Airborne and Field Data

A key component of NASA's Earth Observing System is its field experiments, for intensive observation of particular phenomena such as hurricanes, or for ground validation of satellite observations. These field experiments collect many datasets from a wide variety of satellite, airborne, and ground-based instruments, on different spatial and temporal scales, often in unique formats. Such diverse environmental observations are important for physical process studies, disaster assessment and response, as well as for the validation of environmental satellite observations and atmospheric models, which can improve weather forecasts and representations of Earth’s past and future climate.


The Airborne and Field Data Resource Center is designed to help you find information about NASA's airborne and field campaign suborbital measurements and instruments; provides tools and services to help you find, access, visualize and work with the data; and points you to learning resources for working with these unique data products. The term suborbital pertains to any data products and resources that were not derived from platforms that are orbiting Earth. Therefore, suborbital includes measurements made in the air, on land, and on or within water.

If you are a data producer interested in submitting your suborbital data for archival and distribution, we have information about data standards and the process for submitting your data to NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS).


There are several different types of airborne and field campaign investigations within NASA’s Airborne Science Program (ASP) which cover a wide range of imaging technologies and measurements from passive remote sensing (multi-spectral, hyperspectral) to active remote sensing (laser altimeters, synthetic aperture radar), in-situ atmospheric chemistry and composition, hazardous weather and its dynamical physical processes, snow and ice, cryosphere and climate measurements, terrestrial hydrology, biogeochemical and ecological datasets, and more.

NASA’s Airborne Science Program

The Airborne Science Program within the Earth Science Division is responsible for providing aircraft systems that further science and advance the use of satellite data. The primary objectives of this program are to:

  • Calibrate and Validate Satellites
    Provide platforms to enable essential calibration measurements for the Earth observing satellites, and the validation of data retrieval algorithms.
  • Support New Sensor Development
    Provide sub-orbital flight opportunities to test and refine new instrument technologies/algorithms, and reduce risk prior to committing sensors for launch into space.
  • Conduct Process Studies
    Obtain high-resolution temporal and spatial measurements of complex local processes, which can be coupled to global satellite observations for a better understanding of the complete Earth system.
  • Develop the Next-Generation of Scientists and Engineers
    Foster the development of our future workforce with the hands-on involvement of graduate students, and young scientists/engineers in all aspects of ongoing Earth science investigations.

To meet these observing objectives ASP maintains and operates a suite of sustained, ongoing platforms and sensors on which investigators can rely from year to year.

NASA’s Airborne Data Management Group (ADMG)

The ADMG exists to support NASA’s airborne and field science communities, NASA’s discipline-specific data centers, and airborne and field data users by providing access to relevant resources, information, and data. ADMG is responsible for building an inventory of past and present NASA airborne and field campaigns called the Catalog of Archived Suborbital Earth Science Investigations (CASEI) to improve the discoverability of and access to airborne and field campaign data. ADMG is located within the Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) and operates under the direction of NASA's Earth Science Data Systems (ESDS) Program.

Catalog of Archived Suborbital Earth Science Investigations (CASEI)


CASEI is a comprehensive inventory that facilitates quick access to detailed information about NASA’s airborne and field investigations along with links to associated data products. NASA’s CASEI provides intensively curated information about the context, research motivation, funding, and details of non-satellite, sub-orbital instruments and platforms. Information about important events and geophysical concepts and observations are included—all in a single, intuitive, and highly interconnected web user interface.


ADMG Airborne and Field Data Inventory Definitions

The Airborne Data Management Group (ADMG) used formalized definitions for building CASEI. Consistent terminology is required for organization and clear communication of the variety of airborne and field investigation metadata. In this list you will find information about inventory term definitions such as mission, field investigation, deployment, intensive operation period, partner organization, platform, instrument package, data product, variable, geophysical concept, etc. and NASA airborne and field investigation types.

Standards and Practices

NASA's Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS) Standards Coordination Office (ESCO) coordinates standards policy and activities within ESDIS. ESCO follows a Standards Process for identification of appropriate standards and practices and their subsequent adoption for use in NASA Earth science data systems. Information about ESDIS Mission Requirements is also available.

Data User/Researcher Profiles


NASA acquires, archives, and distributes airborne and field campaign data that span the breadth of Earth science disciplines and cover even the most remote areas of the planet, providing measurements of Earth’s atmosphere, ocean, land, and cryosphere and assessments about how humans interact with the environment. The purpose of this section is to provide you with information about NASA’s core airborne and field data discovery, data access, data visualization, and manipulation tools. These tools are organized both by theme and by tool features and functionalities and include tutorials to help you get started using the tool when possible.

