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. Requesters must submit a formal request that includes in detail the proposed use of NEON infrastructure. Request instructions are downloadable from this page.

Access to NEON Infrastructure includes:

  • Mobile Deployment Platforms (MDPs): Mobile sensor arrays that can be set up quickly to collect meteorological, soil and surface water data for short- to medium-term monitoring projects. The MDP is a self-contained suite of sensors, power systems and data logging capabilities for capturing atmospheric, soil, and surface water 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. Learn more about our MDP capabilities
  • Airborne Observation Platform (AOP) surveys: An array of instruments installed into a light aircraft to collect remote sensing data. Requests include those to fly non-NEON sites or to fly NEON sites at times of year when NEON does not collect AOP data. AOP instruments include a high-fidelity hyperspectral imaging spectrometer, discete and waveform LiDAR, and a high-resolution digital camera. Learn more about AOP flight capabilities.
  • Access to NEON Sensor Infrastructure (SI): Investigators interested in adding sensors to existing NEON field site infrastructure to collect their own data.  At each of NEON’s 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.
  • Access to NEON Observational Sampling Infrastructure (OSI): Researchers may request access to sampling locations or biological samples at NEON sites before they are archived. 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 OSI assignable asset program.

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

How It Works

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.

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.


Types of Requests

Standard Requests: These requests can be planned well ahead of a proposed deployment. They 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: In response to an unplanned event and research opportunity such as might result from a natural or man-made disaster. These requests are handled on an expedited basis in response to unexpected events.

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

Accessing NEON Field Sites

Access to NEON field sites is governed by site host policies and permitting requirements. Find out more about doing research at NEON sites

Request Forms and Requirements

Investigators are encouraged to submit requests well in advance of agency proposal deadlines. 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. Please note that requests should be focused on the technical and logistical details necessary to reasonably evaluate the request, not scientific merit. Additional materials, such as detailed technical specifications, can be submitted as attachments. Links to web-based material are acceptable as well.

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.  

Instructions for Mobile Deployment Platform (MDP) Requests

Please use this form for all MDP Asssignable Asset requests.


Instructions for Airborne Observation Platform (AOP) Requests

Please use this form for all NEON Airborne Observation Platform Assignable Asset requests.


Instructions for Sensor Infrastructure (SI) Requests

Please use this form for all access to Instrument Systems Asssignable Asset requests.


Instructions for Observational Sampling Infrastructure (OSI) Requests

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



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

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