NASA Launches Small Climate Satellite to Study Earth’s Poles

NASA Launches Small Climate Satellite to Study Earth’s Poles

Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 1 at Māhia, New Zealand at 7:41 p.m. NZST May 25, 2024 (3:41 a.m. EDT) carrying a small satellite for NASA’s PREFIRE (Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment) mission.
Rocket Lab

The first of a pair of climate satellites designed to study heat emissions at Earth’s poles for NASA is in orbit after lifting off atop Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket from the company’s Launch Complex 1 in Māhia, New Zealand at 7:41 p.m. NZST (3:41 a.m. EDT) on Saturday.

The agency’s PREFIRE (Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment) mission consists of two shoebox-size cube satellites, or CubeSats, that will measure the amount of heat Earth radiates into space from two of the coldest, most remote regions on the planet. Data from the PREFIRE mission will help researchers better predict how Earth’s ice, seas, and weather will change in a warming world.

“NASA’s innovative PREFIRE mission will fill a gap in our understanding of the Earth system – providing our scientists a detailed picture of how Earth’s polar regions influence how much energy our planet absorbs and releases,” said Karen St. Germain, director of NASA’s Earth Science Division in Washington. “This will improve prediction of sea ice loss, ice sheet melt, and sea level rise, creating a better understanding of how our planet’s system will change in the coming years — crucial information to farmers tracking changes in weather and water, fishing fleets working in changing seas, and coastal communities building resilience.”

Ground controllers successfully established communications with the CubeSat at 8:48 EDT. The second PREFIRE CubeSat will set off on its own Electron rocket from Launch Complex 1 in the coming days. Following a 30-day checkout period during which engineers and scientists will make sure both CubeSats are working normally, the mission is expected to operate for 10 months.

At the heart of the PREFIRE mission is Earth’s energy budget – the balance between incoming heat energy from the Sun and the outgoing heat given off by the planet. The difference between the two is what determines the planet’s temperature and climate. A lot of the heat radiated from the Arctic and Antarctica is emitted as far-infrared radiation, but there is currently no detailed measurement of this type of energy.

The water vapor content of the atmosphere, along with the presence, structure, and composition of clouds, influences the amount of far-infrared radiation that escapes into space from Earth’s poles. Data collected from PREFIRE will give researchers information on where and when far-infrared energy radiates from the Arctic and Antarctic environments into space.

“The PREFIRE CubeSats may be small, but they’re going to close a big gap in our knowledge about Earth’s energy budget,” said Laurie Leshin, director, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “Their observations will help us understand the fundamentals of Earth’s heat balance, allowing us to better predict how our ice, seas, and weather will change in the face of global warming.”

The mission’s CubeSats each carry an instrument called a thermal infrared spectrometer, which use specially shaped mirrors and sensors to measure infrared wavelengths. Miniaturizing the instruments to fit on CubeSats necessitated downsizing some parts while scaling up other components.

“Our planet is changing quickly, and in places like the Arctic, in ways that people have never experienced before,” said Tristan L’Ecuyer, PREFIRE’s principal investigator, University of Wisconsin, Madison. “NASA’s PREFIRE will give us new measurements of the far-infrared wavelengths being emitted from Earth’s poles, which we can use to improve climate and weather models and help people around the world deal with the consequences of climate change.”

NASA’s Launch Services Program, based out of the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, in partnership with NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder Program is providing the launch service as part of the agency’s Venture-class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare (VADR) launch services contract.

The PREFIRE mission was jointly developed by NASA and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. NASA JPL manages the mission for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate and provided the spectrometers. Blue Canyon Technologies built the CubeSats and the University of Wisconsin-Madison will process the data the instruments collect. The launch services provider is Rocket Lab USA Inc. of Long Beach, California.

To learn more about PREFIRE, visit:

https://science.nasa.gov/mission/prefire/

-end-

Karen Fox / Elizabeth Vlock

Headquarters, Washington

202-358-1600 / 202-358-1600

karen.c.fox@nasa.gov / elizabeth.a.vlock@nasa.gov

Jane J. Lee / Andrew Wang

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

818-354-0307 / 626-379-6874

jane.j.lee@jpl.nasa.gov / andrew.wang@jpl.nasa.gov

Share

Details

Last Updated

May 25, 2024

Editor
Jennifer M. Dooren

Powered by WPeMatico

Get The Details…
Jennifer M. Dooren

NASA TACP Team Visits with UCF Students, Faculty

NASA TACP Team Visits with UCF Students, Faculty

1 min read

Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)

Eleven people stand side-by-side posing for a group picture. They represent participants of NASA's University Leadership Initiative (ULI).
Representatives of NASA’s Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program (TACP) pose with students and faculty from the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando who are participating in the agency’s University Leadership Initiative (ULI). From left: Ramees Khaleel Rahman; John Cavolowsky, NASA’s Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program director; Marc Heinrich; Andrew Provenza, NASA’s University Innovation deputy project manager for tchnology; Connor Wall; Lucas Cavalcante; Andrew Menendez; Jayanta Kapat, principal investigator of UCF’s ULI project; Claire-Phonie Silaire; Koushik Datta, NASA’s University Innovation project manager; Marcel Otto, UCF’s ULI project manager.

