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2019 Annual Report

The Science Directorate at NASA’s Langley Research Center

ABOUT US

Who We Are.

From the air we breathe to upper atmospheres with commercial aircraft and stationary satellites, to less familiar planetary atmospheres explored by landing spacecraft, the Science Directorate at NASA’s Langley Research Center is on it.

NASA Langley provides essential science leadership to NASA with decades of intellectual expertise in the areas of Atmospheric Composition, Air Quality, Earth’s Energy Budget and Lidar Remote Sensing that supports aeronautics, space technology, exploration and Earth science.

Our data can be used to help others to respond in responsible ways.

What We Do.

The Science Directorate at NASA’s Langley Research Center studies atmospheres using passive and lidar remote sensing, in situ and airborne instruments. Our Flight Projects execute visions to obtain ground-breaking science through spaceflight platforms.​

We are committed to delivering science that is balanced between Research & Analysis, technology development, airborne science and flight development. Through our ground and flight hardware development, we infuse technology and gather science observations that produce knowledge, information and insight that informs policy and serves society.

We provide and maintain capabilities to ensure effective and affordable delivery of that knowledge.

SD Organizational Chart
Satellite Timeline

EARTH SCIENCE

Our Earth Science research stretches across four main areas: Air Quality, Radiation and Climate, Atmospheric Composition and Active Remote Sensing. In these areas, we are involved in a number of scientific initiatives, including advanced instrument development, field and space-borne experiments and data retrieval, analysis and archival. We also take significant pride in our ability to receive and share scientific data through the Atmospheric Science Data Center (ASDC). We further extend our research to the public through our efforts in Science Education.
Radiation and Climate
Understanding what’s changing our climate – and the implications for our planet.​
Air Quality
We observe pollutants around the world and provide scientific data used study the impact on human health and agriculture.
Atmospheric Composition
We study the variations in and processes that affect aerosols, clouds, and trace gases, which influence climate, weather, and air quality.
Lidar Remote Sensing
We utilize Lidar technology on satellites and aircraft to learn more about our atmosphere, what’s in it, and how it’s changing.
+ View the Lidar Timeline

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE DATA CENTER

Data products from satellite measurements, field experiments, and modeled data products to create meaningful knowledge that inspires action by scientists, educators, decision makers and the public.
ASDC Metrics Graphic
ASDC Mission Hosting graphic

APPLIED SCIENCES

Innovative and practical uses of Earth Observations to inform wise decision-making and help people prepare for the future.
DEVELOP
DEVELOP, part of NASA’s Applied Sciences Program, addresses environmental and public policy issues through interdisciplinary research projects that apply the lens of NASA Earth observations to community concerns around the globe.
+ View the DEVELOP Interactive Mapper
Applied Sciences Disasters Program Support
NASA Langley leads elements of the Applied Sciences Disasters Program which supports the use of Earth observations to improve prediction, preparation, response, and recovery from natural and technological disasters through mitigation approaches, information and maps to disaster response and recovery teams and representation in international organizations focused on reducing global disasters.
+ Learn more at https://disasters.nasa.gov
POWER Project Data Sets
The Langley-developed NASA Prediction of Worldwide Energy Resources (POWER) data sets from NASA research assist with support of renewable energy, building energy efficiency and agricultural needs.
+ Learn more about the POWER project

SCIENCE EDUCATION

An interdisciplinary team of educators, scientists, technology experts and communication specialists collaborate with the education community to bring authentic Earth science practices and real-world data into the classroom.
Citizen scientists around the globe are participating in data collection and contributing to our understanding of the Earth system and global environment.
Science Education Metrics Graphic

BEYOND EARTH

Our atmospheric research also contributes to planetary science, heliophysics & astrophysics:​
  • Through the design, development, modeling and simulation of Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) systems for Earth and planetary bodies,
  • Through our research on space weather and atmospheres of Terrestrial Type Exoplanets and planets,
  • And through SABER’s data being utilized in collaboration with TESS by NASA’s James Webb Telescope in the search for new planets that may harbor life.

2019 PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS

AWARDS

NASA’s most prestigious honor awards are approved by the Administrator and presented to a number of carefully selected individuals and groups of individuals, both Government and non-Government, who have distinguished themselves by making outstanding contributions to the Agency’s mission.​

Individual Awards:

Paul Evangelista, Outstanding Public Leadership Medal
Josh Digangi, Early Career Achievement Medal
Ewan Crosbie, Early Career Achievement Medal
David Doelling, Exceptional Achievement Medal
Michael Pitts, Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal
Fred Rose, Exceptional Achievement Medal
Anne Garnier, Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal

Group Achievement Awards:

Langley Project Execution Assessment Team, Silver Achievement Medal

Kris Bedka and Team, H.J.E. Reid Award​
OWLETS
NAAMES
SAGE III Operations and Science Products
POWER Team
NASA/DLR Multidisciplinary Airborne Experiment (ND)

Lawrence and Reid Paper Awards:

