Monthly News Summary – May 1997

May 29, 1997 | Abigail Mindock

In the News: May 1997

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

Earth Magazine Visits

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When editors from Earth magazine visited the UW-Madison campus in May, SSEC was one of their stops. Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) scientists Steve Ackerman and Chris Moeller explained cloud studies for NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth and collaboration in developing the MODIS Airborne Simulator. MODIS, NASA’s MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectro-radiometer, provides data about Earth and its features based on observations in 36 visible and infrared bands. The instrument will fly on the first satellite in the Earth Observing System, planned for launch in July 1998.

Jerry Robaidek, an Operations team leader, explained the GOES archive, a collection of satellite data which SSEC has maintained for NOAA since 1978, the year of the World Weather Experiment.

Steve Ackerman demonstrated Vis5D, a software package that allows scientists to visualize their numerical simulations, particularly of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. Vis5D was developed by SSEC’s Bill Hibbard and is available for Unix users free on the Web.

SSEC in Print

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A new University of Wisconsin-Madison publication notes SSEC’s meteorological satellite activities, mentioning the invention of the spin-scan camera and showing a color-enhanced image of Hurricane Andrew. These references are found in the Research section of a booklet that serves as an introduction and overview of the University. Copies are available for $2.00 from University News and Public Affairs, 28 Bascom Hall, 500 Lincoln Drive, Madison, WI 53706-1380; or call (608) 262-3571.

The WINter Cloud Experiment is featured in a new one-page user profile published by Persoft, Inc. The profile focuses on the Persoft product, Intersect™ Remote Bridge, used to wirelessly move data between SSEC and Truax field, where WINCE took place in January and February 1997. Using NASA’s high-flying, ER-2 research plane, SSEC scientists intensively studied winter clouds and snow to improve their detection with future satellite instruments.

The Earth Observer magazine, January/February 1997, summarizes papers presented at the “International Land-Surface Temperature Workshop” in September 1996. Among them is one by CIMSS scientists comparing high spatial resolution instruments, such as the MODIS Airborne Simulator (MAS), and high spectral resolution instruments, such as the High-resolution Interferometer Sounder (HIS).

Teaching and Outreach

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Sanjay Limaye continues to educate school kids about the space program. He and Rosalyn Pertzborn have developed a lesson plan for NASA’s KidSat project and successfully tested it at Madison’s Spring Harbor Middle School. The project allows students to remotely control space shuttle-based cameras and use global satellite images to study Earth’s environment. The KidSat program office is evaluating Sanjay’s lesson plan for use in other schools.

Sanjay and Rose are now working with UW-Madison’s College Access Program with funding from the School of Education to involve 12- and 13-year-olds in the Mars unmanned exploration program. The Planetary Society provides a package allowing participants to build model-sized Mars Rovers from Legos™ and to interact with other schools over the Internet. (NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory provides a “grown-up” take on the Mars Pathfinder Sojourner Rover at their Web site.) Sanjay and Rose will implement the program at Lincoln School in June. Sounds suspiciously like fun.

Steve Ackerman was one of 15 presenters at the symposium “Teaching and Learning with Technology,” which took place May 22-23 at UW-Madison’s Grainger Hall. Steve presented his use of Vis5D in visualizing atmospheric phenomena. The other 14 presentations covered UW-Madison disciplines including psychology, art, geology, languages, and neurophysiology.

Many other SSEC employees also share their expertise with the community. Recent activities include a talk at a 4-H camp, a workshop in atmospheric science for a teen summer enrichment program, correspondence with elementary school children, lectures at the Space Astronomy Laboratory’s Space Place, and presentations to Madison’s Technical Club. SSEC also sponsors an annual earth science workshop and, for a second year, will host a group of high-school interns in NASA’s Summer High school Apprenticeship Research Program.

SSEC on the Airwaves

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The Discovery Channel featured meteorological technology in their weekly television program Discover Magazine on May 14. The segment, “Through the Eye of the Storm,” covered the 45th Space Wing at the Cape Canaveral Forecast Facility, which forecasts weather for space shuttle launches. The story emphasized the role of Johnny Weems, launch weather officer and a member of the McIDAS Users Group. Johnny was shown with the facility’s McIDAS system, the Man computer Interactive Data Access System, in nearly every shot. That segment began by describing how weather may have figured in the Challenger disaster.

Cindy Krause, WISC2 Cable TV, interviewed Sanjay Limaye for the May 20 evening news program. Sanjay discussed Mars and KidSat.