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Highlights Archive
Earth Science Division Highlights for week ending February 1, 2008

SG Management participate in SmallSat briefing at NASA HQ.  Steve Hipskind (Chief, SG) and Ed Sheffner (Deputy Chief, SG) joined colleagues from Ames and GSFC personnel in briefing Michael Freilich and the Earth Science Division at HQ on SmallSat capabilities, January 18.  Hipskind gave an introduction to the presentation delivered by Pete Klupar (Code PK), and Al Weston and Butler Hine (Code D) with support from Jim Watzin of GSFC.

The briefing focused on two questions: the potential value of small sats to meet the science observations needs of NASA Earth science, and the experience and capability of Ames to build, launch, and operate small sats.  Attendees included Dr. Freilich, Steve Volz, Mike Luther, Bryant Cramer, Jack Kaye, Andy Chen and most of the Earth science program managers.  Initial skepticism on the part of the attendees, especially regarding the capabilities at Ames, was replaced by acceptance of the knowledge and experience now resident at Ames to undertake small sat projects.

At the conclusion of the briefing, Dr. Freilich asked Ames for an Earth Science User Manual for the Common Bus (similar to the one for space science missions.) He also asked whether Ames could support an AO.   Klupar and Weston agreed to provide the manual by March and responded positively to supporting an AO. (POC:  Ed Sheffner, 4-5899,

Recent publication.  Chris Potter (SGE) [first author] and Steve Klooster (CSUMB) are co-authors of a paper recently published in Climate Dynamics.*  The study provides a global analysis of six years of MODIS vegetation photosynthetically active radiation (FPAR) data within the context of large-scale climate variations.   It is the first of its kind in terms of processing the entire MODIS land data set at 4-km spatial resolution and mapping out the main linkages to El Niño-Southern Oscillation and local climate co-variates.  (POC: Chris Potter, 4-6164,

*Full citation:  Potter, C., S. Boriah, M. Steinbach, V. Kumar, and S. Klooster.  2008. Terrestrial vegetation dynamics and global climate controls.  Clim. Dyn., DOI 10.1007/s00382-007-0339-5.

SGE staff participates in USDA meetings.  Dave Bubenheim (SGE) and Lee Johnson (CSUMB) participated in planning meetings for the USDA’s "Area-Wide Demonstration of Ecologically-Based IPM of Annual Grasses in the Great Basin Ecosystem".  The goal of the regional project is to demonstrate methods for control of the invasive species, cheatgrass and medusahead.  Also discussed is developing assessment technology to monitor the effectiveness of these treatments at landscape and watershed scales.  The meetings were held Jan. 22-23 at the USDA Laboratory in Reno, NV, and at the University of Nevada Reno.  (POC: David Bubenheim, 4-3209,

SG personnel participate in CRESPO meeting.  Deputy Division Chief Ed Sheffner, Liane Guild and Steve Dunagan (SGE) traveled to Hawaii, Jan. 24-25, to discuss NASA’s participation in the Coral Reef Ecosystem Spectro-Photometric Observatory (CRESPO) small spacecraft mission.  They were joined by John Hines, Ames Chief Technologist of the Small Spacecraft Division, and Stevan Spremo, project manager of CheapSat, to discuss a collaboration with personnel from University of Hawaii's Space Flight Laboratory and Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology to develop an instrument payload for a small satellite.  Proposed launch date is early 2010 to observe the world’s coral reefs.  This global observation would provide the first ever mapping of living coral that will provide a baseline to study reef health and to monitor any responses to climate change.  (POC: Liane Guild, 4-3015,

SGE and NOAA staffs discuss monitoring Pacific islands’ natural resources. Liane Guild and Steve Dunagan (SGE) met with scientists from NOAA’s Coral Reef Ecosystem Division and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) Marine National Monument to discuss UAS activities in the Pacific.  NOAA has a UAS mission planned for March 2008 to image marine debris off of the NWHI Marine National Monument.  There is interest in a UAS demonstration with NASA’s small UAS program to image areas of protected species ranges and habitat in addition to marine debris.  (POC:  Liane Guild, 4-3915,

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