  • The Above-Anvil Cirrus Plume: An Important Severe Weather Indicator in Visible and Infrared Satellite Imagery
    • By KRISTOPHER BEDKA (Science Directorate, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia) & BENJAMIN SCARINO (Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Hampton, Virginia)
Explore the latest news in Science at NASA’s Langley Research Center online at:
https://www.nasa.gov/langley/science

Radiation and Climate Highlights

GOES severe storm analysis, developed by NASA Langley researcher Kris Bedka, reveals the importance of the above anvil cirrus plume signature for forecasting the most catastrophic storms, those that generate 2+ inch diameter hail, 65+ knot winds, and tornadoes with an Enhanced Fujita scale rating of 2 (EF-2) or greater intensity. In 2019, Bedka presented Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) severe storm detection and forecasting to Science and Operations Officers from 18 offices throughout the National Weather Service Central Region, local TV Meteorologists and the NOAA National Weather Service.


NASA Langley Researcher Patrick Taylor was appointed to a leadership panel for the U.S. Climate Variability and Change Program to set research priorities and guide the development of a strategic plan for the Nation’s climate research used by NASA, NOAA, DOE and NSF. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. In 2019, Dr. Taylor participated in the IPCC U.S. Government Review Expert Panel meeting conducted by the Department of State and US Global Change Research Program (GCRP). Dr. Taylor evaluated the Summary for Policymakers for the Special Report on the Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate.


Using online collaboration tools in preparation for the Dynamics and Chemistry of the Summer Stratosphere (DCOTSS) Earth Venture field campaign, NASA Langley contributed to a simulated flight planning exercise conducted in July 2019. The team simulated a NASA ER-2 flight out of Salina, Kansas. Data from weather prediction models were used to identify potential target regions and to determine if wind conditions in Salina would be safe for the ER-2 takeoff/landing. DCOTTS will begin science flights in summer 2020.


DEMETER (DEMonstrating the Emerging Technology for measuring the Earth's Radiation) is a small sensorcraft that will demonstrate a revolutionary approach for measuring Earth's Radiation Budget from Low Earth Orbit. In 2019, DEMETER was selected for the Instrument Incubator Program (IIP) in support of the Earth Science Division (ESD).


The ARCSTONE project, Calibration of Spectral Lunar Reflectance from Space, tackles one of the most challenging tasks in remote sensing from space — achieving required instrument calibration accuracy on-orbit. The ARCSTONE project conducted a pre-Fabrication Review on October 8, 2019. The review represented a major milestone for assessing the project readiness for the Full Spectral Range instrument fabrication phase. The current objective of the ARCSTONE Full Spectral Range (FSR) project is to achieve Technology Readiness Level 5 (TRL5) by the end of 2020 calendar year.

CLARREO Pathfinder (CPF) provides a crucial step toward informing strategic planning by government agencies (e.g. DoD and DOE), the operation and sustainment of key national assets (e.g. coastal military installations), and risk assessment by the reinsurance industry in response to hazards such as flooding and inundation. The CPF project successfully passed its Key Decision Point C (KDP-C) review on July 8, 2019, resulting in agency-level approval to begin implementation per the project’s official schedule and budget.


The NASA Langley Satellite ClOud and Radiation Property retrieval System (SatCORPS) global cloud products have useful applications to aviation, aircraft and engine icing, convective turbulence, cloud layering, and model assimilation. In 2019, a comprehensive review of aviation meteorology and aviation hazard identification and prediction co-authored by NASA Langley researcher Patrick Minnis was published. Highlighted aviation hazards range from turbulence to deep convection.

Read: A Review of High Impact Weather for Aviation Meteorology

In 2019, CERES on Terra marked 20 years of becoming the first instrument to achieve complete global measurements of Earth’s Energy Budget. CERES measures reflected solar and emitted thermal infrared radiation from Earth. These data provide a better understanding of what drives Earth’s climate system and how it is changing. The two CERES instruments aboard Terra continue a data record that began in 1997 with the launch of the first CERES instrument aboard the joint NASA/Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM; operational 1997 to 2015). Six CERES instruments are currently in space.

Langley space-based instruments help to capture a vertical profile and the progression of Hurricane Dorian as it formed in the Eastern Caribbean and moved up the Atlantic Coast. Data from CERES showed the physical extent, highly reflective and cold nature of the clouds, which characterize a storm of Dorian’s strength and dynamic structure. Data from CALIPSO was able to confirm the extent and describe the vertical structure.


On August 21, 2017, North America witnessed a total solar eclipse, with the path of totality passing across the United States from coast to coast. The major public interest in the event inspired the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Observer to organize a citizen science observing campaign to record the meteorological effects of the eclipse. Results published in 2019 show the benefit that research using citizen science data receives from increased numbers of participants and observations.

Read: Eclipse across America: Citizen Science Observations of the 21 August 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

Air Quality Highlights

At any given time, there is a fire burning somewhere on Earth. NASA Langley’s Dr. Amber Soja joined NASA experts to take a closer look at how fires are part of our changing planet during a NASA ScienceLive episode titled, “A World of Fires.” As the climate warms, it has directly affected the way fires occur, with longer fire seasons and more extreme fires that are harder to suppress. With a fleet of satellites orbiting Earth, NASA has a unique perspective to keep an eye on these fires, the impact they have on ecosystems, and how smoke degrades air quality for local communities and populations downwind from biomass burning.

