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Earth Science Division Highlights for July 2008

Governor Schwarzenegger visits Ames; Division Chief Hipskind briefs on fire support activities
California Governor Schwarzenegger visited Ames, July 14, to get a first hand look at the support NASA provided to the fire fighting effort using the Ikhana UAS in battling the widespread wildfires raging throughout the state. Steve Hipskind (Chief) briefed the Governor while he reviewed the firefighting data at the simulation facility that is used to display visible light and fire imagery. Additionally, he saw a demonstration of the Hyperwall-2, a high-resolution visualization system displaying images from the wildfires. After the quick tour, the Governor held a short news briefing. With him at the briefing was Center Director S. Pete Worden, Mike Freilich, Director, NASA Earth Sciences Division, Hipskind, Chief Del Walters, Assistant Region Fire Chief, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and Tom Maruyama, Deputy Director, Office of Emergency Services.

The flights by NASA's unmanned Ikhana aircraft used a sophisticated Autonomous Modular Scanner developed at Ames and satellite data from GSFC. The flights originated from DFRC at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

NASA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service have partnered to obtain imagery of the wildfires in response to requests from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, and the National Interagency Fire Center.

The visit represented an excellent opportunity to demonstrate both the effectiveness of interagency (and inter-center) partnerships in fighting these unprecedented fires, and the extraordinary utility of tools developed by NASA to help face challenges on Earth.


Mike Freilich visits NASA ARC Earth Science Division
Mike Freilich, Earth Science Division Director at NASA HQ, traveled to Ames to participate in the briefing to the Governor, July 16. While here, Freilich gave an informal all hands meeting to the Division to discuss the state of Earth Science within the Agency's Science and Mission Directorate and to answer questions from division personnel.


Lynn Rothschild speaks at Director's Colloquium
On July 8, Lynn Rothschild (SGE) presented a Director's Colloquium at NASA Ames, entitled, "Life in Extreme Environments: Sunburn, sex and life in the universe." Her talk discussed the possibility that extraterrestrial life may be based on organic carbon and can withstand certain environmental extremes such as temperature, pH and radiation. Organisms that can push these extremes, “extremophiles” (a term that was invented at Ames), provide insights into evolutionary biology on Earth, and provide a guide for locating life elsewhere. Of particular interest to Rothschild and her team is radiation damage, an environmental variable that can damage genetic material itself, and thus has been linked to the origin of sex. Thus, extremophiles will play a crucial role in transferring terrestrial life beyond Earth. (POC: Lynn Rothschild, Lynn.J.Rothschild@ , 4-6525)


Visiting Seminar Speakers at NASA Ames' Earth Science Division


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