Ben Preusser took measurements during the NASA Student Airborne Research Program.

Ben Preusser took measurements during the NASA Student Airborne Research Program.

Physics and Math major Ben Preusser landed a spot in the NASA Student Airborne Research Program (SARP) eight-week summer immersion in California. He was notified of the opportunity and recommended by Saint Mary’s physics faculty. SARP provides students with hands-on research experience in all aspects of a major scientific campaign, from detailed planning on how to achieve mission objectives to formal presentation of results and conclusions to peers and even NASA officials.

The 32 students were broken into multidisciplinary teams that studied surface, atmospheric, and oceanographic processes. Preusser’s group looked at land imagery. In Palmdale, Calif., they took measurements at field sites and flew onboard the NASA DC-8 laboratory, from which they sampled, collected, and measured gases at different altitudes. For the next six weeks, teams worked at the University of California, Irvine to analyze the data and present individual research projects from the data collected.