2009 SESDA II News Archive

Henderson attends Climate Change Conference


SESDA II staff member, Maurice Henderson, attended and supported the Science on a Sphere exhibit at the 15th Conference of the Parties Climate Change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December. Several climate scientists presented data using the Sphere. The figure shows Dr. Alexander MacDonald, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Deputy Assistant Administrator for Labs and Cooperative Institutes, presenting data which was simulcast to other Spheres around the world. Mr. Henderson is the principle developer of the exhibit.


Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) on Twitter

December 11, 2009


With SDO launch looming in early 2010, SESDA II Education and Public Outreach (EPO) staff are planning the first ever launch Tweetup (http://twitter.com/NASA_SDO) where people who twitter can come together to meet in person at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Twitter has become the preeminent tool for providing timely information to the general public on SDO’s launch schedule and associated events planned at KSC and Goddard Space Flight Center. The SDO Twitter account currently has 2,200 followers reaching up to 28,000 unique users, and is ranked the 11th most popular NASA-related Twitter account.



Educate to Innovate

Dec 7, 2009

On November 23, 2009, NASA's Science Mission Directorate, supported by SESDA II staff members, participated in the launch of President Obama's "Educate to Innovate" Campaign for Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) Education. The event was held in the South Court Auditorium at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Our staff provided the Dynamic Planet digital video globe as an example of an interactive learning tool for students of all ages. The system was on stage with the President as he made his remarks. "I want to thank NASA and Charlie (Bolden) for providing the interactive globe — an innovative and engaging way of teaching young people about our world." The full text of the President's remarks can be found at the following link:

View the President's remarks.

Following the event, the students in attendance were able to briefly interact with the Dynamic Planet.

Become a Friend of the James Webb Space Telescope

December 7, 2009



If you’re like most people you keep in touch with your social network via Facebook. Well, now you can make a new friend: the James Webb Space Telescope! A SESDA II staff member who participates in Education and Public Outreach for the JWST project started this page as a way to keep the public interested and informed about the telescope, which is currently scheduled for launch in 2014. The JWST Facebook page is updated regularly with news notes, photos, and videos and currently boasts more than 1250 friends!

You can also join the more than 1450 people who follow JWST on Twitter at twitter.com/NASAWebbTelescp or check out the project’s YouTube channel (another SESDA II innovation).



SESDA II staff help lead the way with visualization of A-Train data using Giovanni and Google Earth

The combination of Giovanni and Google Earth allows striking visualization of data from the “A-Train” satellite constellation. SESDA II staff helped develop the Giovanni Google Earth visualization capability which uses the A-Train constellation data to provide users with ability to visualize both vertical data curtain plots and surface strips for the same temporal and spatial range. Researchers can now select a specific temporal/spatial range to obtain KMZ files (Google Earth native formats) with vertical information (temperature, water vapor, clouds, aerosols, etc.) and surface swaths (cloud pressure, cloud top temperature, cloud cover, etc.) which can be subsequently downloaded and viewed in a Google Earth browser.

Google Earth Image

This image shows a visualization of the Atmospheric Temperature Vertical Profile and Cloud Top Pressure Surface Strips from MODIS-Aqua on March 9th, 2009 over the regions in the equatorial Africa. Note that the image is oriented with North to the right.


4th annual SESDA Holiday Open House Occasion (HOHO)

November 19, 2009



Come celebrate the season at the

4th annual SESDA Holiday Open House Occasion (HOHO)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

4 – 6pm

Goddard Corporate Park (GCP)

7515 Mission Drive

Suite A100

Sandwiches and wraps, salads and dips, desserts and drinks.

Invite your government customers.

For more information contact Angie Martz (301-352-4606 or amartz (at) sesda2 (dot) com)


Will a massive Solar storm cause the world to end on December 21, 2012?

October 5, 2009



Such was the sobering premise of an interview by SESDA II Scientist Dr. Alex Young in a documentary by Discovery Channel about the myths of the end of the world when the Mayan calendar ends on December 21, 2012. The documentary is timed with the upcoming release of a major science fiction movie about the end of the world on this iconic date. Although very unlikely that an intense Solar storm could wreak the doomsday havoc portrayed in the movie, it can impact society in a variety of ways ranging from damaging GPS and communication satellites to knocking out electrical power grids. The production company (KPI TV of New York City) gave the documentary set an appropriate post-apocalyptic, post-doomsday feel by filming in a large building in Brooklyn undergoing renovation. You can read more about the interview in the blog post Deconstructing Doomsday.


SESDA II Staff Collaborate on Planetarium Show

September 1, 2009


Journey to the Stars

The planetarium show “Journey to the Stars” opened in New York City on July 4, 2009 at the Hayden Planetarium of the Rose Center for Earth and Space, part of the American Museum of Natural History.

Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, this show uses NASA imagery and computer simulations to explore the life and death of stars, including our own Sun. SESDA II staff were instrumental in providing images of the solar corona from the STEREO mission, which are used dramatically in the presentation.

Dennis Overbye of the New York Times described “Journey to the Stars” as “easily the most beautiful planetarium show I have ever seen.” Of the part of the show based on the data provided by SESDA II staff, Mr. Overbye says “The filmmakers are not afraid to get in our faces. Showing us the Sun’s corona, the feathery hot gases that extend invisibly except during total solar eclipses far out into space, they pull the Sun down over our heads until it takes up half the planetarium dome squatting over us like a spider with rays fanning out around it, sort of like Doctor Octopus in ‘Spider-Man 2.”

Watch the show at Journey to the Stars.


SESDA II Supports Exploration of the Extreme Universe

NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is a powerful orbiting observatory designed to examine the universe in the most extreme high-energy regime, revealing new information about black holes, pulsars, and the extraordinary phenomena known as gamma-ray bursts. SESDA II scientists and programmers have been involved in supporting the mission from its early design phase through launch and have recently achieved two major milestones: the opening of the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) data server and the public release of the Fermi Science Tools. The data server is the primary tool by which the scientific community will obtain Fermi data. It is populated with LAT data in several formats, allows sophisticated searches by users, and automatically creates and posts weekly gamma-ray sky images, an example of which is shown below.

weekly gamma-ray sky image

The Science Tools software suite contains all of the software that the community will use to analyze the data obtained from the LAT data server. As the analysis process matures, refinements and extensions to these tools will be required but the SESDA II team’s strong configuration management procedures, combined with their scientific expertise, will allow them to quickly modify, test and release robust new versions of the software to meet the needs of the scientific community and the Fermi mission team.