eugenia De Marco

    NASA Begins Final Year of Airborne Polar Ice Mission

    This is the last year for Operation IceBridge, NASA’s most comprehensive airborne survey of ice change. Since the launch of its first Arctic campaign in spring 2009, IceBridge has enabled discoveries ranging from water aquifers hidden within snow in southeast Greenland, to the first map indicating where the base of the massive Greenland Ice Sheet is thawed, to detailed depictions of the evolving Arctic sea ice cover and the thickness of the overlying snow.

  • A Decade of Exploring Alaska’s Mountain Glaciers

    In Alaska, 5 percent of the land is covered by glaciers that are losing a lot of ice and contributing to sea level rise. To monitor these changes, a small team of NASA-funded researchers has been flying scientific instruments on a bright red, single-engine plane since spring 2009.

  • The calving front of Jakobshavn Glacier, center. Credits: NASA/OIB/John Sonntag

    Cold Water Currently Slowing Fastest Greenland Glacier

    NASA research shows that Jakobshavn Glacier, which has been Greenland's fastest-flowing and fastest-thinning glacier for the last 20 years, has made an unexpected about-face. Jakobshavn is now flowing more slowly, thickening, and advancing toward the ocean instead of retreating farther inland. The glacier is still adding to global sea level rise — it continues to lose more ice to the ocean than it gains from snow accumulation — but at a slower rate.

  • Optical Engineer Aboubakar Traore looks over the Doppler Aerosol Wind Lidar (DAWN) before it travels from Hampton, Virginia, to Palmdale, California. Credits: NASA/David C. Bowman

    Going Where the Wind Takes It

    Developed at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, DAWN uses laser pulses to take highly accurate measurements of vector wind speed and direction. In the upcoming campaign, which will be based out of NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, California, scientists will use DAWN to validate measurements from Atmospheric Dynamics Mission Aeolus (ADM-Aeolus), a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite that profiles wind speeds across the globe.

  • A large iceberg near Thule Air Base, Greenland. Credits: NASA

    NASA's Greenland Mission Still Surprises in Year Four

    Only seven months after NASA's Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) mission wrapped its last field campaign on the world's largest island, an OMG crew is back in Greenland to collect more data. With two or three field projects a year since 2016, no wonder OMG has made the most comprehensive measurements yet of how ocean water lapping at the undersides of Greenland's melting glaciers affects them. All that data has answered a lot of existing questions — and it's raised plenty of new ones.