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The Student Airborne Research Program (SARP) is an eight-week summer internship program for rising senior undergraduate students to acquire hands-on research experience in all aspects of a scientific campaign using one or more NASA Airborne Science Program flying science laboratories (aircraft used for SARP have included the DC-8, P-3B, C-23, UC-12B, and ER-2).

The NASA Airborne Science Program maintains a fleet of aircraft used for studying Earth system processes, calibration/validation of space-borne observations, and prototyping instruments for possible satellite missions. SARP participants will assist in the operation of instruments onboard an aircraft to sample atmospheric gases, and/or to image land and water surfaces in multiple spectral bands.

Research areas include atmospheric chemistry, air quality, forest ecology, and ocean biology. Along with airborne data collection, students will participate in taking measurements at field sites. The program culminates with formal presentations of research results and conclusions

Applicant Background

Applicants must have a strong academic background in any of the physical, chemical, or biological sciences, mathematics or engineering and an interest in applying their background to the study of the Earth system. We especially encourage applications from students majoring in Earth, environmental or atmospheric sciences and related disciplines.

Applicants must be enrolled full-time at an accredited four-year U.S. college or university. Strong preference in admissions will be given to current juniors (students who will be rising seniors during the summer they participate in SARP), however we have occasionally accepted outstanding sophomores and seniors. Graduate students are not eligible for SARP. Students from underrepresented groups and from academic institutions with limited research opportunities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Applicants must be US citizens.

Selection Process

Applications for the Student Airborne Research Program are opened each fall. Student selection process are based on the following selection criteria:

  • Excellent Academic Performance (GPA at least 3.0/4.0).
  • Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) major
  • Evidence of interest in Earth system science and hands-on research
  • Leadership qualities and ability to perform in teams

24-32 students are chosen from the applicant pool each summer to participate in the program. Participants will be awarded a stipend ($5000) as well as funding to cover their travel to California. Housing and transportation will also be provided during the eight-week program.

Faculty / Mentors

Outstanding faculty, mentors and staff are drawn from several universities and NASA centers, as well as from NASA flight operations and engineering. Program faculty will present detailed information on their research. Faculty and mentors will then guide participants through instrument and flight preparations, data analysis, and interpretation.

Questions? Contact Us.

For questions about our program, contact SARP Project Manager, Dr. Emily Schaller at: [email protected]

SARP acknowledges software donations from:

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