Watch: NASA Science Live: A World of Fires


A joint campaign led by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Fire Influence on Regional to Global Environments and Air Quality (FIREX-AQ) is targeting broad questions about the chemical and physical properties of fire smoke, how it is measured and how it changes from the moment of combustion to its final fate hundreds or thousands of miles downwind. All of these have implications for public health. In 2019, NASA Langley contributed mission science leadership. The NASA Langley National Airborne Sounder Testbed - Interferometer (NAST-I) sensor was included as part of the aircraft payload for the ER-2 component. On the ground, the NASA Langley Aerosol Research Group Experiment (LARGE) operated a van full of instruments to catch the smoke as it settled.

Read: Tracking Smoke From Fires to Improve Air Quality Forecasting

Read: Through Smoke and Fire, NASA Searches for Answers


TEMPO (Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution), a NASA Earth science instrument that will dramatically advance our understanding of air quality over North America, secured a satellite host and ride into space with Maxar Technologies. In September, US, European and Korean team members for the planned new geostationary Earth observation satellites; TEMPO, the Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer (GEMS), Sentinel-4, Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory (GeoCARB) and the Geosynchronous Littoral Imaging and Monitoring Radiometer (GLIMR), met to foster the exchange of ideas on the upcoming Geostationary Air Quality Constellation. The TEMPO mission is a collaboration between NASA and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

Read: Commercial Space Ride Secured for NASA’s New Air Pollution Sensor


Most of us don’t think twice about breathing. In fact, the average adult takes around 20,000 breaths per day. Understanding the air we breathe is essential to life on Earth. In 2019, NASA Langley’s Dr. Patrick Taylor and Dr. Jim Crawford were interviewed for a Health Journal article titled, “The Air Out There: Understanding Air Pollution.”

Read: The Air Out There: Understanding Air Pollution

For the past four years an international research team sponsored by NASA and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has been studying the Asian Tropopause Aerosol Layer (ATAL), an area of enhanced aerosol particles that appears in the summertime. Using balloon-lofted instruments, the Balloon measurement campaign of the Asian Tropopause Aerosol Layer (BATAL) has collected data to better understand this seasonal atmospheric phenomenon and its potential impact on water resources, ozone, weather and climate. In 2019, the team collected data on trace gases and the properties of aerosols and ice crystals. NASA Langley Research Center scientists deployed to India to understand how pollution in Asia is transported into the stratosphere during the active summer monsoon, an annual phenomenon that brings humid weather and torrential rainfall to India and Southeast Asia.

Read: Using Balloons to Track Pollution into the Stratosphere


Demonstrating new technologies is vital to progressing our knowledge and understanding in key science areas. In 2019, NASA Langley's High Altitude Lidar Observatory (HALO) and the Doppler Aerosol WiNd lidar (DAWN) flew on the NASA DC-8 as a part of the Atmospheric Dynamics Mission-Aeolus (ADM-Aeolus) calibration and validation mission, demonstrating a new water vapor profiling capability. Upon completion of the DC-8 flights, HALO also demonstrated the rapid reconfigurability of the system by reconfiguring from water vapor DIAL to methane DIAL measurements within a matter of days to support NASA's Atmospheric Carbon and Transport - America (ACT-America) campaign.

Read: Illuminating Gases in The Sky: NASA Technology Pinpoints Potent Greenhouse Gases

DAWN: NASA Testing Airborne Lasers to Touch the Wind


Dr. Laura Judd (NASA LaRC/SSAI) was selected to join NASA’s Health and Air Quality (HAQ) Applied Sciences Team as an Associate Program Manager. Entering this position in November 2019, Laura tracks and manages a portfolio of Health and Air Quality projects focused on the implementation of air quality standards, policy, and regulations for economic and human welfare. Additionally, she contributes toward strategic planning efforts for advancing innovative and practical uses of NASA Earth science data and capabilities to enhance decision making processes by public and private organizations.

Atmospheric Composition Highlights

SAGE III is a planet finder! (...at least in our immediate neighborhood.) It was able to detect Mercury during its recent transit across the sun. The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III instrument uses the Sun to collect data on stratospheric ozone, aerosols, water vapor, and other trace gases during sunrise and sunset from orbit on the International Space Station (ISS). These measurements are taken every 46 minutes, on average.

Read: SAGE III Sees Mercury Transit the Sun


The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) IV progresses toward developing and demonstrating a solar occultation imager capable of SAGE-quality ozone and aerosol measurements in a 6U CubeSat form factor. The SAGE IV Instrument Incubator Program (IIP) team successfully completed their 30-month interim review with the Earth Science Technology Office (ESTO) on October 8, 2019. This was the last interim review before the end of the IIP and final report-out in March 2020.


