Voyager 2 May Soon Be Joining Its Twin in Interstellar Space

October 29, 2018

In 2012, Voyager 1, one of a pair of deep-space probes launched in 1977, crossed into a part of space no other spacecraft had ever seen: the interstellar medium. At over 11 billion miles from the Sun, crucial changes were detected in the data Voyager 1 was sending back to Earth – key observations to show that Voyager 1 was entering interstellar space. The planets in the solar system are surrounded by an outpouring of material from the Sun, called the solar wind, which creates a giant bubble called the heliosphere. Eventually, the solar wind peters out, held back by the wind coming from other stars – and this is the boundary that Voyager 1 crossed. High energy particles are known to originate outside our heliosphere and don’t easily penetrate. Observation of an increase in flux of such particles is a strong indication that the boundary has been crossed. Data from the Cosmic Ray Subsystem (CRS) instrument on the spacecraft showed this increase at Voyager 1 and the CRS on Voyager 2 is now seeing the same effect. The image shown an artist’s drawing of the respective locations of the spacecraft. A SESDA staff member is responsible for processing the CRS data and assisting with data analysis. [Excerpted from]

SESDA Scientist Spots a Rare Rectangular Iceberg

October 25, 2018

NASA’s longest-running aerial survey of polar ice flew over the northern Antarctic Peninsula on Oct. 16, 2018. During the survey, designed to assess changes in the ice height of several glaciers draining into the Larsen A, B and C embayments, IceBridge senior support scientist Jeremy Harbeck spotted a very sharp-angled, tabular iceberg floating among sea ice just off of the Larsen C ice shelf. A photo of the iceberg (below) was widely shared after it was posted on social media. “I thought it was pretty interesting; I often see icebergs with relatively straight edges, but I’ve not really seen one before with two corners at such right angles like this one had,” Harbeck said. The rectangular iceberg appeared to be freshly calved from Larsen C, which in July 2017 released the massive A68 iceberg, a chunk of ice about the size of the state of Delaware. The flight originated from Punta Arenas, Chile, as part of a five-week-long IceBridge deployment, which began Oct. 10 and is scheduled to conclude Nov. 18. [Excerpted from]

SESDA Team Supports New Immersive Scientific Visualization System

October 23, 2018

The Heliophysics Science Division (HSD) recently unveiled a new immersive projection system for displaying scientific visualizations. The system (dubbed the WoW room) provides a valuable new resource for showcasing the diverse projects performed within the HSD to visitors and management. The room consists of a 180 degree, 10×20 foot floor to ceiling curved screen along with four projectors and a custom computer. SESDA team members are actively involved in managing the system and helping provide content. At a recent open house, Division scientists and support personnel had a first opportunity to experience the system and explore its capabilities via demonstrations of the SESDA-developed Helioviewer visualization tool.

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