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Earth Science Division Highlights for September 2013

Upcoming Program Milestones
(From the week of September 9)

  • Rothschild continues extensive outreach activities. 

Dr. Lynn Rothschild will participate in a Wonderfest/Commonwealth Club/Bay Area Science Fair event at Ames (Building 943) with Prof. Richard Zare of Stanford on October 24. The title of the event is "A Chemist and a Biologist Confer on the Recipe for Life." This is the third time Rothschild has been invited to present in this venue, the first being 2001 with Prof. Jere Lipps of Berkeley, and the second with Fr. Dr. George Coyne, director of the Vatican Observatory.

Rothschild has also accepted invitations to speak at the iGEM Regionals (October 2013), The College of William and Mary (October 2013), Time for Everyone (November 2013), University of Texas Austin (November 2013), The University of Oregon (spring 2014), Sacramento for Darwin Day (Feb 2014) and the Northeast Algal Symposium spring 2015.
  • ARC Earth science drought assessment capabilities used by state of Colorado
Analyses obtained using the NASA CASA model Drought Assessment and Response On-line Toolkit (CASA-DART) developed and implemented by Dr. Chris Potter were featured in the State of Colorado's Drought Mitigation and Response Plan (Annex B) published by the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
  • First in a series of videos on ATTREX released
"What is ATTREX?" the first in a series of videos describing the ATTREX mission and its scientific results, has been released." The video includes interviews with the ATTREX PI and co-I (Eric Jensen and Lenny Pfister, ARC/SGG) and the program managers at HQ supporting the project – Hal Maring and Ken Jucks. The video can be seen on Facebook and YouTube:" and
  • Major NASA airborne missions continuing.
The HS3 and SEAC4RS airborne missions continued deployments in September." On September 11, DISCOVER-AQ and SEAC4RS had five planes in the air. SEAC4RS has met all the science requirements of the mission established before deployment and is nor collecting observations of additional science interest. Nevertheless, the SEAC4RS deployment is likely to end one week early. Both Global Hawk aircraft havew completed multiple missions for HS3. Major target within the last week was tropical storm Gabrielle.
  • ARC staff to see SIERRA wreckage next week
SIERRA team members and one member of the SIERRA mishap board will travel to Alaska on September 16 to view the wreckage of the SIERRA UAV, now in storage in Barrow, Alaska, and arrange for shipping back to Ames.
  • USGS managers visit Ames
Mark Sogge, the new director of the USGS western region (CA, NV and HI) and Jonathan Smith, USGS HQ, land cover science, will visit Ames the afternoon of September 11. The tour will include the high performance computing center, the Earth science division (especially the UAVs) and Space Shop. They are particularly interested in exploring more collaboration on science projects between Ames and the new Innovative Science Center at USGS Menlo Park.
  • EVI-2 proposal receives okay to proceed
A proposal from the Earth science division in response to the EVI-2 solicitation from NASA received approval to proceed from Dr. Worden and ARC proposal review panel on September 10. Dr. R. Bevilacqua (NRL), the proposal PI, presented the plan for a cubesat to obtain observations of the stratosphere in the polar regions.
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Upcoming Program Milestones
(From the week of September 3)

  • SIERRA UAV wreckage recovered near Cape Simpson Alaska.

NASA Ames received word on August 30 that wreckage of the SIERRA UAV, lost in the Beaufort Sea during a flight for the MIZOPEX mission on July 25, was discovered on a beach near Cape Simpson Alaska. A picture of the wreckage showed that the aircraft was missing most of its wings, the tail section, and one of two struts from the wings to the tail. The main part of the fuselage, including the rear mounted engine and the nose (with instruments) appeared to be intact. Matt Fladeland, Airborne Science Office at Ames, arranged for salvage of the wreckage at the earliest possible time to avoid potential loss or further damage. The remains of SIERRA now reside in a locked hanger in Barrow Alaska pending inspection by SIERRA engineers and mission managers and/or personnel from the board investigating the mishap, and arrangements to ship the wreckage to Ames.

  • Thompson Reuters story describes NASA/ARC use of UAVs for science purposes

A long article in the Thompson Reuters on-line news digest for 4 September ( described NASA's use of remotely piloted vehicles (UAVs – referred to as "drones" in the story) to collect data as part of scientific investigations. Several NASA airborne missions that use or are using UAVs were mentioned including the Marginal Ice Zone Observations and Processes Experiment (MIZOPEX), the Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) mission and the mission to sample volcanic plumes from the Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica. The article noted the advantages of using UAVs in environments and situations that precluded piloted aircraft, especially for missions looking at environmental processes and climate change.

  • The Alpha Jet Atmospheric Experiment (AJAX) completes 100th science flight.
The H211 Alpha Jet made its 100th data collection flight on Thursday, August 29th. The Rim Fire north and northast of Yosemite National Park was the mission target. The Alpha jet flew transects above, within and below the smoke plume collecting observations of carbon dioxide, methane and water vapor. A tail-mounted camera collected video of the mission. Analysis of the data is currently underway. The PI for AJAX is Dr. Laura Iraci (NASA-ARC). Dr. Emma Yates (San Jose State Foundation) is the data analysis lead.
  • Major NASA airborne missions continuing.
The HS3 and SEAC4RS airborne missions continued deployments in August. HS3 deployed both of NASA's Global Hawk UAVs to the Wallops Flight Facility for flights over the Atlantic and Caribbean to monitor the development of hurricanes. Through the last week of August the weather was not cooperating, but prospects for a major storm in the Caribbean looked better in early September. The SEAC4RS mission (Studies of Emissions and Atmospheric Composition, Clouds, and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys), deployed out of Ellington Air Force Base in Houston, was doing very well acquiring data from 5 NASA aircraft including the DC-8 and ER-2. SEAC4RS may conclude earlier than scheduled.
  • Don Sullivan to attend WGISS and OGC meetings
Don Sullivan (NASA/ARC/SGE) will travel to Frascati, Italy September 18-29 to attend working group meetings of the WGISS (Working Group on Information Systems and Services) architecture group (part of the Group on Earth Observations) and the OGC (Open GIS Consortium) technology committee. Don will represent NASA Headquarters at both meetings.
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Last Updated: Sept. 13, 2013

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