• 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.

  • WB-57F jet is readied for a test run at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The instruments are mounted under the silver casing on the nose of the plane. Credits: NASA’s Johnson Space Center/Norah Moran

    Chasing the Total Solar Eclipse from NASA’s WB-57F Jets

    For most viewers, the Aug. 21, 2017, total solar eclipse will last less than two and half minutes. But for one team of NASA-funded scientists, the eclipse will last over seven minutes. Their secret? Following the shadow of the Moon in two retrofitted WB-57F jet planes. 

  • NASA and South Korea used research aircraft for an intensive study in and around the Seoul metropolitan area in 2016 to address the country’s poor air quality and lay the groundwork for next-generation pollution-monitoring satellites. Credits: NASA

    Early Airborne Results Address South Korean Air Quality

    For six weeks in the summer of 2016 scientists from the United States and the Republic of Korea intensively studied air pollution over the Korean peninsula. Their mission: to diagnose the complex causes of the country’s poor air quality and in so doing lay the groundwork for next-generation pollution monitoring from space that both nations plan to launch in the next few years.

  • 65,000 feet above Earth, the NASA ER-2 high-altitude pilot calmly waits to adjust course and intercept lightning producing storms. Credit: NASA

    Hunting for Lightning: A Day at the GOES-16 Post-Launch Field Campaign

    A team of instrument scientists, meteorologists, and specialized pilots have used a high-altitude plane, ground-based sensors, and satellites to collect and compare measurements from across the United States to calibrate and validate the earth viewing instruments on NOAA’s GOES-16 satellite.

  • Students participating in the 2017 NASA Student Airborne Research Program meet the pilots of the NASA Sherpa

    Students to Study Earth from Three NASA Flying Laboratories

    This summer 32 undergraduate students are participating in an eight-week NASA airborne science field campaign designed to immerse them in the agency's Earth science research.

  • NASA's Kurt Blankenship, Matt Kowaleski, Laura Judd and Taylor Thorson are conducting science flights on NASA Langley's UC-12 aircraft as part of the Lake Michigan Ozone Study. Credits: NASA

    NASA Aids Study of Lake Michigan High-Ozone Events

    NASA researchers are conducting science flights along the Wisconsin-Illinois Lake Michigan shoreline to help better understand the formation and transport of ozone, a potent air pollutant in the region.

  • Brown carbon particles produced by wildfires such as the ones that have scorched parts of Georgia and Florida this year are more likely than previously thought to travel to the upper levels of the atmosphere and impact climate. Credits: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC

    Smoke from Wildfires Can Have Lasting Climate Impact

    New research using data collected during NASA airborne science campaigns shows how smoke from wildfires worldwide could impact the atmosphere and climate much more than previously thought.

  • NASA's DC-8 airborne laboratory. Credits: NASA/AFRC

    NASA's CPEX Tackles a Weather Fundamental

    A NASA-funded field campaign underway in Florida has a real shot at improving meteorologists' ability to answer some of the most fundamental questions about weather: Where will it rain? When? How much?

  • Nine planes, based mostly in Fairbanks, Alaska, and Yellowknife, Canada, will fly instruments for ABoVE’s 2017 season. Here, ABoVE scientists and crew of the G-III aircraft stand by the plane, which flies a radar instrument to study soils. Credits: NASA/Peter Griffith

    NASA’s Arctic Ecosystem Science Flights Begin

    A NASA-led effort to advance our ability to monitor changing Arctic and boreal ecosystems has started its second season, with the first aircraft taking flight over Alaska and northwest Canada this month.

  • NASA Polar Ice Survey Flights Conclude

    NASA’s annual survey of changes in Arctic ice cover greatly expanded its reach this year in a series of flights that wrapped up on May 12. It was the most ambitious spring campaign in the region for NASA’s Operation IceBridge, an airborne mission to monitor ice changes at Earth’s poles, which also included a rapid-response flight over a new crack in Petermann Glacier, one of the largest and fastest-changing glaciers in Greenland.

  • Winter sun setting over the tundra polygons in northern Alaska in November 2015. As winter sets in and snow settles, the soils take time to freeze completely and continue to emit carbon dioxide long into the new year. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Charles Miller

    Alaska Tundra Source of Early-Winter Carbon Emissions

    Three years of observations from NASA’s Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE) airborne mission were used in a new study that shows warmer temperatures and thawing soils may be driving an increase in carbon dioxide emissions from Alaskan tundra to the atmosphere.

  • The Wallops Flight Facility Aircraft Office operates the NASA C-23 Sherpa research aircraft available to support airborne science research. The C-23 is a two-engine turboprop aircraft designed to operate under the most arduous conditions, in a wide range of mission configurations. Credits: NASA

    NASA to Measure Greenhouse Gases Over the Mid-Atlantic Region

    In May, a team of Goddard scientists will begin measuring greenhouse gases over the Mid-Atlantic region — an area chosen in part because it encompasses a range of vegetation, climate, and soil types that would influence the exchange of carbon dioxide and methane between the Earth and the atmosphere.