Monthly News Summary – March 1998

March 29, 1998 | Abigail Mindock

University of the Air

by Terri Gregory, SSEC Public Information Specialist

Over the years, WHA Radio (970 AM in Madison) and the University of Wisconsin-Extension have produced a series of in-depth, hour-long talks with experts from the UW-Madison. Current program moderators and interviewers of this University of the Air are Professor Emily Auerbach and Norman Gilleland. Their shows have included series on mythology, women writers, cancer research, and Scandinavian literature.

They now set their sights on the farthest limits of science with a series called “Life in the Universe.” SSEC scientist Sanjay Limaye started the series on March 1 talking about the planets and planetary exploration. In the coming weeks, guests will be Clark Johnson focusing on past life, William Barker discussing geochemistry, and John Valley talking about possible life on Mars. The show airs at 4:00 p.m. Sunday afternoons and is repeated the following Friday at 11:00 p.m.

For more information, follow the links below.


In Print

Satellites Then and Now

For More Information

Something New Book Review

A Satellite Primer

Helen Gavaghan’s book, Something New Under the Sun: Satellites and the Beginning of the Space Age, covers navigation, meteorology, and communication satellites. Gavaghan focuses on those innovators she calls “the Edisons and Marconis of satellites,” including Verner Suomi. Helen spent many days with Dr. Suomi at SSEC and at his home, interviewing him about the early days of meteorological satellite science. Bob Oehlkers, Bob Sutton and Leo Skille, who all contributed to Professor Suomi’s early efforts, are also included in the book. Gavaghan tells a fascinating story, focusing on the personalities of the men (it was all men in those days) who created satellite science out of whole cloth.

NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise

Gaia Theory

Real-time SSEC/NOAA GOES-9 imageTyler Volk uses black-and-white visible GOES images from SSEC’s Web site to illustrate his new book, Gaia’s Body. An image appears at the beginning of each chapter. Elsewhere, eight GOES-8 and -9 images illustrate four days of weather on Earth. Gaia’s Body is an engaging primer of sorts that considers earth system science as Gaia, “the interacting system of life, soil, atmosphere, and ocean.” SSEC and NOAA are credited for the production of the images in the writer’s Acknowledgments and captions.


WITI Severe Weather Guide

Doppler Radar

Earth magazine (April 1998) carries Vince Condella’s informative article on Doppler radar. The article explains the “blobs of color” on a radar map, traces the history of radar, and explains in detail the difference between “old” radar and Doppler radar, and the advantages of Doppler. Vince is a meteorologist for WITI-TV in Milwaukee. Both he and WITI’s other meteorologist, Bart Adrian, graduated from UW-Madison.

Popular Science



Popular Science (March 1998) doesn’t say a word about the rescue of SSEC’s AERI instrument (see Fox’s Folly), but it does briefly cover Project SHEBA. The 13-month field experiment studying the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic hopes to provide data to “improve forecasts of global climate change.”

In the Public Eye

Space Grants

For More Information

CIMSS Summer Workshop


Rose Pertzborn and Tom Achtor’s article “A Summer Workshop in Atmospheric, Earth, and Space Sciences” appears in Space Outlook(December 1997), an occasional publication of the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium (WSGC). The summer workshop, now in its sixth year, is hosted by the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) at SSEC and other UW-Madison organizations for about forty Wisconsin high school students and teachers. The workshop provides an intense, interactive science experience in meteorology, geology, remote sensing, and astronomy.

In his final message to WSGC affiliates (also in Space Outlook), outgoing director Gary Moore credits Bill Smith as “one of the original proposal writers” and says that “his ideas and energy have been critical to [WSGC] development.” Bill, on a four-year leave of absence as director of CIMSS, is now chief of NASA Langley Research Center’s Atmospheric Sciences Division. Moore also notes that CIMSS science manager Tom Achtor “will assume posts of Associate Director of Higher Education and of Research Infrastructure.”

The WSGC is based in Milwaukee and funnels NASA funds to students and teachers around the state whose promising research directly relates to NASA’s mission. Jason Dunion, advised by Bill Smith at UW-Madison, won a graduate fellowship for his research into the design of an optical direction finder instrument. Nick Nalli, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, was named a CIMSS/WSGC research assistant for 1996-97 for his work on next-generation sea surface skin temperature retrieval.

CIMSS plays a critical role in the WSGC, with SSEC employees serving on proposal panels and making presentations at WSGC meetings. Bill Smith, Tom Achtor, and Rose Pertzborn all served on the 1997-98 review panel for research awards. Tom and Rose presented a poster and talk on the CIMSS summer workshop at the seventh Annual Wisconsin Space Conference in August. Tom Achtor won a 1997-98 Aerospace Outreach Award for the 1998 summer workshop.