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University student participates in NASA Airborne study

September 1, 2009

Coastal Carolina University student Christina Song McCluskey of Fort Mill recently participated in a six-week NASA-sponsored Airborne Science field experience designed to immerse students in NASA's Earth Science research through the use of ground measurements, aircraft and satellite-data collection.

McCluskey, a junior, is working toward a bachelor's degree in chemistry. Her summer activities included participation in NASA's Student Airborne Research program from July 6 to Aug. 14. She was an Eco Rep last year, which is part of the University's sustainability initiative in which students are involved in recycling and other green projects throughout campus.

Using the DC-8 flying laboratory based at NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., McCluskey, along with the 28 other undergraduate and graduate students, received a rare behind-the scene look at instrument integration, flight planning and payload testing that is the basis of every successful Earth Science airborne campaign carried out by NASA. These airborne research campaigns play a pivotal role in the calibration and validation of NASA's space-borne Earth observations, remote sensing measurements and high-resolution imagery for Earth system science.

The student program is one of NASA's tools for training future scientists for Earth Science missions that can assist in the development and testing of new instruments and future satellite mission concepts. The program's goal is to stimulate interest in NASA's Earth Science research and aid in recruitment of the next generation of engineers and scientists. Through this and the agency's other college and university programs, NASA is developing critical skills and capabilities needed for the agency's engineering, scientific and technical missions.