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..

Early Movies of Cassini’s First Dive

May 16, 2017

Still from Cassini’s ‘Porthole’ Movie of Saturn


In preparation for its grand finale plunge into Saturn in mid-September, 2017, the Cassini spacecraft has begun a series of orbits which bring it to within 5,000 miles of the planet’s cloud tops. Its new trajectory allows for the collection of exceptionally high resolution science data that hasn’t been possible since Cassini was first inserted into orbit in 2004. In particular, several movies taken April 26 have been created by the Cassini imaging team of the first, low altitude dive showing the north pole’s hexagonal-shaped jet stream and the spacecraft’s path along the planet’s surface. Future passes will include science and engineering data from the Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) using instrument command sequences created by Team ADNET/SESDA instrument operators and programmers.

SESDA Team Supports Successful Twin Rocket Launches

March 20, 2017

SESDA Team Supports Successful Twin Rocket Launches


SESDA personnel supported the successful launch of twin NASA sounding rockets from the Poker Flat Research Range north of Fairbanks, Alaska on March 2, 2017 into a strong auroral arc. The purpose of this rocket campaign is to study the driving conditions of neutral jets that flow in concert with auroral arcs. SESDA Engineers lead the design and fabrication of a new wire boom system that measures the electric field. This new wire boom system performed flawlessly. SESDA scientists will be heavily involved in the subsequent data analysis which promises to advance the understanding of the coupling between the upper atmosphere and the aurora.

Helioviewer Team Wins Award

January 30, 2017


The SESDA 3 Helioviewer team won an award for Best Graphic Design at the Sciences and Exploration Directorate 2017 Poster Party. The team’s poster highlighed major new features of the Helioviewer project, including sophisticated tools which enable scientists and members of the public to explore and make movies of data from multiple solar and heliospheric instruments.

Earth Sciences Monitoring Ozone Hole

October 28, 2016

Ozone Hole Monitoring 2016
The hole in Earth’s ozone layer that forms over Antarctica each September grew to about 8.9 million square miles in 2016 before starting to recover, according to scientists from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who monitor the annual phenomenon. “This year we saw an ozone hole that was just below average size,” said Paul A. Newman, chief scientist for Earth Sciences at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “What we’re seeing is consistent with our expectation and our understanding of ozone depletion chemistry and stratospheric weather.” At its peak on Sept. 28, 2016, the ozone hole extended across an area nearly three times the size of the continental United States. The average area of the hole observed since 1991 has been roughly 10 million square miles. Team ADNET supports these studies at GSFC through science data analysis, processing of data from EOS Aura and Suomi NPP spacecraft, and through outreach publicizing science results. Excerpted from: http://www.nasa.gov/feature/Goddard/2016/antarctic-ozone-hole-attains-moderate-size/

Juno’s First Close Approach

September 19, 2016

Jupiter's north pole, http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA21030
Jupiter’s north pole, http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA21030

After its orbit insertion on July 4, 2016, NASA’s Juno spacecraft performed its first close approach, or perijove, about Jupiter on August 27, passing only 2,600 miles above Jupiter’s atmosphere. The pass represents the first time all science instruments were on and recording data of the planet, including the magnetic fields instrument suite (MAG). Team ADNET staff are responsible for the creation and validation of MAG command sequences as well as the processing of engineering and science data once the telemetry hits the ground. Data from the MAG will be critical in the testing of models of Jupiter’s magnetosphere and its interaction with nearby moons. The image showing Jupiter’s north pole was taken by the JunoCam camera while still 120,000 miles away and is the first view of the pole from this angle since Pioneer 11’s flyby in 1974.

Juno Successfully Orbiting Jupiter

July 5, 2016

Juno Arrives at Jupiter
After an almost five-year journey to the solar system’s largest planet, NASA’s Juno spacecraft successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit during a 35-minute engine burn on July 4th, 2016. Team ADNET / SESDA is proud to support this New Frontiers mission, which will help unlock the mysteries of Jupiter’s magnetosphere along with the role the planet played in the formation of the solar system. Our staff contributed to the design of Juno’s twin fluxgate magnetometers and will be supporting the analysis of their in-flight performance as well as maintaining the instrument ground data system software and performing critical uplink/downlink activities for the magnetic fields experiment.

Rare Mercury Transit Event Captured Live

May 13, 2016

Image Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO/Genna Duberstein
Image Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO/Genna Duberstein

On May 9th 2016, ADNET scientists and education staff working with over 600 scientists from around the country, the Goddard communications office, and the Goddard Amateur Astronomy Club supported the rare Transit of Mercury. They provided telescope viewing, media interviews, and a social media campaign called “Small Worlds Week.” ADNET web developers successfully live streamed the full transit to the Sun Earth Days/Small Worlds Week website from the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope. They also coordinated with the JSOC data center at Stanford University to retrieve near-real time HD images and video from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) that complemented the ground-based observations. This composite image of Mercury’s journey across the sun was created with visible-light images from the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager on SDO.

Helioviewer 3.0 Released

March 30, 2016

Screenshot from Helioviewer 3.
SESDA developers released a new and completely redesigned version of the Solar and Heliospheric data exploration tool Helioviewer. Helioviewer is a web-based visualization tool based on the JPEG 2000 image compression format which facilitates serving large data volumes in highly compressed, quality-progressive, and region-of-interest based form. Providing rapid and efficient access to high spatial and time resolution data from multiple instruments and other data sources is critically important to supporting scientific discovery. The new tool features a versatile image timeline browse capability, direct connections to science data providers via the Virtual Solar Observatory, and enhanced integration with social media platforms including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest.

SESDA Heliophysics Outreach Extends to Southeast Asia

March 21, 2016

STEM Technology Lead Troy Cline presents a tactile diagram of a solar eclipse to a blind Chief.
STEM Technology Lead Troy Cline jetted to Micronesia in March to support NASA and the Exploratorium in a webcast of the total solar eclipse. Using home-made props and disposable eclipse-glasses and filters, he helped instruct local children and adults on how to view the eclipse safely. A highlight of the event was a tactile diagram of the eclipse which he presented to a head Chief, who is blind. As the Chief felt the alignment, a great smile crossed his face. It was an incredible moment for the team.