Laboratory for Atmospheres 2003 Technical Highlights: Section 6 Education and Public Outreach

The Laboratory for Atmospheres actively participates in NASA’s efforts to serve the education community at all levels and to provide information to the general public. The Laboratory’s educational outreach component is consistent with the Agency’s objectives to enhance educator knowledge and preparation, supplement curricula, forge new education partnerships, and support all levels of students. Laboratory activities include addressing public policy; establishing and continuing collaborative ventures and cooperative agreements; providing resources for lectures, classes, and seminars at educational institutions; and mentoring or academically-advising all levels of students. Through our public outreach component, we seek to make our scientific and technological advances broadly accessible to all members of the public and to increase their understanding of why and how such advances affect their lives. Education and public outreach are an important part of our basic science activities and go hand in hand with our work on projects, field campaigns, instrument development, modeling, data analysis, and data set development. This section highlights some of the education and public outreach activities of our Laboratory. More details may be found on our Laboratory Web site and on our Branch and Project Web sites.

6.1 Education Activities

Interaction with Howard University and Other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

A part of NASA’s mission has been to initiate broad-based aerospace research capability by establishing research centers at the Nation’s HBCUs. The Center for the Study of Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Atmospheres (CSTEA) was established in 1992 at Howard University (HU) in Washington, D.C., as a part of this initiative. It has been a goal of the Laboratory and the Earth Sciences Directorate to partner with CSTEA to establish at Howard University a self-supporting facility for the study of terrestrial and extraterrestrial atmospheres, with special emphasis on recruiting and training underrepresented minorities for careers in Earth and space science.

The Laboratory works closely with CSTEA faculty in support of the Howard University Program in Atmospheric Sciences (HUPAS). HUPAS is the first MS- and PhD-granting program in atmospheric sciences at an HBCU and the first interdisciplinary academic program at Howard University. Scientists from our Laboratory contribute to the HUPAS program as lecturers, advisors to students, and adjunct professors who teach courses. A number of Howard students are now on track for earning MS and PhD degrees in atmospheric sciences.

The Laboratory continues its enthusiastic support for the Goddard Howard University Fellowship in Atmospheric Sciences (GoHFAS) program. GoHFAS was established in 1999 by Professor Sonya Smith to broaden and strengthen the research and educational opportunities of underrepresented minorities. The students attend a summer program at Howard University where they engage in research with mentors at HU, GSFC, or NOAA. They receive fellowships at their home institutions during their senior year and are given an opportunity to visit HU during the winter break to continue their research. The GoHFAS program assists in the transition from undergraduate-to-graduate school by exposing students to solving open-ended problems, and giving them a head start by exposing them to the workplace of scientific research.

The 2003 GoHFAS class (Figure 6-1) had nine students from four universities: Clark Atlanta University, Elizabeth City State University, Winston–Salem State University, and Howard University. Their initial introduction to GoHFAS was the eight-week summer program which ran from June 2–July 25, 2003. Other activities during the summer were an introductory graduate course on Earth and Space Science taught by Dr. George Carruthers of the Naval Research Laboratory; a workshop on technical writing and presentation skills conducted by Ms. Juanita Thompson, tours of several research facilities in the area, and special weekend events. GoHFAS class mentors are shown in Figure 6-2.

GoHFAS Class of 2003. Front (L-R): Joi Coperidge, Tecorra Peterkin, Linwood Creekmore, Christian Douglas, Shyreece Vincent, and Lydia Edwards. Back: Jamal Thompson, Joseph Bates, and Grace-Ann Duncan.

Figure 6-1. GoHFAS Class of 2003. Front (L-R): Joi Coperidge, Tecorra Peterkin, Linwood Creekmore, Christian Douglas, Shyreece Vincent, and Lydia Edwards. Back: Jamal Thompson, Joseph Bates, and Grace-Ann Duncan.

(L-R) Mentors Jaime Demick, Walter Hoegy, and GoHFAS PI, Professor Sonya Smith.

Figure 6-2. (L-R) Mentors Jaime Demick, Walter Hoegy, and GoHFAS PI, Professor Sonya Smith.

Summer Programs

In addition to the GoHFAS collaboration with Howard University, our Laboratory participates in a number of programs that bring graduate, undergraduate, and high school students to work one-on-one with scientists and engineers in the Laboratory for Atmospheres, as well as in other Laboratories and Directorates at Goddard. Our Laboratory also hosts groups for tours of our facilities and lectures to inspire interest in Earth sciences. The Summer Institute is the longest running program sponsored by the Earth Sciences Directorate. The Graduate Student Research Program in Earth Sciences, run by GEST, is a successful program which exposes students to the most current research topics in Earth science. Information on this program can be accessed at the GEST Web site ( under Student Opportunities. Information on programs sponsored by the Goddard Office of University Programs, can be accessed at Information on Earth science related programs may be obtained from These programs are designed to stimulate interest in interdisciplinary Earth science studies by enabling selected students to pursue specially tailored research projects with Goddard scientific mentors. A sample of student mentoring activities can be found in Table 6.

