Use NEON Infrastructure for Research

From left to right: An Airborne Observation Platform (AOP), a Mobile Deployment Platform (MDP), an example of sensor infrastructure, an example of a field sampling plot.

Are you interested in doing research at NEON field sites or using NEON infrastructure?

Specific parts of the NEON project infrastructure (referred to as Assignable Assets) are available upon request for Principal Investigator-driven research and environmental studies. Access is dependent on availability of resources. Scientists and educators interested in requesting Assignable Assets must submit a formal request that includes in detail the proposed use of these assets. Request instructions are downloadable from this page.

Types of Assignable Assets

Assignable Asset Description Status
Mobile Deployment Platform (MDP) A self-contained suite of sensors, power systems and data logging capabilities for capturing atmospheric, soil, and aquatic based measurements. Contact us for availability
Sensor Infrastructure (SI) Includes infrastructure to support physical instrument systems or arrays for collecting environmental data from automated sensor suites Available
Observational Sampling Infrastructure (OSI) Gives researchers access to NEON sampling locations or to biological samples at NEON sites before they are archived Available
Airborne Observation Platform (AOP) A suite of remote sensing instruments mounted into a twin otter airplane for collecting airborne data. Contact us for availability

All requests undergo a feasibility evaluation by NEON project staff and all costs associated with the Assignable Asset program will be borne by the requestor or the requestor’s sponsor.

Types of Requests

Standard Requests Associated with currently funded or proposed projects that can be planned well ahead of a proposed deployment.
Target of Opportunity Requests In response to an unplanned event and research opportunity such as might result from a natural or man-made disaster.

Request Evaluation Schedule

Standard requests may be submitted at any time. However, they will typically be evaluated on a quarterly basis with the following due dates: 

Request received by Evaluation and Response by
30 June 31 August
30 September 30 November
31 December 28 February
31 March 31 May

Ad hoc standard requests outside of this quarterly cycle may be considered, but should be submitted at least 2-3 months prior to the relevant research proposal deadline to ensure adequate time for a feasibility evaluation. 

Target of Opportunity requests are handled on an expedited basis in response to unexpected events.

Request Requirements

Requests should be limited to a maximum of 10 pages of text and should be focused on technical and logistical feasibility. Please note that requests should be focused on the detail necessary to reasonably evaluate the request, NOT scientific merit. Additional material such as detailed technical specifications can be submitted as attachments.  Links to web-based material are acceptable as well.

Investigators are encouraged to submit requests well in advance of agency proposal deadlines and to contact the NEON Project prior to an actual request submission to help ensure a timely and smooth evaluation process. We also encourage you to review the Assignable Asset User Guide before creating your request.

Assignable Assets User Guide

This user guide was published in May 2017 and explains the process for requesting and using NEON Assignable Assets. Please thoroughly review this guide before creating an Assignable Asset request.


Assignable Assets Data Use Policy

Battelle encourages investigators utilizing NEON assignable assets to make their research data freely and openly available as soon as possible and requires data sets so collected to be registered with the NEON data archive. 

Data access may be restricted for a period not exceeding two years from the end-of-use date for data collected by investigators using NEON assignable assets.  At the end of the restricted access period, all data will be freely and openly available.  The restricted period may be extended under exceptional circumstances, but only by agreement between the Principal Investigator and the NEON Program Manager.

Data that has already become public cannot be made proprietary under any circumstances. Data which has been published in whole or part becomes publicly available at the time of publication.

A note about field site access

Access to NEON field sites is governed by site host policies and permitting requirements. NEON staff may be able to assist with the site access process as needed. For more information, please contact us.

The MDP functions as a principal investigator (PI) requestable asset for periods of up to approximately one year. The MDP is a self-contained suite of sensors, power systems and data logging capabilities for capturing atmospheric, soil, and aquatic based measurements. Central to the concept of the MDP is the ability for rapid deployment to capture stochastic ecological events (e.g. fires, flood events, pest outbreaks) across the landscape. Five MDPs are available for deployments up to 1 year. Please contact us regarding availability.

At each of NEON’s core and relocatable field sites, there will be infrastructure to support physical instrument systems or arrays for collecting environmental data from automated sensors:

  • An instrument tower for meteorological and eddy flux measurements
  • An array of soil instruments near the tower 
  • Sensors placed along or in stream or river; or on a buoy in a lake and in the adjacent riparian areas
  • A small hut that serves various functions including housing instrumentation used for command and control of the sensor infrastructure; and housing of the gas measurement validation system.

Requests from the research or education community may be made through the Assignable Assets program to install additional sensors or instruments on any of these systems or structures.

Researchers may request access to sampling locations or biological samples at NEON sites before they are archived. As mentioned above, researcher access to and sampling on NEON observational plots must also be permitted by the landowner and be managed with extreme care so as to not compromise NEON measurements or samples. 

At the present time, destructive sampling, manipulative experiments or other disturbances, such as placement of infrastructure, within NEON sampling plots is not allowed. 

Nondestructive sampling may be permitted if it can be shown that it does not negatively impact the integrity of NEON observations.

Only requests for access to specific NEON sampling locations and samples will be considered under the assignable asset program. Requests to conduct research in areas not within or immediately adjacent to NEON sampling locations will follow the NEON site research coordination guidelines described in the downloadable pdf below.

NEON Site Research Coordination Guidelines

Read these guidelines if you are interested in learning more about how to coordinate research activities near NEON sampling locations. If you are interested in conducting research activities on or adjacent to NEON field sampling locations, please review the process for requesting assignable assets.


One AOP will be made available to support PI-requested deployments associated with AA requests (when it is not needed to support regular NEON flight operations). AOP instruments include a high-fidelity visible-to-shortwave infrared imaging spectrometer, a waveform LiDAR and a high-resolution digital camera. We are now accepting requests for Fall 2018 deployments and after.

Please contact the NEON Project if you have any questions or need additional information.

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