NASA’s STEREO Mission Sees the Entire Sun

December 10, 2010

Mark your calendars for February 2011 when, for the first time ever, the entire front and far side of the Sun will be simultaneously visible by the twin STEREO spacecraft. This momentous event when the two spacecraft attain 180 degrees of separation will be the culmination of years of planning and development. SESDA II staff’s ongoing support of instrument and data processing operations at the STEREO Science Center was vital in helping achieve this critical milestone.

SESDA II staff help with the studies of sulfur dioxide and ash from Mount Merapi, Java, Indonesia

December 10, 2010

SESDA II staff working at the GES DISC have developed a visualization tool named Giovanni (GES DISC Interactive Online Visualization ANd aNalysis Infrastructure). Giovanni provides data from several NASA satellites that allow monitoring of the atmospheric effects of the Merapi eruption. The Ozone Monitoring Instrument Level 2 Gridded (OMIL2G) interface provides daily SO2 data, which show the movement of the SO2 aerosol cloud over the eastern Indian Ocean during the series of eruptions occurring between November 5 and November 12. The threat posed by clouds of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and ash erupted into the atmosphere from Merapi caused the cancellation of airplane flights during some days of the eruption, and even affected the travel itinerary of U.S. President Barack Obama during his state visit to Indonesia.

The ongoing eruption of Mount Merapi on the Indonesian island of Java disrupted the lives of thousands of local residents, who live in the shadow of this active volcano, partly due to the agricultural richness created by the fertile volcanic soils on its slopes. Pyroclastic flows and ash deposition from a series of strong explosion events have caused hundreds of fatalities and required the evacuation of the local region. Despite the continuing danger from the volcano, some residents are trying to move back to their damaged homes already.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument acquired the true-color image below, showing the erupting ash plume from Mount Merapi on November 10, 2010.  (Image and labeling courtesy of the NASA Earth Observatory.

Live from New Orleans: SESDA II Staff Implement One of the World’s Fastest Networks

November 18, 2010

Conference for high performance computing logoFor part of November, with the help of SESDA II’s High End Computing Network (HECN) staff, New Orleans is home to one of the fastest computer networks anywhere in the world.   Called SCinet, the network is created each year exclusively for “SC”, the international conference for high performance computing, networking, storage and analysis. This year’s conference, SC10 in New Orleans, is being attended by several members of the HECN group, including two SESDA staff members, who developed the cutting edge architecture, installed the complex system, and are demonstrating it to show its applicability to bandwidth-intensive applications that are typically found in the supercomputing and cloud computing worlds. Their year’s state-of-the-art network boasts capacity of over 260 gigabits per second – fast enough to allow the entire collection of books at the Library of Congress to be transferred in less than thirty seconds. Our HECN group’s contribution includes new technology that gives 40 gigabit per second disk-to-disk transfers and 100 gbps memory-to-memory transfers over transcontinental distances!

SDO is Go for Launch!

November 2, 2010

Tweet map

SESDA II staff organized multiple events to celebrate and support the successful launch on 11 February 2010 of the much anticipated Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) – the first mission in NASA’s Living with a Star Program. The team held a workshop at Kennedy Space Center for 80 teachers and ran activity tables during two days leading up to launch that was attended by over 7,000 visitors who had the opportunity to meet and interact with SDO scientists and engineers.  As an additional treat, staff organized the first ever launch Tweet-up ( that allowed the public to actively follow and participate in launch-related activities. As displayed in the accompanying figure, over 60 independent tweet-up events were held around the country and the globe in support of the launch.

GES DISC provides CO2 data from Japanese GOSAT

November 2, 2010

Atmospheric CO2 Observations from Space (ACOS) Project data set archived at GES DISC

Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite logoSESDA II staff working at the Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center (GES DISC) helped stand up the CO2 column-averaged dry air mole fraction data generated from measurements obtained by the Japanese Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite (GOSAT) platform. These data are Level 2 data generated by the Atmospheric CO2 Observations from Space (ACOS) Project at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has granted the ACOS Project access to GOSAT’s calibrated Level 1B measurements. The ACOS Project applies the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) calibration, validation, and remote sensing retrieval assets to analyze these GOSAT measurements. Data are available for selected soundings from April 2009 to present.
These data are in the Hierarchical Data Format (HDF5) and are available (along with documentation) from the Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center Atmospheric Composition Portal: and through the GOSAT/ACOS page at GES DISC:

Study the Sun during Solar Week

November 2, 2010

Solar Week, October 18-22, 2010

If you are interested in learning all about our nearest star, the Sun, then Solar Week is for you:

This annual series of web-based educational activities is designed to help upper elementary to high school level students learn about  topics and careers in Solar physics by asking questions to professional scientists. Since the project began in 2000, SESDA II staff member Dawn Myers has participated with 20 other scientists around the globe in sharing their knowledge and excitement about the dynamic star at the center of our Solar System.

Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Meeting

November 1, 2010

Sample of poster's images submitted to the GEO meetingSESDA staff are supporting the international Group on Earth Observations (GEO) meeting in Bejing, China, in October. More than eighty countries will be represented. Presentations by the group include the Dynamic Planet exhibit.  A poster developed for the US Health Showcase is shown in the figure.

SESDA II Visits Saturn

September 14, 2010

SESDA II staff were involved in yet another exciting discovery by the Cassini spacecraft's Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS). A special flyby of Saturn's moon, Mimas, revealed an unexpected thermal heating pattern that scientists are scrambling to explain. Staff participated in the find through their creation and uplink of CIRS command sequences for the observation as well as their processing and calibration of the returned science data which was used by the science team to create the map. A visible image of the moon and the "pacman-shaped" thermal pattern composed from the flyby data was featured on the Cassini Mission's Web site.

JWST Gotchu!

September 14, 2010


A recent segment on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” featured cast member (and Hubble Space Telescope enthusiast) “Milky J” traveling to GSFC in mock protest of the James Webb Space Telescope. SESDA II staff member Maggie Masetti supports the JWST public affairs office and social media effort for the project and so she was right in the thick of things, facilitating the visit by Fallon’s crew and then blogging about her experience (

This great piece of publicity for JWST attracted a significant amount of attention, with kudos from the main NASA web portal , TV Guide, and various prominent science blogs. Maggie’s blog contains links to the final segment from the Fallon show and many more pictures taken during the shooting.

Educate to Innovate

September 8, 2010

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.