Parker Solar Probe First Data Release

November 21, 2019

(Image: © Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory)
An artist’s depiction of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe gathering data about the sun
(Image: © Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory)
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission released its first set of data following two close passes of the Sun in 2018 and 2019. SESDA staff in the Space Physics Data Facility (SPDF) played critical roles in ensuring that available data could be readily accessed and retrieved from its archives via the CDAWeb system. They worked closely with instrument providers to test and validate data sets, and developed custom display software to facilitate analysis and discovery.

The Heliophysics STEM Innovation Lab on TED

A special shout out to SESDA’s Troy Cline for an illuminating invited TED-x talk on Space Science and Education at Chandigarh, India. As the director of the Heliophysics STEM Innovation Lab, Troy highlighted NASA’s involvement in supporting international outreach events such as the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse and in using novel technologies such as Virtual Reality to advance public awareness and understanding of science and engineering.

Science on Fire

September 25, 2019

Kudos to Leslie Garrison from the MMS Outreach group on a highly professional hosting of NASA Science Live: A World of Fires which highlighted NASA’s critical involvement in studying extreme forest fires and their impact on ecosystems and populations.

GIFT Keeps On Giving

September 13, 2019

The Goddard Instrument Field Team (GIFT) performs research campaigns at geologic areas that are similar to locations on other planets and moons. In August, as the team took measurements of lava tubes and landscapes formed by the Mauna Loa volcano, SESDA’s Molly Wasser traveled with them and created Twitter and Facebook posts sharing their science and giving the public a first-hand account of research in the field.

The Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) Mission in Mixed Reality

April 15, 2019

MMS Mixed Reality demonstration
SESDA education and outreach staff supporting the MMS mission and NASA’s Space Science Education Consortium (NSSEC) joined forces with NASA EDGE at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia to produce a demonstration dubbed the “Mixed Reality” live show. By utilizing virtual reality (VR) and a new compositing technique called Mixed Reality, this innovative live show allowed the audience to participate and interact in real-time with each other and a virtual MMS spacecraft. The demonstration was streamed live via Facebook podcast at the NASA EDGE video page.

High-speed network demonstrated at SuperComputing 2018

March 1, 2019

Bill Fink presenting work of the SESDA HECN task at the SuperComputing 2018 (SC18) event in Dallas, TX in November 2018.

SESDA’s HECN team collaborated with various partners (Mid-Atlantic Crossroads (MAX), Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), StarLight optical network exchange facility, CenturyLink, SCinet) to create a multi-100-GigE network topology for live demos at SuperComputing 2018 (SC18) in Dallas, TX. This included 4×100-GigE network paths between NASA Goddard and SC18, 2×100-GigE network paths between StarLight and SC18, and 2×100-GigE network paths between NASA Goddard and StarLight. At SC18 they demonstrated the use of NVMe over Fabric (NVMe-oF) technology using internet Wide Area RDMA Protocol (iWARP) across a 4×100-GigE network infrastructure as a SCinet Network Research Experiment (NRE).
This showcased very high performance disk-to-disk network data transfers between a single pair of high performance NVMe servers, one at NASA Goddard and one at SC18, with a very low level of system CPU utilization and achieved an aggregate throughput of about 130 Gigabits per second (Gbps). They also performed more traditional network data transfers using the normal Linux TCP/IP network stack, which achieved an aggregate throughput of almost 200 Gbps while totally consuming all of the system CPU resources.

SESDA Engineers Help Deliver an Early Xmas Present

December 27, 2018

On 7 December 2018, the VISIONS-2 suborbital rocket pair successfully launched from Svalbard, Norway. The two rockets launched two minutes apart with sophisticated instrumentation designed to study ion outflow in the geomagnetic cusp. SESDA engineers in the Heliophysics Science Division played multifaceted roles in ensuring the success of the mission that ranged from designing and building key electrical and mechanical instrument components, performing critical integration and testing, and providing onsite launch support. Congratulations on a job well done!

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.