The NASA ER-2 is a high-altitude, moderate-speed aircraft. With a maximum performance altitude of 70,000 feet and a nominal performance altitude of 65,000 feet, the NASA ER-2 travels outside 95 percent of the Earth's atmosphere at approximately 410 knots with a range of 3,000 nautical miles.
The NASA ER-2 aircraft are operated by the High Altitude Missions Branch at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.
As part of NASA's Airborne Science and Applications Program, the NASA ER-2 aircraft are used to acquire data for Earth science research (e.g., agriculture, forestry, hydrology, geology, photogrammetry, oceanography, meteorology). These aircraft serve as platforms for a variety of sensors that collect data in support of NASA-sponsored scientific projects as well as projects involving other federal, State, university, and commercial investigators. Data from prototype and operational sensors flown aboard NASA ER-2 aircraft are used in applications, including the study of ozone depletion, agricultural biospheres, wildlife habitats, and forest wildfires. The NASA ER-2 aircraft are part of a fleet of airborne platforms that provide support to the Earth Science Enterprise initiative.