National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Wallops Flight Facility

Code 610.W Sites

The Mission and Role

The Wallops Field Support Office (Code 610.W) supports the Earth science research activities of Code 600 scientists at the Wallops Flight Facility. The Office also conceives, builds, tests, and operates research sensors and instruments, both at Wallops and at remote sites.

Scientists in the Office use aircraft, balloons, and satellite platforms to participate in the full complement of Earth science research activities, including measurements, retrievals, data analysis, model simulations, and calibration/validation. Office personnel collaborate with other scientists and engineers at Goddard Space Flight Center, other NASA centers, and at universities and other government agencies, both nationally and internationally.


The Wallops Field Office supports a wide variety of projects within the Earth Science Division. These projects directly support the Division as well as several laboratories within the Division.

For more information, see the following organizational links:

Wallops Field Office Home.

Earth Science Division at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory

Ocean Ecology Laboratory

Hydrological Sciences Laboratory

Biospheric Sciences Laboratory

Wallops Field Office Projects

Airborne Oceanographic Lidar (AOL)

The NASA Airborne Oceanographic LIDAR (AOL) project is involved in several different ways of remotely measuring chlorophyll and other biological and chemical substances in the world’s oceans. The AOL uses sensors that are flown in aircraft to make these measurements. The AOL website has been retired.

Airborne Topographic Mapper (ATM)

The Airborne Topographic Mapper is a scanning laser altimeter which has been carried onboard the NASA P-3B aircraft and on a smaller NOAA Twin Otter. The ATM platform incorporates the laser altimeter, GPS data, and inertial navigation packages. ATM is a component of Operation IceBridge.


IceBridge, a six-year NASA mission, is the largest airborne survey of Earth’s polar ice ever flown. It will yield an unprecedented three-dimensional view of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves and sea ice. These flights will provide a yearly, multi-instrument look at the behavior of the rapidly changing features of the Greenland and Antarctic ice.

Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM)

The GPM mission is one of the next generation of satellite-based Earth science missions that will study global precipitation (rain, snow, ice). GPM Constellation is a joint mission with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and other international partners. Building upon the success of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), it will initiate the measurement of global precipitation, a key climate factor. Its science objectives are: to improve ongoing efforts to predict climate by providing near-global measurement of precipitation, its distribution, and physical processes; to improve the accuracy of weather and precipitation forecasts through more accurate measurement of rain rates and latent heating; and to provide more frequent and complete sampling of the Earth’s precipitation. GPM was launched February 27, 2014.

Hybridspectral Alternative for Remote Profiling of Optical Observations for NASA Satellites (HARPOONS)

The Hybridspectral Alternative for Remote Profiling of Optical Observations for NASA Satellites (HARPOONS, PI: Dr. Carlos Del Castillo,Ocean Ecology Laboratory, Code 616) project is a research effort to develop and test an innovative, relatively simple and inexpensive in-situ vicarious calibration system for the PACE ocean color mission. HARPOONS consists of an advanced optical profiler tethered to a Liquid Robotics, Inc. Wave Glider SV3, the world’s first hybrid wave and solar propelled unmanned ocean autonomous vehicle. The goal of HARPOONS is to meet or exceed all the vicarious calibration requirements set forth by the PACE Science Definition Team and the NNH14ZDA001N-OBB solicitation by combining various mature in situ optical instrument and autonomous ocean-going platform technologies developed by NASA and industry. The project’s aim is to be less expensive than current vicarious calibration systems, and much easier to deploy and maintain.  The resulting inexpensive and low manpower operational logistics opens the possibility of eventually deploying multiple HARPOONS systems around the globe offering a larger number of satellite to in situ observation match-ups over a larger range of view angles and aerosols conditions than those offered by current systems.

 Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS)

GLAS is a laser altimeter system designed to measure ice-sheet topography and associated temporal changes, as well as cloud and atmospheric properties. GLAS is the primary instrument on the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat).


The Ice, Cloud,and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) is the 2nd-generation of the laser altimeter ICESat mission (January 13, 2003 to August 14, 2010). ICESat-2 is scheduled for launch in 2017.

“Sensors With Wings”
Small UAVs are showing promise for high resolution, quick response measurements for Earth science research. Several experiments have been conducted within the branch to explore the potential utility of miniaturized sensors combined with small air vehicles for a variety of measurements and missions. (Website retired)

Upper Air Instrumentation Research Project

Providing and seeking refined, improved, more accurate atmospheric and meteorological measurement systems and data for both today and tomorrow’s US Global Change Research Program and Earth Science Enterprise Program needs.

The Rain-Sea Interaction Facility

The goal of the Rain-Sea Interaction Facility is to improve measurements of rain, wind and air-sea gas exchange over the oceans. Global measurement of these processes contributes to improved weather prediction and climate modeling.

 NASA’s Polarized (NPOL) S-Band Radar

The NASA Polarimetric Radar (NPOL), developed by a research team from Wallops Flight Facility, is fully a portable and self-contained S-band research radar. It has an ultra-modern flat panel hexagonal antenna 18 feet (5.5 meters) in diameter. The radar requires no special site preperation and can be set up on a generally flat area anywhere in the world. The system can operate continuously, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, measuring both rainfall rates and amounts. The polarimetric data can be used to deduce the physical characteristics of hydrometeors within the radar beam.

EAARL (transferred to USGS)

The EAARL (Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar) is an airborne lidar that provides unprecedented capabilities to survey coral reefs, nearshore benthic habitats, coastal vegetation, and sandy beaches. Note: clicking this link will take you to the EAARL USGS website.

The Ocean Topography Experiment (TOPEX)

The Ocean Topography Experiment (TOPEX/Poseidon) is an advanced satellite radar altimetry system which provides global sea level measurements with an unprecedented accuracy. The sea level data from TOPEX/Poseidon is used to determine global ocean circulation and to increase the knowledge of the interaction of the oceans and the atmosphere.

Air-Sea Interaction Research Facility (NASIRF)

The primary objectives of NASIRF is to test theoretical results and to collect empirical data for the development of remote sensing techniques, in support of microwave remote sensor development and algorithms for air-sea interaction studies.

GEOSAT Follow-On (GFO)

The Navy’s Geosat Follow-On (GFO) Mission is another in a series of altimetric satellites which include Seasat, Geosat, ERS-1, and TOPEX/POSEIDON (T/P). Data derived from these missions has and will lead to vast improvements in our knowledge of ocean circulation, ice sheet topography, and climate change.

Coastal Zone Research

Multi-discipline activity emphasizing coastal zone research.