Airborne observations are a critical element in monitoring the integrated systems of the Earth environment. Even in the age of routine global observations from space, aircraft and balloons provide unique vantage points to sample over spatial and temporal scales that are unattainable from space. They supplement satellite views of Earth with direct measurements of the physical, chemical, and dynamical properties of the atmosphere, function as ideal test-beds for new measurements and instruments, and they are necessary for validating the remote, indirect measurements from satellites.
This talk will highlight some of the major achievements of NASA, NOAA, DOE, and NSF sponsored airborne research over the past several decades, deploying on a broad range of platforms that include high altitude former spy planes, unmanned aerial vehicles, and more humble workhorse cargo planes. Although LASP’s history is more closely tied to sounding rockets and satellites, it has a unique role in shaping future airborne missions through the heritage of its scientists and engineers who have contributed to airborne science for decades. We will discuss how LASP promises to play an ever-expanding role in the science and technology of the bright future of airborne science.