The NASA Langley-led project, Stereo Camera for Lunar Plume-Surface Studies (SCALPSS) was selected to fly on two Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) landers. Each of these commercial landers will carry NASA-provided payloads that will conduct science investigations and demonstrate advanced technologies on the moon. The objective of the SCALPSS project is to collect validation data for plume-surface interaction analysis which is critical for future lunar and Mars lander vehicle designs.

The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III instrument observed several stratospheric aerosol events across the globe in 2019. In mid-2019, volcanic emissions from the eruption of Ulawun in Papua New Guinea introduced significant amounts of aerosols into the stratosphere and greatly increased the concentration measured at altitudes observed by the SAGE III instrument. Starting in November 2019, the Australian wildfires produced an additional source of stratospheric aerosol in the form of combusted biomass. SAGE III saw significant stratospheric aerosol ‘loading events’ in the Northern Hemisphere resulting from large wildfires in Alberta, Canada and Siberia, Russia in mid-to-late 2019. Additionally, the Raikoke eruption in June 2019 in the Sea of Okhotsk emitted the largest amount of sulfur dioxide in the past decade. The resulting plume quickly transported toward the equator and was observed at high stratospheric altitudes for several months afterward. Since the SAGE III/ISS record began in June 2017, the Stratospheric Aerosol Optical Depth has recently increased globally by a factor of 2 or 3, but remain a factor of 20 less than after the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991.

Lidar Remote Sensing Highlights

Because different kinds of aerosol particles affect the formation and evolution of clouds in ways that aren’t entirely well understood, and because more data on that process will help researchers refine climate and weather models, it’s a phenomenon ripe for an intensive field study. The Aerosol Cloud meTeorology Interactions oVer the western ATlantic Experiment (ACTIVATE) successfully completed an Investigation Confirmation Review at NASA Headquarters on October 18, 2019. ACTIVATE is an Earth Venture Suborbital-3 (EVS-3) investigation. The ACTIVATE team is prepared to take coordinated flights above, through and below clouds over the western North Atlantic Ocean. Flights will deploy from NASA s Langley Research Center in February 2020.


Scientific outcomes from the North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES) are rewriting textbooks with the first global observations of the greatest animal migration on earth with a satellite lidar coupled with autonomous sensors and coordinated aircraft and ship-based measurements setting an unprecedented characterization of plankton communities. The balanced, interdisciplinary team that conducted the five-year investigation to resolve key processes controlling ocean system function, their influences on atmospheric aerosols and clouds and their implications for climate, held their fifth and final NAAMES Science Team Meeting at NASA’s Langley Research Center in June 2019. During the meeting, team members discussed status of ongoing analyses, collaborative efforts and publications as well as plans to maintain momentum to continue progress beyond project end date of January 2020. Through 2019, published papers had already garnered 295 citations and were distributed across 36 different journals.


In 2019, Atmospheric Carbon and Transport-America, or ACT-America, a NASA airborne science study returned to the field for the fifth and final time to measure how weather moves carbon dioxide and methane through the atmosphere over the eastern part of the United States. By targeting that transport, scientists will better be able to understand how and where those greenhouse gases are cycled into and out of the atmosphere. Ever wondered what its like to fly with NASA? In 2019, local WAVY 10 reporter Jeff Edmondson shared his ACT-America flight experience.

Read: Final ACT-America Flights Target Summer Greenhouse Gases

Watch:
What’s it like to fly with NASA


A group of NASA researchers was blown away by data they collected during an airborne science campaign that spanned from the Pacific coast to Hawaii. While in the sky, they shot lasers at the wind to advance technology that could help improve climate and weather predictions. In 2019, researchers from NASA’s Langley Research Center tested the Doppler Aerosol Wind Lidar (DAWN), an airborne instrument that uses pulsed lasers at varying scan angles to detect the movement of atmospheric aerosols such as dust or sea salt. In detecting those movements, it can profile wind vector both speed and direction.

Read: NASA Testing Airborne Lasers to Touch the Wind


An unexpected series of blasts from a remote volcano in the Kuril Islands sent ash and volcanic gases streaming high over the North Pacific Ocean. Since ash contains sharp fragments of rock and volcanic glass, it poses a serious hazard to aircraft. The Tokyo and Anchorage Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers have been tracking the plume closely and have issued several notes to aviators indicating that ash from the Raikoke eruption in June 2019 had reached an altitude of 13 kilometers (8 miles). Data from the CALIPSO satellite indicated that parts of the plume may have reached 17 kilometers (10 miles).

Read: Raikoke Erupts


Every night, under the cover of darkness, countless small sea creatures from squid to krill swim from the ocean depths to near the surface to feed. This vast animal migration the largest on the planet and a critical part of Earth’s climate system has been observed globally for the first time thanks to an unexpected use of a space-based laser. Researchers observed this vertical migration pattern using the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) satellite—a joint venture between NASA and the French space agency, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales—that launched in 2006. In 2019, they published their findings in the journal Nature.

