Video: NASA's Flying Labs

NASA's DC-8 airborne science laboratory soars over the Sierra Nevadas and the Owens Valley near Lone Pine, Calif.

NASA's DC-8 airborne science laboratory soars over the Sierra Nevadas and the Owens Valley near Lone Pine, Calif. NASA

Taking science experiments to the skies.

When you think of a laboratory, large buildings or underground lairs with lots of beakers and equipment might come to mind.

But NASA has taken the standard laboratory and made it airborne. The agency's fleet of flying labs will jet off to locations around the globe to study a variety of things, including tropical storms and hurricanes, melting polar ice sheets in Antarctica, and how ecosystems respond to climate change.

One mission to study pollution closer to the ground will focus on Denver, Colorado. The area experiences unhealthy levels of ozone in the summer, so the goal is to better understand surface condition where people live and breathe so future satellites can better measure air quality.

Watch the video below to see more of these lofty labs: