Parker probe “first light”

September 21, 2018

Launched in August 2018, the Parker Solar Probe will travel closer to the Sun than any previous spacecraft and will greatly aid in our understanding of solar processes. All instruments have now been powered-on, and the four instrument suites onboard have been confirmed to be working well. A SESDA programmer participated in this “first-light” event and was responsible for retrieving, decommutating, and processing science and housekeeping telemetry from the FIELDS fluxgate magnetometer experiment.

SESDA Heliophysics Outreach Team Join Historic Journey to Touch the Sun

August 27, 2018

Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Parker Solar Probe mission successfully launched at 3:31 a.m. EST on August 12 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. This ambitious mission will use seven gravity assists from Venus to ultimately travel within 4 million miles of the Sun’s surface to obtain unique observations of the corona. SESDA Heliophysics outreach staff supporting the Goddard Office of Communications and the Space Science Education Consortium (NSSEC) traveled to the launch where they conducted media events, interviews, and demonstrations at a NASA booth.

Goddard Division Awards

July 10, 2018

GOES-R launch
Haley Reed received a Goddard Code 100 Peer Award from the Center Director on July 10, 2018. Here is an excerpt from her citation: “Haley is a team player and capable manager, even when she’s faced with new or intensified situations. During the Parker Solar Probe Media Day, Haley’s resourcefulness and can-do attitude ensured a seamless and successful event. She handles media requests of all kinds with patience and care, ensuring that NASA Goddard science is shared with the world in meaningful ways every single day”.

Michelle Smith received a Code 400 Peer Award. An excerpt from her citation reads: “…Michelle Smith was the focal point of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) – R Series communications team over the past year during which the Program put the first GOES-R satellite into operational service; brought dozens of meteorological and environmental data products into use for forecasters; and launched the second satellite of the series, GOES-S…Thanks to Michelle’s efforts, GOES-R has more than 35,000 Facebook followers and our content has reached over 7,000,000 people!”

Juno Provides Infrared Tour of Jupiter’s North Pole

May 8, 2018

Revealed at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna, Austria, and now featured at NASA’s Juno website, Juno scientists with the magnetometer suite of instruments presented a detailed view of the planetary dynamo responsible for Jupiter’s magnetic field. Supporting the important new findings are ADNET uplink and downlink instrument operators who successfully commanded the onboard fluxgate magnetometers and Advanced Stellar Cameras through 12 perijoves and calibrated the science and housekeeping telemetry used in the study.

Super Blue Blood Moon Outreach

February 12, 2018

With January providing a rare super blue blood moon eclipse event, a SESDA 4 outreach coordinator made full use of the opportunity to share lunar science with a very curious public. Activities she used for public engagement included news features on Twitter with a twitter feed interaction between @NASAEarth and @NASAMoon and a moderated Facebook Live event which reached 828,100 individuals. Of special note was a Reddit Ask Me Anything session on January 29 featuring Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) scientists which made the home page of Reddit and generated over 1,640 comments.

Heliophysics Highlights from the American Geophysical Union Meeting

February 1, 2018

The SESDA Heliophysics group was involved in numerous paper and poster presentations at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in New Orleans Louisiana in December 2017. The meeting was marked by a keynote speech by veteran news anchor Dan Rather. The group’s presentations spanned a diverse range of topics that included: highlights of the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse across America which was the most viewed eclipse in history; 3D visualization of the Sun using observations from the upcoming Parker Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter missions; a community-developed open-source Python software library (SunPy) for analyzing solar data; the novel detection of quasi-periodic pulsations in the Earth’s ionosphere that are synchronized with solar activity; and anticipated results from the FOXSI SMEX mission that combines state-of-the-art grazing-incidence focusing optics with pixilated solid-state detectors to provide direct imaging of hard X-rays in solar flares.

SESDA Science Writers Publicize New Results from OCO-2

January 12, 2018

SESDA science writers developed and published a feature story that provides an overview of how high-resolution satellite data from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 are revealing the subtle ways that carbon links everything on Earth – the ocean, land, atmosphere, terrestrial ecosystems and human activities. Scientists using the first 2 1/2 years of OCO-2 data have published a special collection of five papers in the journal Science that demonstrates the breadth of this research. In addition to showing how drought and heat in tropical forests affected global carbon dioxide levels during the 2015-16 El Niño, other results from these papers focus on ocean carbon release and absorption, urban emissions and a new way to study photosynthesis. The image shows variations in CO2 over LA and the nearby desert. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Google Earth

SESDA Team Member Wins Award

December 19, 2017

Michelle Smith, ADNET’s lead communications specialist for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES)-R team, was a recipient of the U.S. Department of Commerce 2017 Outstanding Support and Employee of the Year award for “dedication and creativity in driving public interest in the mission and supporting media engagement to ensure that the public is well informed of the benefits of GOES-R.” She was also a recent recipient of the prestigious Robert H. Goddard Exceptional Achievement Award for Outreach.

WMAP Team Wins Breakthrough Prize

December 7, 2017

On December 3, 2017, the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) science team was awarded the 2018 Breakthrough Prize for Fundamental Physics ( The WMAP team, led by Dr. Charles Bennett of Johns Hopkins University, was an international team of 27 scientists and includes the following current or former ADNET employees: Michael Greason, Robert S. Hill, Michele Limon, Nils Odegard and Janet Weiland.

WMAP launched on June 30, 2001. Over the course of its nine year mission, it mapped the residual radiation emitted 375,000 years after the Big Bang across the entire sky. The science team used this information to measure the age (13.77 billion years), composition (4.6% atoms, 24% dark matter, 71.4% dark energy) and shape (flat) of the universe. Further information can be found at

The Total Solar Eclipse of 2017

August 28, 2017

Over the last three years, SESDA staff comprising the NASA Heliophysics Education Consortium (HEC) has been planning and designing the largest education event that NASA has ever attempted – the August 21st, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse. Staff scientists, computer system professionals, web developers, education technology specialists, and educators successfully brought the event to fruition in Carbondale, IL for a weekend of eclipse programs and celebrations at Southern Illinois University culminating with a 4 hour NASA EDGE webcast. SESDA staff coordinated the efforts of over 100 NASA and external groups, 300 Subject Matter Experts, and 94 official NASA eclipse sites around the country. Preliminary results indicate over five billion web hits and 200 TB of downloaded data..