Find and Access

Earthdata Search


Earthdata Search is a data discovery and data access tool that allows for the discovery of more than 50,000 Earth Observation data collections from NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS), as well as U.S and international agencies across the Earth science disciplines. Multiple temporal and spatial filtering options are available including filters by science area (keyword), Earthdata cloud availability, platform, and instruments. Customization (subsetting, regridding, reformatting) is available for select data collections.

Webinar: Learn How to Discover, Access, and Customize Multiple Datasets Using Earthdata Search

Catalog of Archived Suborbital Earth Science Investigations (CASEI)


CASEI is a comprehensive inventory that facilitates quick access to detailed information about NASA’s airborne and field investigations along with links to associated data products. NASA’s CASEI provides intensively curated information about the context, research motivation, funding, and details of non-satellite, sub-orbital instruments and platforms. Information about important events and geophysical concepts and observations are included, along with links to relevant data products, all in a single, intuitive, and highly interconnected web user interface.

Webinar: Empowering Access to Airborne and Field Data with NASA's CASEI
CASEI Frequently Asked Questions

Visualize and View Data

Theme: Hazardous Weather and its Dynamical Physical Processes

Field Campaign Explorer


The Field Campaign eXplorer (FCX) is a cloud native web based 3D data visualization platform that can incorporate science data collected from instruments aboard aircraft, ground sensors, and satellites. The instrument data are displayed within an interactive map viewer along flight tracks. This advanced tool reduces the effort involved in discovering data, is designed for event-based research, allows for seamless movement between data visualization, discovery and acquisition, and enhances the user experience by improving the usability of heterogeneous data.

Webinar: Shifting the Paradigm: Discover, Access, and Process Data With Cloud-Based Services


Visualize and Analyze Data

Theme: Atmospheric Chemistry

ORNL DAAC Airborne Data Visualizer


The Airborne Data Visualizer (ADV) is a tool for the exploration of in-situ atmospheric gas concentrations (e.g., CO2, CO, CH4, and ozone) and other chemical and physical measurements and flight paths from three NASA airborne missions: the Atmospheric Carbon and Transport - America (ACT-America), the Atmospheric Tomography Mission (ATom), and the Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE).

User Guide: ORNL DAAC Airborne Data Visualizer

Theme: Terrestrial Hydrology, Biogeochemical, and Ecological Data

Soil Moisture Data Visualizer


Subset, view, and download harmonized soil moisture data from various projects available through NASA's ORNL DAAC including the Airborne Microwave Observatory of Subcanopy and Subsurface (AirMOSS), Soil moisture Sensing Controller and oPtimal Estimator (SoilSCAPE), Snow Telemetry Network (SNOTEL), and Flux Network (FLUXNET).

User Guide: Soil Moisture Visualizer

Spatial Data Access Tool (SDAT)


Visualize and download select data using Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards; available through NASA's ORNL DAAC including but not limited to NASA’s Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE), Africa Synthetic Aperture Radar (AfriSAR), Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE), Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA) and more.



Theme: Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Polar Processes, Geophysics, Sea Ice



Vertex provides a rich, intuitive interface for searching, ordering, and downloading SAR data and other thematic remotely sensed datasets. Multiple spatial and temporal filtering options are available including by shapefile, polygon, and more. Users can search SAR data by date and repeating seasonal periods, and many dataset-specific options are available such as product types, beam modes, polarizations, and more. Products can be downloaded directly, or in bulk quantities for large numbers of products.

VideoTutorial: Basic Geographic Search
Video Tutorial: Vertex Basic List Search
Video Tutorial: Vertex Search Results
User Guide
Webinar: Discover and Access SAR Data with ASF DAAC's Vertex: Better, Stronger, Faster



OpenScienceLab is an ecosystem of open-source tools for data analysis. At the heart of OpenScienceLab is OpenSARLab, which opens a door to the world of SAR processing in the cloud via a JupyterLab environment.

Webinar: Jump-Start SAR Data Analysis in the Cloud with ASF’s OpenSARLab

Theme: Snow, Sea Ice, Ice Sheets, Glaciers

Operation IceBridge Data Portal


The data portal provides direct access to Operation IceBridge datasets which measure glacier and ice sheet elevation, glacier and ice sheet topography, sea ice elevation, sea ice thickness, terrain elevation, bedrock topography, snow/ice temperature, radar imagery, visible imagery, meteorological observations, and calibration data.

