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Highlights Archive
Earth Science Division Highlights for June 2008
  • SG recipients of NASA Honor Awards

    A number of SG staff were among the many recipients of the 2008 NASA Honor Awards and Presidential Rank Awards that were bestowed at a ceremony at NASA Ames, June 11.

    Marilyn Vasques (ESPO) received the Exceptional Achievement Medal for her expert management of the Tropical Composition, Cloud and Climate Coupling (TC4) mission conducted in 2007.

    TC4 and the Wildfire Research and Applications Partnership (WRAP) projects received Group Achievement Awards: the former "[F]or outstanding achievements in atmospheric science during the TC4 Mission in Costa Rica and Panama in 2007"; the latter "[F]or outstanding group achievement and public service integrating NASA technology into procedures for fighting wildfires in the western United States."  Marilyn Vasques accepted the award for TC4 and Vince Ambrosia (CSUMB) accepted for WRAP.

    Additionally, The WRAP Project received a NASA Group Achievement Award that was presented at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center by NASA Associate Administrator, Christopher Scolese on June 4.  The citation read: "For safe, successful execution of long-duration unpiloted aircraft missions, multiple wildfire infrared imagery collection, and real-time critical data delivery to on-scene fire commanders".

    Congratulations to everyone involved on these teams for the well-deserved recognition!

    WRAP Project receives award at AUVSI annual meeting

    The WRAP team received recognition at the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Meeting in San Diego, California, June 12, at the Annual Awards Luncheon.  Ikhana UAV project manager (and team member), Brent Cobleigh (NASA DFRC) received the AUVSI Operations Award in recognition of the Western States UAS Fire Missions.  The award represents the incredible collaboration and commitment made by all the WSFM partners: NASA, USDA Forest Service, NIFC, FAA, NOAA, and General Atomics. This prestigious award is one of only four various awards presented annually to the international community.

    Additionally, the paper "Operational Experience with Long Duration Wildfire Mapping UAS Missions over the Western United States" received an AUVSI Best Paper Award. The paper's lead author was Lieutenant Commander P. Hall and several WRAP project team members were co-authors.  Over 4000 members of AUVSI attended the conference and awards.  (POC: Vince Ambrosia, Vincent.G.Ambrosia@, 4-6565)

    SGG scientists participate in AGU Joint Assembly

    Several members of the Atmospheric Science Branch (SGG) participated in the recent American Geophysical Union (AGU) Joint Assembly held in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, May 27-30.  As noted in last month's highlights, Jens Redemann (BAER Inst.) delivered an invited presentation on A-train measurements of aerosols.  Eric Jensen (SGG) co-presided over the session, "The A-Train (and Field Experiments): Upper Troposphere and Stratosphere Aerosols, Clouds, and Composition II."  The list of posters, papers and presentation from other branch members includes:

    Jimmie Lopez (BAER Inst.), Laura Iraci (SGG), April Warnock, Hong Guan and Robert Esswein (BAER Inst.), Ali Omar, and Ming Luo: "Multi-Instrument Study of Effects of Boreal Forest Fires on the Global Upper Troposphere and Lower Stratosphere."

    Rennie Selkirk (BAER Inst.), M. Joan Alexander, Lenny Pfister (SGG), Holger Vömel, and J. Valverde: "Convectively-forced Wave Motions in the Tropical Tropopause Layer Deduced From Balloonsonde and HIRDLS Observations."

    Lenny Pfister, Matthew McGill, Jonathan Hair, Eric Jensen, and Rennie Selkirk:  "Convective History of Thin Cirrus Clouds Observed During TC4."

    Eric Jensen, Daniel Murphy, and Lenny Pfister:  "Ice Concentrations and Extinctions in Tropical Tropopause Layer Thin Cirrus AU."

    Jens Redemann, John Livingston (SRI), Q. Zhang, Phil Russell (SGG), and Theodore Anderson:  "A-Train Measurements of Aerosol Fine Mode Fraction: Assessment of Past Performance and Future Possibilities"

    Bob Chatfield (SGG), Mark Schoeberl, Ivanka Stajner, Kris Wargan, Samuel Oltmans, and Anne Thompson. "Evaluation of Lower Tropospheric Ozone Estimates Based on OMI and MLS for Pollution Studies and a California Example."

    V. H. Beita, Holger Vömel, J. Valverde, Rennie Selkirk, J. Herrera, C. K. Solano, D. Gonzáles, and Simon Carn.  "Evidence for SO2 in the plume of Volcan Turrialba from ozonesonde measurements."

    Eric Jensen elected AGU Atmospheric Sciences Section Secretary; attends ACE Science Team meeting

    Eric Jensen (SGG) was elected to the position of American Geophysical Union (AGU) Atmospheric Sciences Section Secretary early in the year.  He attended a planning meeting for the AGU 2008 Fall Meeting at AGU Headquarters in Washington, D.C.  He is overseeing the planning of over 60 technical sessions.

