Oahu residents may have seen an unusual airplane taking off from Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe.

The aircraft is one of NASA’s ER-2 planes, essentially flying laboratories designed to collect scientific data at high altitudes.

NASA is flying the ER-2 over Hawaii from late January through February.

According to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (USGS), the data collected will be used in several NASA-funded, multi-year projects to study coral reefs and volcanic processes.

It will also help scientists calibrate, validate, and simulate remote-sensing data from future satellites that could eventually orbit the Earth. The hope is to one day use this information to study the world’s ecosystem and natural events.Click here for the ER-2’s schedule and flight data.