Representatives of NASA’s Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program (TACP) recently shared information about their work to develop innovation and advance aviation and space exploration with students at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

Here are some images of the event showing NASA team members interacting with students and faculty during the April Town Hall.

TACP at UCF Image Carousel

Share

Details

Last Updated

May 24, 2024

Editor
Jim Banke
Contact
Jim Banke

Powered by WPeMatico

Get The Details…
Jim Banke

HiCAM 2024 Spring Review

HiCAM 2024 Spring Review

1 min read

Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)

A large group of composite researchers assembled in a courtyard looking up at the photographer.
Composites Consortium team members gathered during May 2024 at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia for a technical review of all tasks in progress for the Hi-Rate Composite Aircraft Manufacturing project.

NASA and its partners in the Advanced Composites Consortium gathered at the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, May 7-9.

Team members from 20 organizations across the country recently discussed progress on all technology development tasks underway in NASA’s Hi-Rate Composite Aircraft Manufacturing (HiCAM) project. The project is competing manufacturing approaches that reduce labor, equipment, and tooling costs without compromising strength or safety.

Results will help determine which technologies will have the greatest impact on the manufacturing rate and allow downselect for the demonstration phase of the project beginning this fall.

The HiCAM project addresses an aviation industry need for more rapid production of composite aircraft to meet increasing global demand for lightweight transport aircraft.

Share

Details

Last Updated

May 24, 2024

Editor
Jim Banke
Contact
Jim Banke

Powered by WPeMatico

Get The Details…
Jim Banke

NASA Engages in Artemis Accords Workshop to Advance Exploration

NASA Engages in Artemis Accords Workshop to Advance Exploration

Representatives from 24 of the Artemis Accords signatories met May 21-23, 2024, for a workshop hosted at the John H. Chapman Space Centre (CSA Headquarters) in Longueuil, Quebec.
CSA (Canadian Space Agency)

NASA participated in the second international face-to-face workshop this week among Artemis Accords signatories, which featured space officials from two dozen nations focused on advancing the principles for the safe, peaceful, and responsible exploration of the Moon, Mars and beyond. This year’s workshop was hosted by CSA (Canadian Space Agency) at their headquarters in Montreal May 21-23.

Since the Artemis Accords were created nearly four years ago, 39 countries have joined the United States in a voluntary commitment to engage in transparent and responsible behavior in space. The accords are meant to push humanity’s reach farther safely and sustainably into space than ever before and build on more than 23 years of continuous human presence aboard the International Space Station.

“The Artemis Accords represent a shared vision for humanity’s exploration of space —one that transcends borders and fosters unity in our quest to expand our understanding of the cosmos,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy, who participated virtually to jointly kick-off the workshop with CSA President Lisa Campbell. “The days of going to space alone are long over. We are in a new age where nations globally go to space to both explore deeper and gain better understanding about our place in the universe.”

During workshop, participants from 24 countries engaged in robust discussions and conducted a tabletop exercise centered on further defining and implementing key tenets, including considering views on non-interference, interoperability, and scientific data sharing among nations.

“The Artemis Accords are an important part of humanity’s future in space and Canada is very much committed to these principles. As we explore beyond Earth, we must do so in ways that are safe and sustainable, for the benefit of humanity and future generations. It was an honour to welcome brilliant minds from around the world to discuss how to conduct present and future space exploration activities safely, sustainably, and transparently through the application of the Artemis Accords,” said Campbell.

For example, during the workshop participants delved more deeply into topics such as non-interference and interoperability. These discussions build upon prior work such as an initial set of mission data parameters agreed to by the signatories last October. The data parameters identify necessary information about planned lunar surface missions including expected launch dates, the general nature of activities, and the landing location.

Sharing such information will support safer lunar operations by ensuring signatories respective missions do not inadvertently interfere with each other. Transparency and communication are keys to peaceful exploration, and the Artemis Accords signatories are committed to sharing information about their activities and outcomes through the United Nations of Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) and other appropriate channels.

The commitments undertaken under the Artemis Accords, and the significant efforts by the signatories to advance implementation of these principles, are essential to the success of the Artemis campaign for NASA and its partners, as well as for the success of the safe and sustainable exploration activities of the other Accords signatories.

As the Artemis Accords workshop concluded May 23, participants reaffirmed their commitment to upholding the principles outlined in the Artemis Accords and to continue working collaboratively. The first workshop was hosted by Poland in 2023. Additional countries are expected to sign the Artemis Accords in the weeks and months ahead. Signatory principals will gather again for face-to-face discussions on the margins of the International Astronautical Congress in October.

The United States and seven other nations were the first to sign the Artemis Accords in 2020, which identified an early set of principles that promote the beneficial use of space for all humanity, grounded in the Outer Space Treaty and other agreements including the Registration Convention, the Rescue and Return Agreement, as well as best practices and norms of responsible behavior that NASA and its partners have supported, including the public release of scientific data.

