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Highlights Archive

Earth Science Division Highlights for week ending October 24, 2007

SIERRA UAS first flight.  The NASA/NRL SIERRA UAS project achieved a major milestone, Oct 18, with the first radio-controlled flight of this new earth science research aircraft, conducted at Schoonover Field (Fort Hunter-Liggett, CA).  Four flights, piloted by Lesli Montforton (NRL) and Mark Sumich (NASA Ames), were completed over two days.  Total flight time was approximately 1 hour, and included seven touch-and-go's in addition to each take off and landing.  All systems functioned nominally: the pilots reported that the aircraft handled well and was stable in flight especially under moderate crosswind conditions, through which Montforton piloted the craft to a perfect landing.  L3 Vertex Aerospace was responsible for assembling, wiring, and engineering support for SIERRA 2.  The next phase of flight tests will incorporate an autopilot system and explore the operational envelope of the aircraft.  Following these flights, a camera will be flown to characterize the utility of the aircraft for remote sensing missions.  (POC: Matt Fladeland,, 4-3325)

Airborne Science Program JOINT Airborne Science Sensor Integration Working Group meeting at ARC.  On October 18th, Ames’ Earth Science Division hosted the first working group meeting of a multi-center team to improve integration standards and portability of airborne science instruments.  Representatives from seven NASA centers discussed center requirements for instrument integration review and certification, various options for obtaining and distributing engineering data, and comparing aircraft design constraints across multiple platforms to improve instrument portability.  The working group expects to complete the initial phase of this work and issue technical findings by the end of FY08. (POC: Mike Gaunce,, 4-1266)

Jay Skiles serves as invited judge for Siemens-Westinghouse Science and Technology Competition.  Dr. Jay Skiles (SGE) was an invited judge for the ninth annual Siemens-Westinghouse Science and Technology Competition held at the Education Testing Service (ETS) campus in Princeton, New Jersey, Oct. 11-16.  High school juniors and seniors from around the country submitted papers detailing their research in such areas as mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science, and biology.  This year’s competition received 1089 papers, a record for submissions.  More than 800 were in biology, including sub-disciplines such as genetics, microbiology, ecology, and botany.  Skiles and thirteen other biologists read and judged the biology papers, rating them according to originality, merit, comprehensiveness, and clarity of presentation.

Two judges initially read each submission to determine if further consideration should be given to the paper.  Those papers that survived this first cut were re-read and judged against a more rigorous set of criteria that included scientific importance, contribution to biology (or a sub-discipline of biology), and contribution of mentors.  A third stage of the judging consisted of combining all of the finalists across all the disciplines and then dividing the submissions into six geographic regions within the US.

A regional competition will be held in the first or second week in November with regional winners receiving $25,000 scholarships for their college education.  Regional winners will compete in New York City in December with the national winners (individual and team) each receiving $100,000 collage scholarships.  This was the seventh time Skiles has served as an invited judge for the Siemens-Westinghouse competition.  (POC: J. Skiles, 4-3614,

Robert Chatfield gives presentation on regional smog ozone at GSFC.  Bob Chatfield (SGG) made a presentation at NASA Goddard’s Branch 613.3, Oct 18, on the subject  "Regional Smog Ozone and Its Production Can Be Made Broadly and Inexpensively Visible! 3.57-micron Column Measurements and More".  (POC: Bob Chatfield,, 4-5490)

DEVELOP Mentor and student present results at workshop.  Cindy Schmidt (SJSU) attended a workshop entitled, “Data Integration and Visualization in the Pacific” that was organized by NOAA's Integrated Data and Environmental Applications (IDEA) Center held at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, Oct. 17-18.  Schmidt and Frank Garcia, a recent graduate of U.C. Santa Barbara and an 2007 Ames DEVELOP student, presented results from a project that the DEVELOP students worked on this past summer.  The products resulting from the student project will become integrated into NOAA's Pacific Region Integrated Climatology Information Projects (PRICIP) web portal.  (POC: Cindy Schmidt,, 4-0021)


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