Read: NASA, French Space Laser Measures Massive Migration of Ocean Animals


When aloft ozone may be mixing down into the boundary layer and compromising surface air quality, the NASA Langley Mobile Ozone Lidar (LMOL) team are able to more fully characterize these complex events. In 2019, the team continued to gather data and they presented their work from OWLETS-1, OWLETS-2, and the Long Island Sound Tropospheric Ozone Study (LISTOS) field campaigns, as well as the annual TOLNet station report at the OWLETS/TOLNet Science Team Meetings at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Center for Weather and Climate Prediction facility in College Park, Maryland.


Langley is well on the path to develop technology that will significantly reduce the cost and risk of the future space-based water vapor Differential Absorption Lidar (DIAL) mission. The Atmospheric Boundary Layer Lidar PathfindEr (ABLE), was selected for the Instrument Incubator Program (IIP) in support of the Earth Science Division (ESD). The ABLE IIP will advance pulsed solid state lasers, pump laser diodes, and photonic integrated circuit (PIC) seed lasers.


NASA CAMP2Ex (The Cloud, Aerosol and Monsoon Processes Philippines Experiment) is a multi-platform international mission studying aerosol-cloud-radiation interactions associated with the Southwest Monsoon. NASA Langley supported the CAMP2Ex mission in 2019 by participating in extensive flight planning activities and helping to guide the P-3B aircraft to areas of interest to study aerosols and clouds and to maintain safe flight operations. Langley also deployed several instruments on the P-3B to measure aerosol/cloud properties, cloud chemistry, and 3D winds.

Read: Philippine Airborne Campaign Targets Weather, Climate Science

Atmospheric Science Data Center Highlights

NASA Langley’s Brandi Quam presented on the use of Earth Observation Satellites (EOS) Geospatial Data for Earth Science at the 5th Annual GIS and Remote Sensing Congress meeting held September 2019, in Rome, Italy. Quam also delivered the keynote and welcome presentation. The theme of the conference was ‘Implementation and Advancement of GIS and Remote Sensing Techniques’ and sessions and presentations ranged from commercial applications, such as strategic asset management and precision farming, to advanced research from industry and academic institutions across the globe. Brandi also moderated sessions focused on Spatial Analysis, Remote Sensing in Urban Environments, and Geographic Information System (GIS) for Disaster Assessment and Management.


In 2019, ASDC team members shared knowledge of principles and technologies that could be reapplied across various NASA Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs) for a multitude of projects during an Earthdata Webinar titled, “Modern Website Engineering for STA3CD (“stacked”): Subsetting Tools for Advanced Analysis of Airborne Chemistry Data.”

The Atmosphere Science Data Center (ASDC) held its User Working Group (UWG) meeting in June 2019 at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton. The ASDC team captured key finding, issues and concerns, and recommendations during the UWG breakout sessions. Previous UWG recommendations were reviewed which included Discovery, Access, Transformation, and Analysis. Two breakout sessions were held. Sessions covered Dynamic Landing Pages, Direct Data Downloads, ESDIS/DAAC User Forum, Earthdata Search: End-to-End Services, Airborne Data, Subsetting, Geospatial, and Cloud Analytics.


In July 2019, several ASDC team members attended the Esri International User Conference, the world’s largest GIS conference. The team presented on local and global tools for weather and atmosphere and discussed Earthdata Search, NASA’s Global Imagery Browse Services (GIBS), ASDC GIS web services, and NASA Langley’s Prediction of Worldwide Energy Resources (POWER) program.

DEVELOP Highlights

Hampton could use more trees to slow the stormwater runoff into creeks. The advice came from NASA Langley researchers, student interns, involved in the DEVELOP program who studied Hampton and its Newmarket watershed area. In August 2019, DEVELOP’s Hampton Roads Urban Development team had the opportunity to present their project results to the Hampton City Council. The team partnered with the City of Hampton, Virginia, home to NASA’s Langley Research Center, to analyze the urban tree canopy and impervious surface cover to inform resiliency efforts within the municipality.

Read: Hampton gets resiliency advice from interns at NASA Langley


DEVELOP presented at the Federal Partners Day of the Groundwork USA National Assembly & Youth Summit in Shepherdstown, WV in October 2019. The presentation was part of a session titled, “Youth Action on Climate: Change: What Skills Are Needed?” and highlighted the six projects that have collaborated with local Groundwork trusts over the past two years..

Applied Sciences Disasters Program Support Highlights

David Borges led Disasters Program involvement in Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and was named Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) Working Group Disasters (WGDisasters) Secretariat for a two year term at the 2019 CEOS Plenary in Ha Noi, Viet Nam. GEO is an international partnership of governments and organizations working towards a future where decisions and actions for the benefit of humankind are informed by coordinated, comprehensive and sustained Earth observations. CEOS is a mechanism to coordinate civil space-based EO programmes globally and promote data exchange for society’s benefit.


David Borges co-led a workshop titled, “Resilient Recovery Approaches: Using Earth Observations to Understand Vulnerability and Exposure in Land and Infrastructure Planning,” which convened the NASA Disasters Program and the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust (PRST) in August 2019 in San Juan Puerto Rico. The workshop brought together a wide variety of attendees from the federal and local government, territory and private industry.


