• Christy Hansen

    Christy Hansen - A Force of Nature

    Christy Hansen plans and manages airborne science missions. She helps scientists, engineers and managers to design aircraft-based Earth science missions including milestones and budget, science requirements definition, instruments and aircraft, field logistics and deployment operations, data management, documentation and reporting. 

  • Laura Judd, postdoctoral researcher at NASA Langley, prepares for a LISTOS science flight on the center's HU-25 aircraft. GeoTASO, a remote-sensing instrument that observes reflected sunlight to measure atmospheric trace gases and aerosols over a wide area, is visible in the foreground. Credits: NASA/David C. Bowman

    NASA Joins Effort to Sniff Out Ozone in the Northeast

    A scientific investigation is looking into how ozone forms and how it's being transported around the Long Island Sound. Led by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM), the Long Island Sound Tropospheric Ozone Study (LISTOS) involves researchers from state and federal agencies and academia. Two NASA centers — Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, and Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland — are contributing scientists, pilots, aircraft and aircraft-based remote sensing instruments to the effort.

  • Students, mentors and faculty of the 2018 NASA Student Airborne Research Program pose in front of the NASA DC-8

    Student Airborne Research Program Celebrates Tenth Year

    Twenty-eight undergraduate students are participating in an eight-week NASA airborne science program field experience designed to immerse them in the agency's Earth Science research.

  • Nabesna Glacier. Image Credit: Chris Larsen, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

    Dirty, Crevassed Glaciers in Alaska

    Over the years, scientists have captured spectacular photographs while mapping ice during NASA’s Operation IceBridge mission. Many of the photographs have featured the icy landscapes of Greenland and Antarctica, over which lengthy missions are flown each year over. But the views during shorter duration IceBridge missions over Alaska reveal some equally majestic icescapes.

  • ACT-America: The Story So Far

    A NASA airborne science study looking at the transport of two major greenhouse gases in the eastern half of the U.S. just completed its fourth and next-to-last flight campaign. By measuring how weather systems move carbon dioxide and methane, Atmospheric Carbon and Transport-America, or ACT-America, aims to improve our understanding of where the gases originate and where they're being absorbed. Flight campaigns have covered summer, fall, winter and spring. A final set of flights in 2019 will take a second look at summer, which is a particularly active time for greenhouse gas transport. In this video, ACT-America scientists talk about what the study is revealing so far, the challenges of conducting a multi-year airborne science campaign, and what they hope ACT-America's legacy will be.

  • Help from Above: NASA Aids Kilauea Disaster Response

    On May 3, the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island erupted from new fissures and sent lava flowing over streets and neighborhoods. As the disaster response on the ground lead by the U.S. Geological Survey kicked into gear, managers from NASA’s Earth Science Disasters Program heard from response agencies and sent out a call to NASA’s own researchers, data managers, and satellite teams: What can we do to help?

  • A large iceberg floating among sea ice floes, as seen during an operation IceBridge survey flight on Apr. 21, 2018. Credits: NASA/Linette Boisvert

    NASA Completes Survey Flights to Map Arctic Ice

    Operation IceBridge, NASA’s longest-running airborne mission to monitor polar ice change, concluded this year’s springtime survey of Arctic sea and land ice.

  • Engineers Raquel Rodriguez Monje and Fabien Nicaise discuss placement of the DopplerScatt radar instrument on the NASA B200 before its final installation onto the aircraft’s fuselage. Credits: NASA Photo / Ken Ulbrich

    New Technology Doubles Scientists’ View of Ocean-Air Interactions

    NASA scientists are hard at work trying to unlock mysteries of our planet’s ocean surface currents and winds using a new Earth science radar instrument called DopplerScatt.

  • Sea ice in the Arctic as seen from ATom’s DC-8 in January 2017. Credits: NASA / Róisín Commane

    NASA's World Tour of the Atmosphere Reveals Surprises Along the Way

    Since 2016, a team of scientists with 25 advanced instruments aboard NASA's DC-8 research aircraft has sampled over 400 different gases and a broad range of airborne particles on month-long excursions from Alaska down the Pacific to New Zealand, then over to South America and up the Atlantic to Greenland, and across the Arctic Ocean. Far from land, the atmosphere above the ocean is where to find the cleanest air on the planet — at least in theory. Over the course of three deployments, and with their fourth and final trek beginning in late April, the team has found surprising levels of pollutants above the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

  • Snow-covered pack sea ice north of Greenland. Credits: NASA/Jeremy Harbeck

    NASA Begins Latest Airborne Arctic Ice Survey

    NASA completed the first IceBridge flight of its spring Arctic campaign with a survey of  sea ice north of Greenland. This year marks the tenth Arctic spring campaign for IceBridge. The flights continue until April 27 extending the mission’s decade-long mapping of the fastest-changing areas of the Greenland Ice Sheet and measuring sea ice thickness across the western Arctic basin.

