NASA MPOWIR Speaker Series
Goddard Space Flight Center visit September 10-11, 2009
Colleen Mouw, University of Wisconsin-Madison
This past fall, I was honored to be able to visit and speak at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. I was hosted by Sirpa Hakkinen from the Physical Oceanography section of the Ocean Sciences Branch. My time was spent primarily in one-on-one meetings with various scientists within the physical oceanography, cryospheric sciences, and ocean color groups. I gave a presentation on phytoplankton cell size retrieval from SeaWiFS imagery, and the ecological application of the novel product. There was interest in what capabilities the new sensors will need to enable future algorithm development focusing on phytoplankton functional types.
A large portion of my time was spent with the Ocean Biology Processing Group who manage the data processing and software development for the ocean color missions including SeaWiFS and MODIS. There were dramatic mixed emotions about the upcoming VIIRS (Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite) mission, which is a follow on to the SeaWiFS and MODIS legacy for ocean color observations. There was a lot of anticipation for missions in the planning stages including GeoCAPE (GEOstationary Coastal and Air Pollution Events), ACE (Aerosol, Clouds and ocean Ecosystems) and, HyspIRI (Hyperspectral-InfraRed Imager). The group is also preparing to take on the management of the Aquarius sea surface salinity mission, which is planned to launch in 2010.
The culmination of the visit was a personal tour of the satellite assembly and testing facilities with the Ocean Sciences Branch head, David Adamec. I found this opportunity particularly exciting. It was really fascinating to see first-hand satellites prior to launch. Until this point, my nearest encounter with the tool I base my science upon was photographs. I gained a deeper appreciation of the tremendous engineering and testing efforts that go into mission preparation.