A research grant was awarded through peer-refereed review in April of 2019, to Primary Investigator Kris Bedka at NASA Langley for a proposal entitled, “Using Space-Borne Remote Sensing to Assess Hail Storm Risk.” It is one of 10 new ROSES Disasters 2018 grant projects now being managed by NASA Langley’s John Murray.

POWER Highlights

POWER continues to build collaborations with ASHRAE (formerly stood for the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, Air-Conditioning Engineers) and Dr. Drury Crawley to improve the applicability and accessibility of NASA research data products to problems in building design optimization and energy efficiency. In 2019, Dr. Paul Stackhouse met with Dr. Crawley and participated in 2019 ASHRAE Summer Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. A briefing was presented to the TC 4.2 Executive committee and highlighted the past 6-month activities of the NASA POWER team to the ASHRAE Technical Committee 4.2 (ASHRAE TC4.2), which is responsible for a quadrennial update of the Climatic Design Information chapter in the ASHRAE Handbook – Fundamentals. ASHRAE has 59,000 members worldwide and provides information for building code standards for the U.S. and worldwide.


In July 2019, Dr. Paul Stackhouse Jr, Principle Investigator of Prediction of Worldwide Energy Resource (POWER), met with Greg Leng, Director of the RETScreen International project that has developed and released the new RETScreen Expert clean energy technology decision support tool. POWER supports the RETScreen Expert feasibility tool using long-term averages of relevant solar and meteorological parameters and provides the same parameters at low-latency at the daily average to support the building energy monitoring components. The RETScreen Expert tool is averaging 40,000 downloads per year and now has 650,000 registered users worldwide. It is now being used to monitor nearly 400,000,000 sq ft of building space worldwide including users such as 3M, Johnson Controls, all Canadian federal, multiple large university campuses such of U. of Michigan and educational facilities such as all schools in the State of Hawaii. Arrangements with NASA’s own Office of Strategic Infrastructure for building energy and greenhouse gas monitoring at all NASA Centers.


Dr. Paul W. Stackhouse Jr., made a presentation entitled, “Assessing 30+ years of Solar Resource, Surface Temperature and Humidity Variability Using NASA’s Latest Versions of Satellite Based Solar Irradiance and Atmospheric Reanalysis Data Sets” at the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) Solar 2019 meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota in August 2019. The presentation showed long-term agreement of the newly processed GEWEX Surface Radiation Budget Shortwave Release 4 Integrated product (GSW R4-IP) with CERES and surface measurements. The long-term changes of the solar irradiance were discussed and assessed using a technique to evaluate statistical significance that accounts for the time series autocorrelation. It was found that long-term changes in the surface solar irradiance varying from 2-4 W m-2/decade were found to be statistically significant in the southern US regions. These findings are preliminary and will continue to be assessed against surface measurements and other data products to evaluate their reliability. However, the changes show the importance of considering time series variability for solar assessment rather than just the multi-year mean.

Science Education Highlights

Show us your cloudy skies, please. We asked. You really came through. The GLOBE Fall Cloud Observation Challenge brought in more than 45,000 observations from citizen scientists in more than 17,000 locations in 93 countries on every continent — including Antarctica. This influx of cloud observations is super helpful to NASA scientists who work with geostationary satellites and the suite of satellite instruments known as the Clouds and the Earth's Energy Radiant System (CERES). By comparing geostationary and CERES observations from a particular area to data submitted by citizen scientists, scientists can differentiate between wispy cirrus clouds and cold, bright features on the ground such as snow. But it wasn't just cloud observations you shared with us. We also got reports of purple skies, haboobs and other types of dust storms, and smoke plumes from fires. These measurements are of interest to atmospheric scientists, too, as they work to improve their understanding of dust storms.

Read: GLOBE Fall Cloud Challenge Rakes in the Observations
Watch: Students collecting environmental data to assist NASA


In 2019, the Science Directorate at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia played host to 30 students from Northern Shores Elementary School in Suffolk, Virginia. The visit served as a capstone experience for third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students in recognition of their hard work in STEM-related, extended-day programs at their school. These programs included the newly formed GLOBE Club through partnership with Langley, as well as the Girls STEM Club funded by Northrup Grumman. GLOBE, or the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment program, is a worldwide initiative that brings together students, teachers, scientists and citizens to promote science and learning about the environment. The field trip to Langley involved hands-on STEM activities offered by the Science Directorate, Office of STEM Engagement, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics – Hampton Roads Section, and the National Institute of Aerospace. In the above photo, student Madyson Knox experiments with UV-sensitive beads.


Read: Students Visit Langley to Cap Off STEM Experience

The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Partnership at NASA Langley Research Center hosted the GLOBE Weather Workshop, led by University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) with facilitation support by Angie Rizzi. Fifteen Virginia teachers participated in the three day workshop. GLOBE Weather is funded by NASA and its free five-week curriculum unit is designed to help middle school students understand weather at local, regional, and global scales. The curriculum is aligned to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Combining the skills of educational resource developers from the UCAR Center for Science Education with Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) Science Learning's curriculum design tools and processes from the American Museum of Natural History, GLOBE Weather represents a new approach for students to learn about weather phenomena that builds on prior knowledge and focuses on developing and iterating on models and analyzing data. The unit also leverages the existing suite of GLOBE science protocols and GLOBE data collected around the world. GLOBE Weather was designed to meet the needs of teachers who are already part of the GLOBE community and teachers who are not already actively involved in GLOBE.