  • Langley researchers, from left, Mulugeta Petros, Upendra Singh and Tamer Refaat inside the King Air B200 aircraft on which they recently tested a new triple-pulse lidar that can simultaneously and independently measure carbon dioxide and water vapor, two powerful greenhouse gases. Credits: NASA/David C. Bowman

    Taking the Pulse of Greenhouse Gases

    NASA's King Air B200 aircraft was flown to test the triple-pulse Integrated Path Differential Absorption (IPDA) lidar, a first-of-its-kind instrument that measures atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor (H2O).

  • NASA’s Longest Running Survey of Ice Shattered Records in 2017

    Last year was a record-breaking one for Operation IceBridge, NASA’s aerial survey of the state of polar ice. For the first time in its nine-year history, the mission, which aims to close the gap between two NASA satellite campaigns that study changes in the height of polar ice, carried out seven field campaigns in the Arctic and Antarctic in a single year. In total, the IceBridge scientists and instruments flew over 214,000 miles, the equivalent of orbiting the Earth 8.6 times at the equator.

  • NASA's Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) airborne radar platform detected changes caused by the debris flows between two images acquired on Nov. 2, 2017, and Feb. 5, 2018. An enhanced image pair (top left) shows disturbed areas in orange. In areas of severe surface disruption from the fire scar and debris flows the two image pairs can't be matched and decorrelate (top right). In the middle panels, the radar images are overlaid on the structure damage map produced by the County of

    California Debris Flows Seen in Before/After Images from NASA's UAVSAR

    Extreme winter rains in January 2018 following the Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties caused severe debris flows, resulting in significant loss of life and considerable property damage in the town on Montecito, just east of Santa Barbara. NASA's Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) airborne radar platform detected changes caused by the debris flows between two images acquired on Nov. 2, 2017, and Feb. 5, 2018. An enhanced image pair (top left) shows disturbed areas in orange. In areas of severe surface disruption from the fire scar and debris flows the two image pairs can't be matched and decorrelate (top right). In the middle panels, the radar images are overlaid on the structure damage map produced by the County of Santa Barbara. The fire scars and damage correspond well with the risk map (lower left) and damage map (lower right). With an operational system, products such as these have the potential to augment information available for search and rescue, and for damage assessment for government agencies or the insurance industry. Radar has the advantage of being available in all weather conditions, as it can image through clouds.

  • NASA’s DC-8 “Flying Laboratory” is on its way to Germany for a joint flight campaign to sample clouds, contrails or aircraft emissions. Credits: NASA

    NASA Takes International Aviation Research to the ‘Max’

    NASA’s ongoing research into what happens with engine performance, emissions and contrail formation when different types of fuels are used in jet engines is headed for the skies over Germany this month.

  • From a Dec. 8, 2017, International Space Station flyover of Southern California, NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik photographed the plumes of smoke rising from wildfires and shared images of the region with his social media followers. Credits: NASA/Randy Bresnik

    NASA Covers Wildfires from Many Sources

    NASA has a fleet of research aircraft carrying the latest sensor technologies that can be used for Earth observations. NASA's ER-2 aircraft, based at Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) in Palmdale, California, flies as high as 70,000 feet (21,300 meters), almost twice as high as a commercial airliner, and is used for science research missions over much of the world. In December 2017, the aircraft flew locally over California wildfire events, testing early versions of science instruments that may one day be launched into space aboard a satellite to observe our home planet Earth.

  • The cock-pit view finder in the ER-2 shows a controlled fire burning near Flagstaff, Arizona on Nov. 7, 2017. This small fire event offered the ACEPOL science team a different test environment to observe with the polarimeter and lidar instruments onboard the aircraft. Credits: NASA / Stu Broce

    Prototype Space Sensors Take Test Ride on NASA ER-2

    Scientists recently completed test flights with prototypes of potential satellite sensors over the Western United States probing basic science questions about aerosols, clouds, air quality and global ocean ecosystems.