For more information about the Artemis Accords, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/artemis-accords/

-end-

Amber Jacobson / Jennifer Dooren
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1600
amber.c.jacobson@nasa.gov / jennifer.m.dooren@nasa.gov

Share

Details

Last Updated

May 24, 2024

Editor
Jennifer M. Dooren

Powered by WPeMatico

Get The Details…
Jennifer M. Dooren

Jennifer Scott Williams: Leading the Next Giant Leap in Space Exploration and Championing STEM Advocacy

Jennifer Scott Williams: Leading the Next Giant Leap in Space Exploration and Championing STEM Advocacy

Jennifer Scott Williams embodies leadership, innovation, and excitement for life. Her career has been a testament to her unwavering passion and versatility, navigating through various roles and significantly contributing to the agency’s milestones and evolution. In her 23 years at NASA, she has combined engineering, business, science communications, and leadership all into one.    

Currently in the Center Director’s Office, Williams serves as NASA Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa Wyche’s assistant for technical integration, supporting meetings such as readiness reviews for the International Space Station and Commercial Crew Programs. Her role also involves coordinating skip-level meetings for Dare | Unite | Explore and overseeing senior staff meetings to ensure that leadership remains informed about the activities happening across the center.  

A woman wearing a grey blazer and a pink shirt smiles in front of a blue background with two flags behind her, a U.S. flag on the left and a NASA flag on the right.
Official portrait of Jennifer Scott Williams.
Credit: NASA/Josh Valcarcel 

She also plays a role in the International Space Station Program’s Research Integration Office, ensuring crews aboard the space station have the tools they need to complete their research. 

“Like many of our laboratories where astronauts conduct their research, understanding the engineering components of the facilities we use on board is crucial,” said Williams. “Understanding the science is also critical,” she added. “It adds meaning to our work when we help execute the science onboard and communicate the creative insights and results from the experiments conducted. Being a good communicator is extremely important and creativity makes that message real and mean something to the public.” 

A woman poses for a selfie in front of a crowd of people who are also posing and smiling for the picture. They are inside in a museum.
Jennifer Scott Williams (front) during a senior staff outreach event at the Remembering Columbia Museum in Hemphill, Texas.

Her journey also included groundbreaking work on the Boeing Starliner spacecraft, where she served as the instrumentation and communications officer on the Boeing Mission Operations Team. Her efforts established operational foundations that will shape its future space missions. Williams was instrumental in developing the vehicle communications systems, understanding its operations, creating simulations, coding, and comprehending the computer systems, addressing all the fundamental aspects necessary for the spacecraft. 

Beyond her technical contributions, Williams is deeply committed to inspiring the next generation of explorers. She also managed the Minority University Research and Education Project, encouraging students of color to engage in STEM fields.  

She led a team that collaborated with students, teachers, and educational institutions through the Pre-Service Teacher Program. Williams said that working in the Office of STEM Engagement was a new experience that became life-changing for her. “I really rediscovered a passion that I have for students and education,” she said. “I love being able to help interns navigate the NASA environment and help people of color be able to apply for NASA jobs. It takes all perspectives to accomplish our mission.” 

Williams earned dual bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and electrical engineering from Spelman College and the Georgia Institute of Technology. She later received a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Houston. She belongs to the Spelman College National Alumni Association and holds a lifetime membership in the National Society of Black Engineers. 

A woman wears a blue top, black button down, and orange necklace in front of a blue sky background with a sketch of the International Space Station.
Jennifer Scott Williams’ headshot in the 2024 International Space Station calendar.
Credit: NASA/Bill Stafford  

Williams is an advocate for youth interested in pursuing STEM careers. Her advice is, “Come on and do it. We are out here,” she added “I love that we are embracing our differences instead of shunning differences because having people with different backgrounds, personalities, insights, and perspectives is what’s going to help us get back to the Moon.”     

“For the Artemis Generation, we need creative minds,” she said. “We need artists, scientists, engineers, technologists, physicians, attorneys, and financial connoisseurs. This next generation is going to have to be open-minded thought seekers. They need to be willing to do things that we have never done before and take the risks so that we can put boots on the Moon and Mars.” 

Four people, two children and two adults, smile and pose outside in front of a large building.
Jennifer Scott Williams with her family at Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the launch of NASA’s SpaceX Commercial Resupply Service mission to the International Space Station on March 15, 2023.

Williams also plays an integral role in Dare | Unite | Explore initiatives. She works with senior leadership to make sure the workforce has professional mobility and is able to get the training and resources for new opportunities. “We want to encourage employees to try new things, to learn, and to grow in different organizations,” she said. “Dare | Unite | Explore ensures that the Johnson workforce is fully supported in our efforts as we grow and develop and that our facilities and processes can support us and are in alignment with our future initiatives.”   

“I never really thought I would work at NASA, but when I came here to interview, they put me in the shuttle simulator and I was hooked,” she said. “I encourage my children to pursue careers in STEM because it has been so beneficial to me throughout my life. The people that I have come across in my time here have been phenomenal. It makes me want to keep coming to work.”  

Powered by WPeMatico

Get The Details…
Sumer Loggins