NASA Langley Research Center's Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Clouds program team started a campaign to collect ground observations and photographs of dust storms from citizen scientists through NASA's GLOBE Observer app. The use of these citizen science dust reports is being explored to improve satellite dust masks inferred from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) and the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) and dust forecasts from the US National Air Quality Forecast Capability (NAQFC). Researchers Dr. Daniel Tong from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Kerstin Schepanski from the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS) have partnered with the GLOBE Clouds team to collect and process the ground observations of dust storms. A webinar was conducted by GLOBE Clouds project scientist Marile Colon Robles with instructions on how to make the observations and provided existing educator resources for formal and informal audiences.


Tips and tricks for middle school teachers who would like to use the GLOBE Observer App for student research related to clouds was included in an article titled, “Making Science come Alive with Clouds.” The article published in the National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) Science Scope Journal for Middle School teachers in an Integrating Technology Special Issue.

Read: Integrating Tech: Making Science Come Alive With Clouds

BEYOND EARTH HIGHLIGHTS

Science at Langley is also helping to lay the groundwork for future science work beyond Earth by:

  • Developing the Mars Entry, Descent and Landing Instrumentation 2 (MEDLI2) that will measure aerothermal environments and the performance of thermal protection system (TPS) material during the entry phase on the Mars 2020 Mission,
  • Developing the sample return Earth Entry Vehicle (EEV) for the future Mars Sample Return Mission,
  • Contributing to EDL, parachute development and flight vehicle performance for NASA’s Dragonfly Mission to Titan, the second largest moon in the solar system,
  • Developing SCALPSS (Read: Stereo Cameras for Lunar Plume-Surface Studies), which will capture video and still image data of the lander’s plume as the plume starts to impact the lunar surface until after engine shut off — a critical capability for future lunar and Mars vehicle designs,
  • And by supporting modeling efforts for GRAM (Global Reference Atmospheric Model), one of the most widely used engineering models of vehicles and atmospheric environments for many NASA projects where planetary spacecraft cannot be tested in the flight environment prior to a mission.

  • CAPABLE/CRAVE Full Site Photo from left to right site enclosures: 1196A NASA LaRC, MPLnet, Virginia DEQ
    CAPABLE/CRAVE Full Site Photo from left to right site enclosures: 1196A NASA LaRC, MPLnet, Virginia DEQ

  • NASA LaRC NAST-I and HU ASSIST side-by-side for intercomparison
    NASA LaRC NAST-I and HU ASSIST side-by-side for intercomparison

  • Virginia DEQ, NASA and Penn State-NATIVE Enclosures (from right to left)
    Virginia DEQ, NASA and Penn State-NATIVE Enclosures (from right to left)

  • Ozone-sonde away.
    Ozone-sonde away.
  • About to lift.
    About to lift.
PurpleAir PA-II-SD Air Quality Sensor
Laser Particle Counters
Type (2) PMS5003
Range of measurement 0.3, 0.5, 1.0, 2.5, 5.0, & 10 μm
Counting efficiency 50% at 0.3μm & 98% at ≥0.5μm
Effective range
(PM2.5 standard)*
0 to 500 μg/m³
Maximum range (PM2.5 standard)* ≥1000 μg/m³
Maximum consistency error (PM2.5 standard) ±10% at 100 to 500μg/m³ & ±10μg/m³ at 0 to 100μg/m³
Standard Volume 0.1 Litre
Single response time ≤1 second
Total response time ≤10 seconds
Pressure, Temperature, & Humidity Sensor
Type BME280
Temperature range -40°F to 185°F (-40°C to 85°C)
Pressure range 300 to 1100 hPa
Humidity Response time (τ63%): 1 s
Accuracy tolerance: ±3% RH
Hysteresis: ≤2% RH


Pandora capabilities

Instrument

Response

Parameter

Precision

Uncertainty

Range

Resolution

Pandora

~2min

Total Column O3, NO2, HCHO, SO2, H2O, BrO

0.01 DU

0.1 DU

 

 

Virginia Department of Environment Quality in-situ instrumentation

Instrument

Response

Parameter

Precision

Uncertainty

Thermo Scientific 42C (Molybdenum converter)
(VADEQ)

60 s

NO and NOx

50 pptv

3%

Teledyne API 200EU w/ photolytic converter
(EPA) PI-Szykman

20 s

NO2

50 pptv

 

Thermo Scientific 49C (VADEQ)

20 s

O3

1 ppbv

4%

Thermo Scientific 48i (VADEQ)

60 s

CO

40 ppbv

5%

Thermo Scientific 43i (VADEQ)

80 s

SO2

0.2 ppbv

5%

Thermo Scientific 1400AB TEOM (VADEQ)

600 s

PM2.5 (continuous)

µg/m3

1 3%

Thermo Scientific Partisol Plus 2025 (VADEQ)

24 hr

PM2.5 (filter-based FRM)- 1/3 days

 

 

BSRN-LRC-49
Large area view.
Latitude: 37.1038
Longitude: -76.3872
Elevation: 3 m Above sea level
Scenes: urban, marsh, bay, river and farm.