  • View from NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s ER-2 aircraft shows smoke plumes, from roughly 65,000 feet, produced by the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, California, around 1 p.m. PST on Dec. 5th, 2017. As of Dec. 6, authorities state 65,000 acres have been burned and the fire remains zero percent contained.  Image Credit: NASA/Stu Broce

    NASA ER-2 Aircraft Flies Over Thomas Fire in California

    During an engineering flight test of the Cloud-Aerosol Multi-Angle Lidar (CAMAL) instrument, a view from NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s ER-2 aircraft shows smoke plumes, from roughly 65,000 feet, produced by the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, California, around 1 p.m. PST on Dec. 5th, 2017. As of Dec. 6, authorities state 65,000 acres have been burned and the fire remains zero percent contained.

    Image Credit: NASA/Stu Broce

  • Left: Greenland topography color-coded from 4,900 feet (1,500 meters) below sea level (dark blue) to 4,900 feet above sea level (brown). Right: regions below sea level connected to the ocean, either shallower than 600 feet (200 meters, light pink); between 600 and 1,000 feet (300 meters, dark pink); or continuously deeper than 1,000 feet below sea level (dark red). The thin white line shows the current extent of the ice sheet. Credits: UCI

    New Greenland Maps Show More Glaciers at Risk


    New maps of Greenland’s coastal seafloor and bedrock beneath its massive ice sheet show that two to four times as many coastal glaciers are at risk of accelerated melting as previously thought.


    Researchers at the University of California at Irvine (UCI), NASA and 30 other institutions have published the most comprehensive, accurate and high-resolution relief maps ever made of Greenland's bedrock and coastal seafloor. Among the many data sources incorporated into the new maps are data from NASA's Ocean Melting Greenland (OMG) campaign.

  • Sea ice forming off the edge of Nobile Glacier on the Antarctic Peninsula during Operation IceBridge’s first flight of the 2017 Antarctic campaign, on Oct, 29, 2017. Credits: NASA/Nathan Kurtz

    IceBridge Launches Two Sets of Antarctic Flights

    Scientists with NASA’s longest-running airborne mission to map polar ice, Operation IceBridge, completed a successful science flight on Oct. 29, inaugurating their 2017 survey of Antarctic sea and land ice. For the first time in its nine years of operations in the southern hemisphere, IceBridge will launch two consecutive, dedicated sets of Antarctic flights from two continents—South America and Antarctica—with two different aircraft and instrument suites.

  • A C-130 from Wallops Flight Facility prepares for ACT-America's fall flight campaign. Credits: NASA/Patrick Black

    ACT-America Aims to Tell Four-Season Greenhouse Gas Story

    NASA scientists are once again on the hunt for greenhouse gases in the sky. Researchers for the Atmospheric Carbon and Transport-America, or ACT-America, study returned to the field last week to measure how weather systems transport carbon dioxide and methane through the atmosphere over the eastern part of the United States.

  • The ATom mission is surveying the world’s atmosphere to better understand how greenhouse gases and pollution are removed from the atmosphere. Credits: NASA

    Global Airborne Mission to Make Ozone Hole Detour

    Atmospheric researchers depart this month on NASA's DC-8 research aircraft on their third survey of the global atmosphere. Taking place for the first time in Northern Hemisphere fall, the season gives them the unique opportunity to make a detour from their previous flight paths to fly underneath the Antarctic ozone hole.

  • Terminus of the Zachariæ Isstrøm glacier in northeast Greenland, as seen from 28,000 feet during an Operation IceBridge flight on Aug. 29, 2017 Credits: NASA/LVIS TEAM

    NASA Flights Map Summer Melt of Greenland Land Ice

    Operation IceBridge is flying in Greenland to measure how much ice has melted over the course of the summer from the ice sheet. The flights, which began on Aug. 25 and will go on until Sept. 21, repeat paths flown this spring and aim to monitor seasonal changes in the elevation of the ice sheet.

