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.

In addition to providing open access data and samples, NEON also serves as an infrastructure for Principal Investigator-driven research and environmental studies. Access to NEON infrastructure is dependent on availability of resources.

To use NEON infrastructure, researchers must submit a formal request to the NEON Assignable Assets program using the request forms provided on this page. The details you provide in your request will be used to conduct a feasibility review and develop a cost estimate for your proposed project. Requesters are responsible for funding all their costs associated with using NEON infrastructure. Please allow at least 4 weeks for us to work with you to review your request and then provide a Letter of Collaboration (if needed) and project budget for your proposed use of NEON infrastructure. If you are interested in a Letter of Collaboration/Support seperate from an Assignable Asset request, you can find details here

Access to NEON Infrastructure includes:

  • Mobile Deployment Platforms (MDPs): These self-contained mobile sensor arrays can be set up to collect meteorological, soil and surface water data for short- to medium-term monitoring projects. MDPs are designed for rapid deployment to be able to capture stochastic ecological events (e.g. fires, flood events, pest outbreaks) across the landscape. Learn more
  • Airborne Observation Platform (AOP) Surveys: AOPs are light aircrafts outfitted with a high-fidelity hyperspectral imaging spectrometer, discrete and waveform LiDAR, and a high-resolution digital camera to collect remote sensing data. Researchers can request to fly non-NEON sites or to fly NEON sites at times of year when NEON does not collect AOP data.  Learn more
  • Access to Sensor Infrastructure (SI) at Field Sites: Investigators may request to add sensors to existing NEON field site infrastructure to collect their own data. Terrestrial field site infrastructure includes meteorological/flux towers and soil arrays. Aquatic site infrastructure includes in-situ aquatic sensor stations, groundwater wells, and meteorological stations in the riparian area of the site.
  • Access to Observational Sampling Infrastructure (OSI) at Field sites: Researchers may request access to sampling locations or field technician support for PI-led projects at NEON sites, and access to biological samples collected at field sites before they are archived in the NEON Biorepository.

Please note that PI-implemented research in areas not within or immediately adjacent to NEON sampling locations must follow the NEON Site Research Coordination Guidelines.

Get Started with Your Assignable Assets Request

Investigators are encouraged to submit requests well in advance of agency proposal deadlines, allowing at least 4 weeks for NEON to review your request and provide a cost estimate. We also encourage you to review the Assignable Asset User Guide before creating your request.

Requests should be limited to a maximum of 10 pages of text and should be focused on technical and logistical feasibility, not scientific merit. Additional materials, such as detailed technical specifications, can be submitted as attachments. Links to web-based material are acceptable as well.

Planning Your Request

While NEON provides the infrastructure and staff needed to perform a request, the requester is responsible for providing funding to cover all costs associated with each request. Once a request is submitted, NEON conducts a feasibility evaluation and develops a cost estimate for the plan. Research teams often secure funding to use NEON through grant programs administered by the National Science Foundation and other agencies.

In order to provide a quick and efficient review, we require that a completed request form accompany any inquiries to use NEON Infrastructure. NEON cannot provide Letters of Collaboration for using NEON Infrastructure without completing a full feasibility review and developing a cost estimate.

Again, please submit requests to the Assignable Asset Program at least four weeks prior to any funding deadlines. Complex projects may take additional time.  

If funding is already secured for the Assignable Asset request, please submit your request at least three months prior to your proposed start of data collection to allow for review, pricing, and contracts to be signed.  No field work on an Assignable Asset request can start until a contract is in place between Battelle (NEON program) and the PI's institution. Target of opportunity requests (e.g. responses to disturbance events, etc) should be submitted as soon as possible and every effort will be made to process these requests quickly.

Accessing NEON Field Sites

Access to NEON field sites is governed by site host policies and permitting requirements. PIs are responsible for securing permits for Assignable Assets data collection that is beyond the scope of existing NEON activities. Find out more about doing research at NEON sites

NEON Assignable Asset Data Policy

Investigators utilizing NEON assignable assets are encouraged 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.

Request Forms

If your proposal covers multiple Assignable Asset subsystems (e.g., adding an instrument a tower (SI) and requesting that NEON field ecologists collect leaf litter samples (OSI)), please complete the forms associated with each system and submit all documentation together.  We encourage you to review the Assignable Asset User Guide before completing the request form.

Mobile Deployment Platform (MDP) Request Form

Please use this form for all MDP Assignable Asset requests.


Airborne Observation Platform (AOP) Request Form

Please use this form for all Assignable Asset requests to use a NEON AOP for an airborne remote sensing survey.


Sensor Infrastructure (SI) Request Form

Please use this form for all access to Sensor Infrastructure Assignable Asset requests.


Observational Sampling Infrastructure (OSI) Request Form

Please use this form for all access to Observational Sampling Infrastructure Assignable Asset requests. 


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

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