SESDA Team Supports Two Successful Sounding Rocket Launches

November 20, 2023

Congratulations to SESDA engineers and their colleagues in the Ionospheric, Thermospheric, Mesospheric (ITM) Physics Laboratory (Code 675) for their support of two successful sounding rocket launches from Poker Flats, Alaska. The first rocket (Dissipation, top image) launched on November 8th to study how solar wind charged particles dissipate their energy in the high latitude ionosphere-thermosphere. The second rocket (Beam-Plasma Interactions or BeamPI below) launched on November 9th to study how charged particles created by a pulsed electron beam rain down along Earth’s magnetic field lines. SESDA personnel played critical roles in the design and development of each rocket’s intricate payloads which included fabricating hardware components, performing integration and testing (I&T), and traveling to Poker Flats to support launch operations.

SESDA Team Supports the October 14, 2023 Annular Solar Eclipse

October 26, 2023

Congratulations to the SESDA Heliophysics Education Activation Team (HEAT) and its partners for their extraordinary support of the annular solar eclipse event on October 14, 2023. Team members traveled to Albuquerque NM where they organized and implemented educational activities for numerous enthusiastic participants visiting the NASA tent at the 2023 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The team received accolades from NASA/HQ for their superior coordination and real-time troubleshooting, including comments such as “LOVED working side by side with the HEAT team! they were so passionate and willing to teach us about all the educational activities. It was a wonderful experience.”

ADNET personnel played key roles in the creation of the NASA HQ Earth Information Center in Washington

July 19, 2023

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, center, cuts the ribbon to open NASA’s Earth Information Center alongside agency leadership and leadership from NOAA, USGS, USDA, USAID, EPA, and FEMA, Wednesday, June 21, 2023, at the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building in Washington.  Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

The Earth Information Center (EIC), located in the east lobby of the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building in Washington opened its doors to both NASA personnel and the public following a ribbon cutting ceremony led by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson on June 21.

The EIC allows visitors to see how the planet is changing in ways that affect their lives through large, awe-inspiring visualizations, interactive media, and narratives designed to educate and motivate. The EIC is open from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM Monday through Friday. For more information about the Earth Information Center, visit

SESDA personnel collaborated with science visualizers, artists, scientists, audio visual engineers, architects, construction workers, and craftspeople, providing systems engineering, networking, and logistical support during the creation of the NASA Headquarters Earth Information Center. SESDA personnel continue to support the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the EIC and provide docent services to Center visitors.

GISS Hosts GSFC Leadership

December 28, 2022

GISS has been in the news again – 2 weeks after supporting the NASA administrator’s visit, GISS hosted GSFC leadership including Dennis Andrucyk, the Director of GSFC. ADNET staff and GISS’ FOM Sabrina Hosein organized both visits, improvising a presentation space in the midst of our building renovations that showed GISS in its best light.

SESDA Supports Artemis I Mission

December 12, 2022

The Moon to Mars (M2M) Space Weather Analysis Office is supporting the Artemis I mission by monitoring space weather conditions and providing expert analysis to NASA’s Space Radiation Analysis Group (SRAG). M2M is running various models and software as part of the Integrated Solar Energetic Proton Alert/Warning System (ISEP) project and has a dedicated space weather analyst who is monitoring and interpreting the model outputs around the clock. SESDA staff and M2M partners are providing 24/7 support to ensure that these models are running properly and ensuring that any downtime is minimal, so that there are continuous space weather analyses in support of the mission.

ADNET staff supported NASA Administrator Bill Nelson’s visit to GISS in New York

November 14, 2022

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson visiting GISS

SESDA staff set up and monitored a climate-focused All Hands meeting held at GISS with NASA’s Administrator Bill Nelson and ensured that all went smoothly. Turnout was over 60 people.

Tweet featuring Bill Nelson's visit to GISS

ADNET Scientists Analyze Micronesian Phytoplankton

September 28, 2022

Cover of Earth journal issue featuring Phytoplankton Bloom analysis

ADNET scientists Jim Acker and Alexis Hunzinger recently authored a study that was featured on the cover of the journal Earth. In October 2013, ocean color remote sensing data acquired by the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite showed a unique elevated phytoplankton chlorophyll feature extending eastward from Chuuk Lagoon in the Federated States of Micronesia. Analysis of Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA-2) windspeed and wind direction data, enabled with the NASA Giovanni system, indicated that alternating high and low windspeed periods, combined with seasonal wind directions and the physiography of the atoll, likely created ideal surface ocean conditions for a phytoplankton bloom in and adjacent to the lagoon. Light availability for photosynthesis may also have contributed to bloom timing and development.

SESDA Assists Lava Tube Modeling

June 30, 2022

Screenshot of NASA Expeditions tweet. Text: Welcome to Golden Dome! Like most caves here at Lava Beds National Monument, this one follows the path of an ancient lava flow. Over time, some parts of the underground tunnel have collapsed, creating entrances like this one.

In support of NASA’s Goddard Instrument Field Team (GIFT), SESDA’s Caela Barry acted as the logistics and public engagement lead during a May field trip to California’s Medicine Lake Volcano and Lava Beds National Monument. While there, the team used instrumentation such as magnetometers, LIDAR, and ground penetrating radar to locate, map, and characterize several lava tubes. The results of their measurements will serve as baseline processes and terrestrial analogs for similar Lunar and Martian volcanic terrains. During the trip, Caela posted the team’s activities and progress on the @NASAExpeditions (Twitter) and @NASAEarth (Instagram) accounts, with each account receiving hundreds of thousands of impressions. While at the site, Caela also distributed outreach materials and hosted interactive presentations for the park’s rangers and visitors.

SESDA Team Investigates Betelgeuse Surface Mass Ejection

June 14, 2022

STEREO Ahead Contributes to Study of Historic Betelgeuse Dimming

The Astrophysical Journal has accepted for publication the paper, “The Great Dimming of Betelgeuse: A Surface Mass Ejection (SME) and its Consequences” by Dupree et al. The paper analyzed special data taken by the SESDA team using the SECCHI/HI-2 telescope on STEREO Ahead, taking advantage of the spacecraft’s unique position, and rolling by 180°, to observe Betelgeuse when it could not easily be observed from Earth. The paper concludes that a substantial surface mass ejection (SME) occurred and moved out through the extended atmosphere of the supergiant. Following the SME, Betelgeuse was left with a cooler average photosphere, an unusual short photometric oscillation, reduced velocity excursions, and the disappearance of the ~400-day pulsation in the optical and radial velocity for more than two years following the Great Dimming. The first indication that Betelgeuse was affected by the SME was provided by the SECCHI observations.

SESDA Supports Successful Rocket Launch From Norway

June 3, 2022

Endurance rocket launch

Congratulations to NASA/GSFC and its partners on the successful launch of the Endurance suborbital rocket on May 10, 2022 at from Ny-Ålesund in Svalbard, Norway. Despite numerous challenges that included blizzard weather conditions, delayed shipments of essential flight hardware, a snow mobile accident, and an extensive COVID-19 outbreak at the launch base, the team bravely persevered with resolving last minute technical problems in time for a narrow launch window of low solar and geomagnetic activity. SESDA instrument engineers provided critical support to the development, integration, and testing of the E-field booms and Dual Electrostatic Analyzers (DESA) which are vital to achieving the mission’s primary goal of measuring the Earth’s weak global electric potential.