    At the invitation of Hal Maring, NASA Radiation Sciences Program Manager, Jensen attended the NASA Aerosols, Clouds, and the Environment (ACE) Science Team Meeting at GSFC.  ACE is a mission to be launched in 2020.  (POC: Warren Gore,, 4-5533)

    ARCTAS Summer Deployment

    Summer Deployment of the Arctic Research of the Composition of the Troposphere from Aircraft and Satellites (ARCTAS) mission started with collaboration with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), June 18-25.  In preparation, the NASA P-3 traveled from Wallops Flight Facility and arrived at Moffett Field, June 18, for instrument integration, test flight, and participation in the CARB mission.  Phil Russell (SGG), the P-3 Platform Scientist, worked with CARB to make coordinated flights looking at California air quality before the P3 headed up to Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada.  Hanwant Singh (SGG) is the overall ARCTAS Project Scientist.  At NASA Dryden, Singh directed the DC-8 while it made CARB flights over the state. Both aircraft departed for Canada, June 26, where they will be based until July 14.  Kent Shiffer (ESPO), ARCTAS Project Manager, oversaw the uploading of P-3 instruments by the Wallops flight crew and maintenance team.  Jens Redemann (BAER Inst.), Tony Strawa and Jim Podolske (SGG) are instrument PIs for the P-3; Warren Gore (Chief, SGG) is the lead engineer for the SSFR instrument.  The division has over 20 people covering the full spectrum of mission roles from lead scientist, project management, instrument PI's, co-I's, engineers, postdocs and technicians.  The missions received media attention, as well.  KGO Channel 7 TV news was at Ames, June 20, to interview SG folks (Russell, Margaret Williams, and Anthony Bucholtz) about the upcoming CARB mission. The short segment appeared on the June 23 evening news.  Both video and transcript are on the following web site:

    ARCTAS is part of NASA's contribution to the International Polar Year (IPY) and is focused on air quality and pollution transport in the Arctic.  They completed a successful deployment this spring based in Fairbanks and Barrow, Alaska.  This summer they will be in the heart of northern Canada studying Boreal forest fires.  ARCTAS will include the P-3, NASA DC-8, the Langley B200 and the Penn State "NATIVE" ground instrumentation trailer.  (POC: Steve Hipskind,

    P3 at NASA Ames.

  • SIERRA UAS support activities for Yap ION Demonstration Mission

    The SIEERA project office completed a full site survey in the Federated State of Yap, Micronesia in preparation for the Island Observation Network (ION) Demonstration Mission.  Representatives from flight operations, logistics and Air National Guard met with the Yap governor, resource managers, and chiefs to discuss operations and requirements for the October 2008 deployment.  Research sites were selected, staging area identified and arrangements made for support services.  Yap officials restated their authorization to work with the SIERRA in Yap airspace and all airfield and communications officials were briefed and detailed operational plans developed.

    A tour of the islands validated the research goals and the ability to access the sites with the proposed instrumentation package.  There are no open operational issues to be resolved.  Open is final date determination with the Air National Guard who have committed to providing logistical support to and from the Yap for the project.  (POC: Randy Berthold,, 4-3408)

    SG staff members participate in greenhouse gas measurement meetings

    Deputy Division Chief Ed Sheffner and other SG personnel traveled to Pasadena, June 24-27, to attend the 5th annual meeting of the International Working Group on Greenhouse Gas Measurements from Space and the science team meeting for the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) mission.  OCO is sponsored by NASA's Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) Program. The OCO mission will collect global measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2), an important greenhouse gas in the Earth_s atmosphere. Sheffner gave a presentation to the working group on NASA/ARC capabilities related to acquisition of CO2 observations from airborne platforms and the application of CO2 observations in ecosystem modeling.  He focused on potential in situ CO2 observations on the SIERRA UAS and the Alpha Jet for calibration and validation of OCO data and data products. Bob Chatfield (SGG) provided an update to the working group on TIMS enhancements for CO2 measurements.  Max Lowenstein (SGG) presented more information on the Alpha Jet and potential CO2 instruments on that platform to the OCO science team, and Matt Fladeland (SG/APO) presented a poster on the SIERRA UAS as a possible sensor platform.  While attending both meetings, ARC staff discussed contributions from Ames to CO2 observations with the meeting attendees including Bill Emanuel from NASA HQ.  Further work in support of the OCO mission is expected.  (POC: Ed Sheffner, 4-5899,

    Dave Bubenheim attends International Space Biology Conference

    Dave Bubenheim (SGE) traveled to Angers, France, to attend the International Space Biology Conference, "Life in Space for Life On Earth," held June 23-27. The conference was a joint meeting of the European Space Agency (ESA), the International Society for Gravitational Physiology (ISGP), the American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology (ASGSB), and the European Low Gravity Research Association (ELGRA).  The conference invited international biological scientists to present investigative results in gravitational physiology and space biology.  Bubenheim gave a presentation on the development of a new bioassay that was developed in his lab for use in future space flight experiments.  (POC: Dave Bubenheim,, 4-3209)

    Lynn Rothschild interviewed on extraterrestrial life forms

    Lynn Rothschild (SGE) was filmed in Moss Beach, California, by a team from the History Channel's "The Universe" program where she discussed the possibility for extraterrestrial life forms.  In June, NPR affiliate, KQED, re-ran segments that they had recorded previously in her lab for the series "Pulse of the Planet."  (POC: Lynn Rothschild,, 4-6525)

    Addendum to May highlights:

    Media coverage of Earthquake Early Warning Systems

    Friedemann Freund (SJSU/SETI) gave a talk to the Disaster Mitigation group at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., May 14.   His talk, "Earthquake Early Warning:  Progress at the Scientific Front," led to an interview with the Wall Street Journal ("After Quake, Attention Grows on Early-Warning Systems," by Louise Radnofsky, May 20, pg. A16,  The WSJ article led to an interview with BBC, which in turn triggered several interviews with SF Bay Area TV outlets (Channel 2, Channel 5, Channel 7).  While in Washington, Freund attended a 3-day workshop, on Deep Carbon Cycle, that was held May 15-18, at the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory. The Sloan Foundation sponsored the workshop.  (POC: Friedemann Freund,, 4-5183)


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