C-20B Gulfstream III
Associated content: 

Gulfstream III LaRC - N520NA "Smiling"

Gulfstream III - LaRC N520NA Side View

Gulfstream III - LaRC: Window Assemblies Installed

John Mielnik, QA Chief, Pressure Check

Rob White, Crew Chief, Engine Run and Pressure Check

Gulfstream III - LaRC

NASA Langley Gulfstream III (C-20B)

The NASA Langley Research Center received authorization from NASA Headquarters on September 18, 2017 to acquire three excess C-20B Gulfstream III aircraft from the U.S. Air Force. Two of these aircraft will be used as parts support for the Agency, and the third aircraft will be used for research. The research G-III (C-20B) aircraft, designated NASA 520, will replace the Dassault HU-25A Guardian aircraft (NASA 524) as soon as practical. The research aircraft arrived at NASA Langley on December 7, 2017.  NASA Langley has installed an engine hush kit and  two nadir portals in the fuselage. The hush kit enables the aircraft to be Stage III noise compliant, allowing the aircraft to deploy nationwide and worldwide without requiring engine noise waivers. The nadir portals allow the aircraft to install earth science sensors, as is currently possible with the Center’s two King Air aircraft and the HU-25A aircraft. The NASA Langley G-III aircraft will ready for research at NASA Langley in January 2020.

Current Status:
Open (Next Activity 03/13/23: S-MODE Spring 2023)
NASA Langley Research Center
Twin Turbofan Business-class Aircraft
8 hours (payload and weather dependent)
Useful Payload: 
2 610 lbs
Gross Take-off Weight: 
69 700 lbs
Onboard Operators: 
Max Altitude: 
Air Speed: 
459 knots
3 767 Nmi
NASA SMD User Fee per Hour: 
Point(s) of Contact: 

Bruce Fisher

Work: (757) 864-3862

Portable Remote Imaging Spectrometer

The coastal zone is home to a high fraction of humanity and increasingly affected by natural and human-induced events from tsunamis to toxic tidal blooms. Current satellite data provide a broad overview of these events but do not have the necessary spectral, spatial and temporal, resolution to characterize and understand these events.

To address this gap, a compact, lightweight, airborne Portable Remote Imaging SpectroMeter (PRISM) compatible with a wide range of piloted and Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platforms are curently being developed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Operating between the spectral range of 350 nm and 1050 nm, PRISM will offer high temporal resolution and below cloud flight altitudes to resolve spatial features as small as 30 cm. The sensor performance exceeds the state of the art in light throughput, spectral and spatial uniformity, and polarization insensitivity by factors of 2-10, while at the same time extending the spectral range into the ultraviolet. PRISM will also have a two-channel spot radiometer at short-wave infrared (SWIR) band (1240 nm and 1640 nm). It will be in co-alignment with the spectrometer in order to provide accurate atmospheric correction of the ocean color measurements.

The development of the PRISM instrument is supported by NASA Earth Science Division’s the Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry, Earth Science Technology, and Airborne Sciences programs within NASA’s Earth Science Division.

Instrument Type: 
Point(s) of Contact: 

Land, Vegetation and Ice Sensor

NASA’s Land, Vegetation and Ice Sensor (LVIS) is a wide-swath, high-altitude, full-waveform airborne laser altimeter and camera sensor suite designed to provide elevation and surface structure measurements over hundreds of thousands of square kilometers. LVIS is an efficient and cost-effective capability for mapping land, water, and ice surface topography, vegetation height and vertical structure, and surface dynamics. The LVIS Facility is comprised of two high-altitude scanning lidar systems plus cameras that have been integrated on numerous NASA, NSF, and commercial aircraft platforms providing a diverse and flexible capability to meet a broad range of science needs. The newest Facility lidar (LVIS-F) began operations in 2017 using a 4,000 Hz laser, and an earlier 1,000 Hz sensor built in 2010 has undergone various upgrades (LVIS-Classic). High-resolution, commercial off-the-shelf cameras are co-mounted with LVIS lidars providing geotagged image coverage across the LVIS swath. LVIS sensors have flown extensively for a wide range of science applications and have been installed on over a dozen different aircraft, most recently on NASA’s high-altitude Gulfstream-V jet based at Johnson Space Center

The LVIS lidars are full-waveform laser altimeters, meaning that the systems digitally record both the outgoing and reflected laser pulse shapes providing a true 3-dimensional record of the surface and centimeter-level range precision. Multiple science data products are available for each footprint, including the geolocated waveform vector, sub-canopy topography, canopy or structure height, surface complexity, and others. LVIS lidars map a ±6 degree wide data swath centered on nadir (e.g., at an operating altitude of 10 km, the data swath is 2 km wide). They are designed to fly at higher altitudes than what is typical for commercial lidars in order to map a wider swath with low incidence angles, avoid the need for terrain following, while operating at much higher speeds that maximize the range of the aircraft. Recent data campaigns include deployments to Antarctica, Greenland, Canada, Alaska, the conterminous US, Central America, French Guiana, and Gabon.

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Point(s) of Contact: 

Hyperspectral Thermal Emissions Spectrometer

The Hyperspectral Thermal Emissions Spectrometer (HyTES) instrument has 512 pixels across track with pixel sizes in the range of 5 to 50 m depending on aircraft flying height and 256 spectral channels between 7.5 and 12 µm. The HyTES design is built upon a Quantum Well Infrared Photodetector (QWIP) focal plane array (FPA) , a cryo-cooled Dyson Spectrometer and a high-efficiency, concave blazed grating, produced using E-beam lithography.

HyTES will be useful for a number of applications, including high-resolution surface temperature and emissivity measurements and volcano observations. HyTES measurements will also be used to help determine scientifically optimal band locations for the thermal infrared (TIR) instrument for the Decadal HyspIRI mission.

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Point(s) of Contact: 

Next-Generation Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer

The NASA Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) has been in operation since 1989 acquiring contiguous spectral measurements between 380 and 2510 nm for use by a range of terrestrial ecology science investigations related to: (1) pattern and spatial distribution of ecosystems and their components, (2) ecosystem function, physiology and seasonal activity, (3) biogeochemical cycles, (3) changes in disturbance activity, and (4) ecosystems and human health. While AVIRIS continue to make unique and significant science contributions, such as its deployment to the Gulf of Louisiana in May 2010 for the assessment of the amount of oil spilled by the offshore well, the need for a new sensor to share AVIRIS’ workload and to eventually replace AVIRIS is inevitable. Indeed, since the late summer of 2009 a new NASA Earth Science airborne sensor called the Next Generation Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRISng) is being developed by JPL through the funding support from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The technical and programmatic oversights of the AVIRISng development is provided by NASA’s Earth Science Technology Office (ESTO).

Similar to its predecessor, the AVIRIS-NG is being designed to be compatible with a broad array of possible aircraft platforms, such as NASA’s ER-2 jet, the Twin Otter turboprop, B200 King Air, and NASA’s Gulfstream III and V.

Instrument Type: 
ER-2 - AFRC, Twin Otter, Glufstream V - JSC, Gulfstream III - LaRC
Point(s) of Contact: 


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