Student Airborne Research Program

The Student Airborne Research Program (SARP) is an eight-week summer internship program for rising-senior undergraduates. With access to one or more NASA Airborne Science Program flying science laboratories, students acquire hands-on research experience in all aspects of a scientific campaign.

Participants will be awarded a stipend as well as funding to cover their travel. Housing and transportation will also be provided during the eight-week program.

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 assist in the operation of instruments onboard one of these 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 students presenting results of their research conclusions.

NASA SARP patch which include an aircraft flying over the US and collecting data. There is also a satellite in the distance. 4 figures are at the base of the image, indicating the lifecycle of the program - collection and use of field, airborne, and satellite data.
Student Airborne Research Program (SARP) Patch
Map of the US with locations of SARP students’ institutions. 460 SARP students are from 268 different schools in all 50 states as well as Puerto Rico.
Student Airborne Research Program 2009-2023 Cohorts

Preferred Applicant Qualifications

Applicants must have a strong academic background in mathematics, engineering, or any of the physical, chemical, or biological sciences and an interest in 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 US 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). Graduate students are not eligible for SARP. Students from academic institutions that have limited research opportunities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Applicants must be US citizens.

Selection Process

Applications for SARP are open from November to the end of January. Student selection process is based on the following criteria:

  • Evidence of interest in Earth system science research
  • Leadership qualities and ability to perform in teams
  • STEM background preferable
  • Academic achievement

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.


Applications are due around January 31 of each year.

For questions about the program, contact us at

2023 Programs