Airborne Validation

Airborne platforms are often essential to the calibration and validation of emerging technologies and techniques. They provide a stepping-stone to reduce risk prior to committing new technologies to space missions. They also enable mature instruments and systems to be rapidly put into service on airborne field campaigns, collecting science data and validating satellite observations.

Many ESTO technologies have been demonstrated onboard airplanes, UAVs (Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles) or high-altitude balloons, logging hundreds of flight hours in aggregate. Often, airborne integration and testing occurs during, and within the scope of, the technology development funding. In other cases, ESTO has partnered with platform providers – in particular, NASA's Airborne Science Program – to provide follow-on opportunities and manage technology progress through validation. The UAVSAR (Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle - Synthetic Aperture Radar) project is a prime example of follow-on airborne integration and validation activities.

Field Campaigns
ESTO technologies are regularly infused into field campaigns. A few examples:

  • The 2012 Two-Column Aerosol Project (TCAP), a Department of Energy effort, is using the ESTO-funded High Spectral Resolution LIDAR (HSRL-2) to help quantify aerosol properties, radiation, and cloud characteristics.
  • The 2010 NASA Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP) experiment sought to better understand how tropical storms form and develop into major hurricanes. GRIP used five ESTO technologies during the six-week campaign.
  • In 2009, the Pathfinder Advanced Radar Ice Sounder (PARIS) instrument was tapped to join several other instruments in the NASA Ice Bridge campaign, a six-year airborne survey of Earth’s polar ice.
  • The 2009 NASA Arctic Ice Radar Mission used two ESTO instruments - UAVSAR and the Glacier and Land Ice Surface Topography Interferometer (GLISTIN) - on a two-month expedition to Greenland and Iceland. + Learn More


Airborne Investments

ESTO has partnered with NASA Earth Science Division Research and Applications to solicit proposals to integrate existing instruments, such as those developed under the NASA Instrument Incubator Program (IIP) or other similar development programs, onto platforms supported by the NASA Airborne Science Program. The major goal of the Airborne Instrument Technology Transition (AITT) is to provide campaign ready airborne instrumentation that can that can participate in field experiments, evaluate new satellite instrument concepts, and/or provide calibration and validation of satellite instruments.

Solicitation Link to Solicitation Link to Awards
AITT ROSES 2012 Solicitation [open]
AITT ROSES 2009 Solicitation Awarded Projects