Monthly News Summary – July 1997

July 29, 1997 | Abigail Mindock

In the News: July 1997

A record of SSEC media appearances compiled for July 1997. Direct comments, questions, and information about other SSEC references to Terri Gregory, SSEC’s Public Information Specialist.

Mir and Mars

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As space experts, SSEC staff are often asked to comment about events not directly related to Center projects. Evan Richards appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Tom Clark Show with substitute host John Munson on Friday, June 27. The morning call-in show focused on safety in space, particularly in light of the recent accident on the Mir space station when a module was damaged, endangering the lives of Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut. Evan gave a broad background on the cooperation between the United States and Russia in space and explained what a hostile environment space is. To the question, “Why do we do it?” Evan countered, “We always accept danger if what we want to do is worthwhile.” He drew the analogy to entering a burning building only if a loved one were trapped inside. The show drew many callers including Tommy Bartlett, who invited people to visit his copy of the Mir in Robot World at Wisconsin Dells.

SSEC was not directly involved with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Mars Pathfinder program, but local interest was so high that planetary scientist Sanjay Limaye and other SSEC folks pooled their expertise to help out. Sanjay and visiting high school student Elizabeth Sanchez appeared in the lead story on WKOW-TV’s July 7 local newscast. They discussed their reactions to the Mars Pathfinder landing. Elizabeth is at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in NASA’s Summer High School Apprenticeship Research Program. She’s helping with Sanjay’s education and outreach efforts, including June’s Red Rover program.

Sanjay also appeared on WISC-TV’s Saturday morning show July 5 and on WHA-TV’s Weekend show on July 11 explaining Pathfinder activities and results.

SSEC in Print

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The May issue of Weather Satellite Report shows a Delta rocket exploding shortly after launch on January 17, spreading toxic gasses across south central Florida. Gary Wade, CIMSS meteorologist, provided the satellite images to meteorological consultant Hank Brandli, who lives in the area and watched the cloud move overhead.

The first secondary school outside Wisconsin to use McIDAS is featured in the Spring/Summer Unidata Newsletter. The Taft School, a secondary school in Connecticut, was sponsored by a local university to qualify as a Unidata McIDAS user. Students and teachers now have access to much more satellite imagery than that offered on the Web. Author Jonathan Bernon chronicles the many steps Taft had to take to achieve licensing, installation and, finally, use.

SSEC on the ‘Net

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People around the globe say they depend on the SSEC Web pages. Wes Sanders, a pilot on Okinawa, wrote to Tim Olander in the CIMSS Tropical Cyclone group, “You have no idea the peace of mind your site gives my family. We can rest easy or prepare appropriately depending on what comes up… I use your site before a mission to get that ‘warm fuzzy’ before launch. Lots of folks here in Okinawa depend on your work… We’ve got lots of friends that use this site: Guam, Philippines, Korea, mainland Japan.”

In a plaintive, yet appreciative, email message, John Thomlinson, of the University of Puerto Rico, requested that SSEC update its sea surface temperature maps. John said, “Yours is the best-presented world SST map I’ve seen, but the current one is for April 20, 1997. For those of us in ‘hurricane alley,’ this kind of information is very valuable for planning our field work (not to mention bringing in plants and tying down the pets).” SSEC Webmaster Russell Hall says, “We’re pleased to tell John and all the other SST users that the product is back on line in its usual place. The National Centers for Environmental Prediction have finished upgrading their computer system, so we’re again receiving the data which helps us make the images. Thanks very much for your patience.”

Teaching and Outreach

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The Solar Irradiation team at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies is using information from Steve Ackerman’s WxWise Web page to develop a new Web materials. The new radiation Web page is being put together by minority high school and college students working with NASA scientists. This outreach program, the Institute on Climate and Planets, involves students with research opportunities in current NASA climate and planetary investigations.

For the past several years, SSEC has given tours to students attending the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, just one of many groups that tour the center throughout the year. This year, along with the thank you note we receive regularly, we also received news that the regional symposium competition winner, Efrat Lelkes of Nicolet High School in Milwaukee, won the national competition. Efrat received a $20,000 scholarship and a trip to London University for the International Youth Science Forum. The national and regional symposiums are sponsored by the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force. Efrat won for her work on The Effects of Elevated Glucose Levels on Neuronal Cells.

Capital Times reporter Gwen Carleton covered the Red Rover project July 4 to coincide with the Pathfinder landing on Mars. She focused on Sanjay Limaye’s role in bringing a little piece of the Mars Pathfinder project to Madison. For two weeks in June, fourteen seventh and eighth graders spent mornings building Mars terrain and vehicles at Lincoln School on Madison’s south side. The Red Rover program will be used at Lincoln this fall in teacher David Wirth’s fourth and fifth grade science classes.