NASA operates a highly modified Douglas DC-8 jetliner as a flying science laboratory. The aircraft, based at NASA's ... Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., is used to collect data for experiments in support of projects serving the world's scientific community. Federal, state, academic and foreign investigators are among those who use NASA’s DC-8.
Data gathered with the aircraft at flight altitude and by remote sensing have been used for studies in archaeology, ecology, geography, hydrology, meteorology, oceanography, volcanology, atmospheric chemistry, cryospheric science, soil science and biology.
Four types of missions are flown with the DC-8: sensor development, satellite sensor verification, space vehicle launch or re-entry telemetry data retrieval and optical tracking, and basic research studies of Earth's surface and atmosphere.
More information: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/FactSheets/FS-050-DFRC.html