The pilots navigate the plane along the flight path as the sun begins to set for the day. Credit: Erica McNamee

A Nervous Flier’s Guide to Riding the Snowy Skies

I grew up flying in planes. I’m comfortable in them. But there’s one part of flying I’ve never gotten used to: turbulence. It’s common on comm...

Read More
Microphysics Probe Team

A Day in the Life on an IMPACTS Instrument Operator

Jen Moore shares her adventures as an IMPACTS instrument operator in this enjoyable short video clip.  Jen is a member of the Microphysics Probe Team...

View the video here
Chip Helms on deployment with IMPACTS

IMPACTS Participant Chip Helms Makes the News

Chip Helms makes news in the latest edition of the Greenbelt News Review.  See page 2 for news item.

Greenbelt News Review
NASA operates two Airborne Science ER-2 aircraft for a wide variety of environmental science, atmospheric sampling, and satellite data verification missions. (Carla Thomas/NASA).

How a Cold War spy plane went from watching the Soviets to...

Located just north of Atlanta, Georgia, Dobbins Air Reserve Base is usually home to C-130 transport planes. But for the next few weeks, the base will ...

Read More

IMPACTS Data User Workshop - 26-27 October 2022

We are currently planning our third IMPACTS Data User Workshop that will be held virtually on 26-27 October 2022 from 12:00-2:30 ET. These open data...

IMPACTS Data User Workshop - 26-27 October 2022
A group of Stony Brook students getting the weather balloons ready for a past storm on January 28, 2022. The instruments are tied to strings attached to the balloons, including a parachute and GPS system that provides the location of the balloon. Around 8 kilometers (5 miles), the communication drops off and contact is lost with the system. Photo Courtesy of Brian Colle.

Planning, Coordinating and Communicating: The Science Behind...

As the snowstorm headed through New York on February 24, one professor at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York spent the hours leading up t...

Read More


Winter snowstorms are frequent on the eastern seaboard and cause major disruptions to transportation, commerce, and public safety. Snowfall within these storms is frequently organized in banded structures that are poorly understood by scientists and poorly predicted by current numerical models. Since that last study on snowstorms, the capabilities of remote sensing technologies and numerical weather prediction models have advanced significantly, making now an ideal time to conduct a well-equipped study to identify key processes and improve remote sensing and forecasting of snowfall.

The Investigation of Microphysics and Precipitation for Atlantic Coast-Threatening Snowstorms (IMPACTS) will fly a complementary suite of remote sensing and in-situ instruments for three 6-week deployments on the ER-2 and P-3 aircraft. IMPACTS will address three specific objectives, providing observations critical to understanding the mechanisms of snowband formation, organization, and evolution. IMPACTS will also examine how the microphysical characteristics and likely growth mechanisms of snow particles vary across snowbands. IMPACTS will improve snowfall remote sensing interpretation and modeling to significantly advance predictive capabilities.


The IMPACTS airborne instrument suite provides a synergistic range of measurements for snow process studies. It combines advanced radar, lidar, and microwave radiometer remote sensing instruments on the ER-2 with state-of-the-art microphysics probes and dropsonde capabilities on the P-3 to sample US East Coast winter storms. By flying the two aircraft in an approximately vertically stacked coordinated pattern, with flight legs generally orthogonal to the snowband orientation, the instrument suite provides approximately collocated dynamical and microphysical measurements that advance our understanding of processes in winter storms.

IMPACTS collects data from a “satellite-simulating” ER-2 and in-situ measurements from a cloudpenetrating P-3, augmented by ground-based radar and rawinsonde data, multiple NASA and NOAA satellites [including GPM, GOES-16, and the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)], and computer simulations. The ER-2 and P-3 provide the flight-altitude and long-endurance capabilities and payload capacity needed for the combined remote sensing and in-situ measurements.

Take a look at our 2020 Field Catalog for information regarding our first Winter Campaign.