Atmospheres 2004 Technical Highlights: A Letter from Dr. William K.-M. Lau, Laborator

National Aeronautics and
Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, Maryland

Laboratory Chief’s Summary

Dear Reader:

Welcome to the Laboratory for Atmospheres’ 2004 annual report. I thank you for your interest. We publish this report each year to describe our research and to summarize our accomplishments.

This document is intended for a broad audience. Our readers include managers and colleagues within NASA, scientists outside the agency, graduate students in the atmospheric sciences, and members of the general public. Inside, you’ll find descriptions of our work scope, our people and facilities, our place in NASA’s mission, and our accomplishments for calendar year 2004.

The Laboratory’s approximately 300 scientists, technologists, and administrative personnel are now part of the Earth-Sun Exploration Division in the Sciences and Exploration Directorate of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. This is due to NASA’s transformation in response to the President’s Exploration Initiative. This transformation has brought Earth Science and Space Science back together under one science umbrella. Our Laboratory will continue our mission of advancing the knowledge and understanding of the atmospheres of Earth and the planets.

The Laboratory had an exciting and productive year organizing and participating in international field campaigns, developing instruments, analyzing data, developing data sets, and improving our models. We saw a successful launch of the Aura spacecraft, and are now actively participating in validation studies and analysis of the data from Aura itself. Aura joins the complement of EOS satellites that will help us better understand our home planet’s vital environment, and will increase our knowledge of the complex chemistry of the atmosphere.

We initiated the very successful Distinguished Lecturer Seminar Series, which focused on precipitation, clouds, aerosol and their physical/chemical linkages; details of the series can be found on our Web site,

As in previous years, Laboratory scientists garnered many top professional society honors. Anne Thompson was presented the International Achievement Award from Women in Aerospace; Marshall Shepherd was awarded the Presidential Early Career for Scientists and Engineers award in a White House ceremony; Robert Adler, Robert Atlas, Yoram Kaufman, and Joan Rosenfield were elected Fellows of the AMS; and Pawan Bhartia was presented the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal. Warren Wiscombe was elected President of the Atmospheric Sciences Section of the AGU, and David Starr, the Secretariat of the International Commission on Clouds and Precipitation (ICCP). A complete list of award winners is given in the Web version of this report. I congratulate them for their outstanding achievements.

The year 2004 was also a time to bid farewell to a valuable civil servant member of the Laboratory, Anne Thompson, who retired but will be continuing her chemistry studies in the Meteorology Department at Penn State.

I am pleased to greet two new civil servants in the Laboratory during 2004, Daniel Glavin and Andrew Garcia.

Noteworthy events that took place during 2004 include: Extensive preparations were made for the Saturn–Titan encounter; the Saturn orbit insertion occurred in July 2004; the Probe release to Titan took place on December 25, 2004; and Probe entry into the atmosphere of Titan occurred on January 14, 2005.Goddard Space Flight Center was selected to lead an international team to develop an instrument suite for the Mars Science Laboratory, which will land on Mars in 2010 and operate on the surface for an entire Mars year (about two Earth years). Our Atmospheric Experiment Branch and Paul Mahaffy played a key role in the Mars Science Laboratory and the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite, which will assess the extent and nature of organic carbon compounds and take an inventory of the chemical building blocks of life. Robert Cahalan is chairing the Observations Working Group of the Climate Change Science Program Office, tasked to evaluate and coordinate multi-agency contributions to the U.S. Government climate observing system. James Gleason was appointed NPP Project Scientist. Proposal winners for developing instruments for UAV applications were Matt McGill for the Cloud Physics Lidar, and Bruce Gentry for a Doppler receiver for measuring Tropospheric winds.

Because of the transformation, the Laboratory lost the Atmospheric Experiment Branch, which moved to the Solar System Exploration Division. We wish Hasso Niemann and all of his Branch members continued success under the new organizational structure.

This report is being published in two forms: an abridged printed version, and a full electronic version on our Laboratory for Atmospheres Web site. Check out our Web site. It continues to be redesigned to be more informative for our scientists, colleagues, and the public. We welcome comments—which may be submitted via the Web site—on this 2004 report and on the Web material.



William K.-M. Lau,

Chief, Laboratory for Atmospheres, Code 613

April 2005