Video Tutorials: Get Started with the IceBridge Data Portal

Theme: Radiation Budget, Clouds, Aerosols, and Tropospheric Composition

Sub-Orbital Order Tool (SOOT)


The Sub-Orbital Order Tool (SOOT) is designed to promote suborbital research and analysis for campaigns archived at NASA's Atmospheric Science Data Center (ASDC). SOOT aims to address the attributes specific to suborbital data, and the inaugural roll out of SOOT introduced the Power User Interface. SOOT’s Power User Interface, intended for experienced data users and science teams, enables data exploration via attributes such as platform or Principal Investigator. This interface enables experienced users to quickly navigate to the particular data files needed for their analysis The next rollout of SOOT will feature the on-demand merge tool, which allows users to generate data files from a common platform based on specific variables to a common sampling time base. More campaigns will continue to be added to SOOT in the future.

StoryMap: SOOT Power User Interface
Webinar: Powered Up Data—Getting to Know the Sub-Orbital Order Tool (SOOT) Power User Interface
Microarticle: Accessing Airborne and Field Campaign Data with the Sub-Orbital Order Tool


Data Learning Resources

Explore learning resources to help you navigate the sub-orbital datasets, data tools, and other data information to get started with NASA’s sub-orbital data holdings—whether you are a new or an experienced user of NASA’s airborne and field campaign datasets.

User Guides: Dataset and data tool reference guides provide information about the sub-orbital datasets to include data characteristics, applications and derivation, quality assessment, data acquisition and data methodology. Dataset documentation is provided with the dataset landing pages and additional data tool user guides are available for most tools.

Micro-articles: Micro-articles are concise and focused selections of information that allow users to quickly assess topics and locate the most useful or relevant associated data, information and tools.

GitHub Data Recipes/ Tutorials


Data Recipes and Jupyter Notebooks- step-by-step data discovery and data access tutorials, available for using discipline-specific and cross-discipline tools and applications, as well as programming languages within the Jupyter Notebook ecosystem.

GIS resources are also available. NASA's Earthdata GIS (EGIS) resources enable access to GIS-ready NASA Earth science data, services, and resources— providing a consistent user experience and enhancing resource discovery through platforms commonly used by the GIS community.

StoryMaps: interactive maps that allow us to tell a data story for specific events, or missions, through a rich, interactive, visual experience using geospatial data imagery layers, Web Maps, and more.

Data Citations and Acknowledgements

NASA promotes the full and open sharing of all data with the research and applications communities, private industry, academia, and the general public. NASA data are freely accessible; however, when you publish these data or works based on the data, we request that you cite the datasets within the text of the publication and include a reference to them in your reference list. This is important, because by citing your use of a dataset, you are supporting the reproducibility of your research and attributing credit to those who provided the data—including datasets that you have created yourself. Citing data is also important for measuring the impact of your work.

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)

NASA's Earthdata Developer Portal is for application developers who wish to build applications that search, access, and browse EOSDIS Earth science data. It is the central location for all publicly accessible developer documentation related to EOSDIS enterprise services and applications.


NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) is responsible for the storage and public distribution of NASA Earth science data. EOSDIS partners with NASA-funded data creators and providers to archive and serve their data to a global community of millions of users. EOSDIS offers this service through discipline-specific and common tools, at no cost to the data provider, with the added benefit of protecting data from disaster and technology obsolescence.

Submitting Data for EOSDIS Archival

Because each NASA-funded mission is unique, submitting data to EOSDIS will vary depending on the source of the data. It all starts with contacting usto initiate the process.



Airborne Data Management Group (ADMG): NASA's Airborne Data Management Group (ADMG) exists to support NASA's airborne and field science communities, NASA discipline-specific data centers, and airborne and field data users by providing access to relevant resources, information, and data.

Earthdata Forum: The Earthdata Forum provides a central, online location where data users can interact with subject matter experts from DAACs to discuss data applications and research needs, and get answers to specific questions about accessing, viewing, and manipulating NASA Earth observation data.

Earthdata Support: You can submit a ticket here that will be filtered and triaged to the appropriate discipline-specific DAAC or subject matter experts.


Acronym and Symbol List

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