Historic Data Recovery at Wallops Flight Facility

Making scientific information and research more openly available is an important part of IMPACT’s mission which the Airborne Data Management Group (ADMG) takes seriously. To support this effort and the NASA Airborne Science Program, IMPACT ADMG team members Shelby Bagwell and Ashlyn Shirey recently traveled to Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia to find and digitize details of NASA’s P-3 aircraft flights. Working with direction from NASA’s Dr. Melissa Yang Martin, Shelby and Ashlyn scoured four file cabinets of paper documents and shelves of binders to preserve the historical information from P-3 participation in early campaigns from the pre-digital years.

Shelby Bagwell and Ashlyn Shirey in front of NASA’s P-3 aircraft

The P-3 has been a crucial asset to the agency’s Earth science research efforts since it was acquired in the early 1990s. Since the beginning, the P-3 has flown in many Arctic and Antarctic campaigns outfitted with many instruments for collecting data for areas of study including meteorology, hydrology, oceanography, and cryospheric research. Moreover, the P-3 was also used to test new airborne and satellite instrumentation. For each of the campaign flights, there is a rich trove of documentation. Campaign and flight details from the 1990s and early 2000s are not digitally available, making it difficult for researchers to access the information. This effort by the ADMG ensures the information will be easier to discover in the future.

Over the course of their trip, Shelby and Ashlyn documented P-3 instrument payload, flight details such as location and duration, scientific objectives, and flight personnel. They also scanned important documents, such as floor plans of the P-3 for each flight or campaign, to ensure instrument placement and connection information is retained.

Scanned P-3 floor plan for Arctic Ice Measurement (AIM) 2003 campaign

Shelby explained that having a “road map” of the P-3 from its first NASA campaign flight to its current activities is incredibly valuable in showing the progression of NASA’s research and the variety of instruments flown. Their work helps preserve this historical documentation, particularly for campaigns prior to 2007, for which the majority of information is on paper.

This project appealed to Ashlyn in multiple ways. Asked about her experience, she responds:

Shelby agrees, saying:

Learn more about the P-3 here.

NASA Airborne Science Program P-3 homepage.

Learn about all ADMG efforts here.

Discover more about P-3 flights on CASEI.

More information about IMPACT can be found on the NASA Earthdata and IMPACT project website.




This is the unofficial blog of the Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team.

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IMPACT Unofficial

This is the unofficial blog of the Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team.