  • NASA’s C-23 Sherpa collects ozone data as it flies over Langley. Credits: NASA/David C. Bowman

    NASA Chesapeake Bay Study To Help Improve Air-Quality Forecasts

    The Ozone Water-Land Environmental Transition Study (OWLETS) is a NASA study looking at ozone concentrations around the lower Chesapeake Bay.

  • NASA’s C-130 prepares to leave for its first science flight of the fall campaign. Researchers have integrated, tested and calibrated instruments that will help measure the impact the declining annual phase of plankton on the atmosphere. Credits: NASA/Patrick Black

    NAAMES Returns to Air and Sea to Study Plankton’s Annual Cycle

    NASA’s North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES) returned to air and sea to research the declining, or deaccelerating, phase of the annual cycle of plankton in the North Atlantic. Since plankton form the base of the marine food web and impact the productivity of fisheries, understanding this declining phase is important to forecasting the future.

  • The four SARP 2017 research groups: Tropospheric Chemistry (upper left), Whole Air Sampling (upper right), Ocean Remote Sensing (lower left), Land Vegetation Remote Sensing (lower right). Students posed with their groups after the completion of their final research presentations on August 8 and 9, 2017 at the University of California Irvine. Credits: NASA / Megan Schill

    NASA Interns Complete Earth Science Summer Research Program

    Thirty-two students from colleges and universities across the United States recently completed a NASA summer internship designed to provide them with an airborne Earth science research experience.

  • A collection of broken up sea ice floes of various sizes, floating north of Greenland. Melt ponds are visible on the ice surface. This photo was taken during an Operation IceBridge flight on July 24, 2017. Credits: NASA/Robbie Russell

    NASA Scientists Seek to Improve Sea Ice Predictions

    NASA researchers are working to improve their forecasts of the size of the Arctic sea ice cover at the end of the summer melt season — but the goal is not just to have a better prediction of sea ice coverage. The challenge of making summer sea ice forecasts allows scientists to test their understanding of the processes that control seasonal sea ice growth and retreat, and to fine-tune computer models that represent connections among the ice, atmosphere and ocean.

  • Armstrong’s G-III aircraft will have videographer Lori Losey onboard to capture the total solar eclipse from 25,000 feet altitude. Credits: NASA Photo / Kevin Rohrer

    On Aircraft, Armstrong Kicks off NASA TV Coverage of Solar Eclipse

    A photographer and videographers from NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in California will document the total solar eclipse Aug. 21, which they will be doing from a unique vantage point at about 25,000 feet altitude.

  • NASA’s Global Hawk being prepared at Armstrong to monitor and take scientific measurements of Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

    NASA-led Airborne Mission Studies Storm Intensification in Northern Hemisphere

    A group of NASA and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists are teaming up this month for an airborne mission focused on studying severe storm processes and intensification. The Hand-On Project Experience (HOPE) Eastern Pacific Origins and Characteristics of Hurricanes (EPOCH) field campaign will utilize NASA’s Global Hawk autonomous aircraft to study storms in the Northern Hemisphere to learn more about how storms intensify as they brew out over the ocean. 

  • NASA's P-3 aircraft is prepared for departure from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia early in the morning Aug. 1 to support the agency’s Observations of Aerosols above Clouds and their interactions or ORACLES mission. A five-year investigation, ORACLES is examining the impact aerosols from biomass burning in southern Africa has on climate as it mixes with clouds over the southeast Atlantic Ocean. The 2017 flight campaign, which runs through August, will base from São Tomé, Africa.

    NASA Airborne Mission Returns to Africa to Study Smoke, Clouds

    NASA's P-3 research plane begins flights this month through both clouds and smoke over the South Atlantic Ocean to understand how tiny airborne particles called aerosols change the properties of clouds and how they influence the amount of incoming sunlight the clouds reflect or absorb.

  • Two Decades of Changes in Helheim Glacier

    Since 1997, NASA has collected data over Helheim Glacier almost every year during annual airborne surveys of the Greenland Ice Sheet using an airborne laser altimeter called the Airborne Topographic Mapper (ATM). Since 2009 these surveys have continued as part of Operation IceBridge, NASA’s ongoing airborne survey of polar ice and its longest-running airborne mission. ATM measures the elevation of the glacier along a swath as the plane files along the middle of the glacier. By comparing the changes in the height of the glacier surface from year to year, scientists estimate how much ice the glacier has lost.