College Students Study The Earth From NASA's Flying Laboratory

PALMDALE, Calif. -- Twenty-nine undergraduate and graduate students are participating in a six-week NASA Airborne Science Program field experience designed to immerse them in the agency's Earth Science research. The students represent 28 colleges and universities from across the United States. NASA's Student Airborne Research Program provides a unique opportunity for undergraduates and early graduate students majoring in the sciences, mathematics and engineering to participate in all aspects of a NASA airborne research campaign.

Students fly aboard NASA’s DC-8 aircraft, assisting in the operation of instruments on board the aircraft to sample atmospheric gases, image land and water surfaces and take measurements at field sites.

The program began June 19 at the University of California, Irvine, with lectures by university faculty members, NASA scientists and NASA program managers. Students are divided into three groups to study air pollution in the Los Angeles basin, orchards in California's Central Valley, and the distribution and abundance of giant kelp in the Santa Barbara Channel.

Aboard the DC-8 flying laboratory, which is based at NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., students in the program are given a rare behind-the-scenes look at the instrument integration, flight planning and payload testing that is the basis of every successful Earth Science airborne campaign carried out by NASA. These campaigns play a pivotal role in the calibration and validation of NASA's space-borne Earth observations, remote sensing measurements and high-resolution imagery for Earth system science.

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