Legend

  • The inner red circle is a 20km CERES foot print centered on the BSRN-LRC site.
  • The pink circle represents a possible tangential 20km foot print.
  • The middle red circle represents the area in which a 20km foot print could fall and still see the site.
  • Yellow is a sample 40 deg off nadir foot print.
  • The outer red circle is the region which would be seen by a possible 40 deg off nadir foot print.
The BSRN-LRC sun tracker at the NASA Langley Research Center on a snowy day (02/20/2015) The BSRN-LRC sun tracker at the NASA Langley Research Center on a snowy day (02/20/2015)
CAPABLE-BSRN Google Site Location Image

Team Satellite Sensor G/L Dates Number of obs Phase angle range (°)
CMA FY-3C MERSI LEO 2013-2014 9 [43 57]
CMA FY-2D VISSR GEO 2007-2014
CMA FY-2E VISSR GEO 2010-2014
CMA FY-2F VISSR GEO 2012-2014
JMA MTSAT-2 IMAGER GEO 2010-2013 62 [-138,147]
JMA GMS5 VISSR GEO 1995-2003 50 [-94,96]
JMA Himawari-8 AHI GEO 2014- -
EUMETSAT MSG1 SEVIRI GEO 2003-2014 380/43 [-150,152]
EUMETSAT MSG2 SEVIRI GEO 2006-2014 312/54 [-147,150]
EUMETSAT MSG3 SEVIRI GEO 2013-2014 45/7 [-144,143]
EUMETSAT MET7 MVIRI GEO 1998-2014 128 [-147,144]
CNES Pleiades-1A PHR LEO 2012 10 [+/-40]
CNES Pleiades-1B PHR LEO 2013-2014 10 [+/-40]
NASA-MODIS Terra MODIS LEO 2000-2014 136 [54,56]
NASA-MODIS Aqua MODIS LEO 2002-2014 117 [-54,-56]
NASA-VIIRS NPP VIIRS LEO 2012-2014 20 [50,52]
NASA-OBPG SeaStar SeaWiFS LEO 1997-2010 204 (<10, [27-66])
NASA/USGS Landsat-8 OLI LEO 2013-2014 3 [-7]
NASA OCO-2 OCO LEO 2014
NOAA-STAR NPP VIIRS LEO 2011-2014 19 [-52,-50]
NOAA GOES-10 IMAGER GEO 1998-2006 33 [-66, 81]
NOAA GOES-11 IMAGER GEO 2006-2007 10 [-62, 57]
NOAA GOES-12 IMAGER GEO 2003-2010 49 [-83, 66]
NOAA GOES-13 IMAGER GEO 2006 11
NOAA GOES-15 IMAGER GEO 2012-2013 28 [-52, 69]
VITO Proba-V VGT-P LEO 2013-2014 25 [-7]
KMA COMS MI GEO 2010-2014 60
AIST Terra ASTER LEO 1999-2014 1 -27.7
ISRO OceanSat2 OCM-2 LEO 2009-2014 2
ISRO INSAT-3D IMAGER GEO 2013-2014 2

The NASA Prediction Of Worldwide Energy Resources (POWER) Project improves the accessibility and usage NASA Earth Observations (EO) supporting community research in three focus areas: 1) renewable energy development, 2) building energy efficiency, and 3) agroclimatology applications. The latest POWER version enhances its distribution systems to provide the latest NASA EO source data, be more resilient, support users more effectively, and provide data more efficiently. The update will include hourly-based source Analysis Ready Data (ARD), in addition to enhanced daily, monthly, annual, and climatology ARD. The daily time-series now spans 40 years for meteorology available from 1981 and solar-based parameters start in 1984. The hourly source data are from Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) and Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO), spanning 20 years from 2001.

The newly available hourly data will provide users the ARD needed to model the energy performance of building systems, providing information directly amenable to decision support tools introducing the industry standard EPW (EnergyPlus Weather file). One of POWER’s partners, Natural Resource Canada’s RETScreen™, will be simultaneously releasing a new version of its software, which will have integrated POWER hourly and daily ARD products. For our agroclimatology users, the ICASA (International Consortium for Agricultural Systems Applications standards) format for the crop modelers has been modernized.

POWER is releasing new user-defined analytic capabilities, including custom climatologies and climatological-based reports for parameter anomalies, ASHRAE® compatible climate design condition statistics, and building climate zones. The ARD and climate analytics will be readily accessible through POWER's integrated services suite, including the Data Access Viewer (DAV). The DAV has been improved to incorporate updated parameter groupings, new analytical capabilities, and the new data formats. Updated methodology documentation and usage tutorials, as well as application developer specific pages, allow users to access to POWER Data efficiently.

+Visit the POWER Program Site to Learn More.