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Highlights Archive

Earth Science Division Highlights for week ending March 7, 2007


NASA's Wildfire Research and Applications Partnership (WRAP) turns to rap

A story last fall in the San Francisco Chronicle highlighted NASA's use of a pilotless drone for forest fire monitoring and mapping. This mission was part of a NASA/USFS program to test and evaluate the use of unmanned aerial systems for disaster assessment. A Chronicle reader took offense to the term “pilotless drones,” sending a voice message to the editor stating over and over that all drones are pilotless. The Chronicle posted this voice message on their new webcast. National Public Radio (NPR) picked up the webcast and broadcasted the story behind it. Subsequently, a listener to NPR turned the message into a rap song and posted it on YouTube. The rap song about the NASA WRAP mission and its "pilotless drone" has received over 30,000 hits on YouTube and has a five star rating! This may be a new venue for getting NASA's message to the public! (POC: Jim Brass, 4-5232,


Hanwant Singh chairs session at Gordon Research Conference

Hanwant Singh (SGG) chaired a session on the Biogenic Hydrocarbons and the Global Atmosphere during the Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on Biogenic Hydrocarbons and the Atmosphere held in Ventura, California, from February 25–March 2, 2007. The GRC provides an international forum for the presentation and discussion of frontier research in the biological, chemical, and physical sciences, and their related technologies. (POC: Hanwant Singh, 4-6769,


Anthony Strawa gives lecture on aerosols and climate

Anthony Strawa (SGG) gave a presentation entitled “Predicting Climate Change with a Hazy Crystal Ball: The Effects of Aerosols on Climate” at the Ames Environmental Services Division Environmental Lecture on March 1, 2007. In addition to discussing what aerosols are and how they affect climate, he outlined some strategies for controlling aerosols emissions and their effect on future climate conditions. (POC: Tony Strawa, 4-3437,


Presentation on UAS to the Earth Science Technology Office

The Earth Science Technology Office (ESTO) had their bi-monthly status meeting at Ames, March 1, and Matt Fladeland (SG), Vince Ambrosia (CSUMB), and Chad Frost (TI) briefed them on unmanned systems projects underway at Ames that will support future earth science missions. They presented an overview of the history of unmanned systems work that spanned from participation in ERAST through to present projects, a briefing on the Wildfire Research and Applications Project, including support during the Esperanza fire. Finally, they discussed the use of collaborative tools for earth science missions as demonstrated by the Collaborative Decision Environment that was developed jointly by Codes S and T. The group then toured hanger 211 to view the Sierra UAS and discuss the potential for UAS's to contribute to the development of small satellite mission payloads. (POC: Matt Fladeland, 4-3325, )


Liane Guild attends USCRTF meeting

Liane Guild (SGE) supported Paula Bontempi, HQ program manager of Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry, in representing NASA's membership in the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) in Washington D.C. February 27-March 2. The meeting was scheduled during the Governors' meeting in D.C. so that state and U.S. territory governors could attend as Task Force members to address local action strategies for protecting coral reefs, defining the threats to coral reef ecosystems, and determining the Task Force's agenda for International Year of the Reef in 2008. The meeting concluded with Task Force actions on endorsing resolutions involving conservation of coral reefs. Additionally, Guild provided the comments for NASA HQ's Science Mission Directorate's response that were requested by OMB regarding two bills regarding reauthorization of the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000.

The USCRTF was established by executive order in 1998 to protect and preserve coral reefs through coordinated planning and action among federal agencies, state and territorial governments, and non-governmental partners. (POC: Liane Guild, 4-3915, )


Naval Research Lab and NASA collaborate on new UAS

Rick Foch, a member of the Naval Research Lab (NRL) and the chief scientist for the Navy's Expendable Vehicles Program, visited ARC last week. He took time from his busy schedule to review progress on the SIERRA UAS. The SIERRA, a 300-lb. platform under development by NRL and NASA Ames, is designed to carry a 100-lb. payload for earth science research and applications. The UAS, originally designed by the NRL, was transferred to Ames last year for assembly, flight testing, and instrument integration. Currently, the SIERRA is supported by the SMD Suborbital Science Program to meet the needs of NASA's earth science investigators. Foch spent the afternoon reviewing the SIERRA program and briefing members of ARC on UAS activities at the NRL. Numerous cooperative opportunities were discussed during the visit. (POC: Jim Brass, 4-5232, )

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