Table 6. Sample of Student Mentoring





Kelly Johnson

Valparaiso University

Lorraine Remer

Summer Institute

Roberto Rondanelli


Ming-Dah Chou

Summer Institute

Michael Larsen

Michigan Tech

Alexander Marshak


Elizabeth Farrell

Craig Parrot

Emma Goff


David Herring

Maryland Educators Summer Program (MSRP)

Dong-Min Lee

Seoul National University, Korea

Yogesh Sud


Joseph Bates

Howard University

Si-Chee Tsay


Lydia Edwards

Clark Atlanta U.

Walter Hoegy and Charles Wolff


Tercora Peterkin

Winston-Salem State

Jaime Demick


Sheyreese Vincent

Clark Atlanta U.

Paul Mahaffy


Linwood Creekmore

Elizabeth City State

Ashwin Mahesh


University Education

At the university level, Laboratory scientists have taught undergraduate and graduate courses, given seminars and lectures, and advised degree-seeking students. Steve Platnick co-taught PHYS 622 (Atmospheric Physics II) at the University of Maryland Baltimore County in the (boreal) spring. Warren Wiscombe (while on sabbatical at University of Maryland College Park) taught a course (with Professor Li) on Global Environmental Problems, during the spring semester. He also developed a concept for an Earth System Science undergraduate program. The course (pioneered at Oregon State University), includes a novel teaching strategy with 3-week intensive segments; the course format would allow GSFC and NOAA scientists to participate.

K-12 Education

Laboratory staff participated in K–12 Education in a variety of ways. Laboratory scientists routinely present lectures and demonstrations to K–12 schools and youth groups to help develop an early interest in science. Many Laboratory scientists have also mentored students in grades K–12. As an example, Jaime Demick gave a seminar on “Career Development in Engineering & Science” at the First Annual High School Baltimore Convention Center Development Conference. She gave a talk about the Sun to a second grade class at the Geyser Road Elementary School; and lectured on “Engineering and Science at NASA to three 6th-grade classes at Maple Avenue Middle School, both in Saratoga Springs, New York.

6.2Public Outreach Activities

Informing the public of how their tax dollar investments are working for them within the Laboratory is a critical subset of the Center and Agency public outreach mission. Laboratory scientists, working with other Laboratories at Goddard and outside institutions, continue to pass on their knowledge and interest in Earth and space science to the general public via public information and education programs. Our scientists and engineers have been interviewed by the news media; appeared in press conferences; generated Web sites, CDs, and educational material oriented toward the general public; and participated in public forums. Through the Electronic Theater (E-Theater) of Fritz Hasler, visual presentations of our Earth and Space Science activities have been given here at Goddard and around the world. The numerous seminars given by Lab members at universities, other government laboratories, and meetings are detailed in Appendices B1-B9 in the electronic version of this Report. Another major outreach activity of the Laboratory was the celebration of 40+ years of achievements, detailed later in this section.

Our outreach activities, particularly on the Internet, are continually updated and improved. It is suggested, therefore, that the reader peruse our Laboratory’s Web site at and click on the various links, including the four branch sites.

Government Agency Outreach

Our scientists are called upon to inform other NASA Centers and other government agencies on science issues related to our work. The following are examples of this outreach:

Public Media Outreach

As an example of media outreach, in addition to our press releases (which are listed in Appendix A1), Anne Thompson participated in an onsite interview at Goddard in early May and in the taping of a segment of “The Prince Georges Trailblazers,” Cable TV program on May 29. The “Trailblazers” program features accomplished women of Prince Georges County. Thompson talked about the rewards of doing ozone research at Goddard and about careers in atmospheric sciences for young people.

Science Conference Outreach

A one-day course titled “Lidar for Meteorologists 101,” was prepared by Geary Schwemmer for the annual AMS meeting in Seattle. (The course was prepared in October 2003 and presented in January 2004.) The course is an introduction to lidar applications for research meteorologists and climatologists. It was also intended for other related professionals who need, or would like to understand, the applications of atmospheric lidar. Lectures were given by Geary Schwemmer and Belay Demoz of our Laboratory, Tim Kane of Penn State University, Ray Hoff of University of Maryland–Baltimore County, and Anthony Davis of Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Education and Outreach Colloquia

The Education and Outreach Colloquia are a Directorate function, hosted by David Herring of the Climate and Radiation Branch. The colloquia have the goal of coordinating and improving the education and outreach activities of the Directorate. A list of the colloquia during 2003 is given in Table 7.

Table 7. List of the education and outreach colloquia held during 2003.




Bringing Earth Science and the Environment Home

Dave Jones, President and CEO, StormCenter Communications, Inc.

January 15

SCORM and MPEG-4 Compliance in Distance Learning

Dr. Cesar Bandera, V. P. for Research and Advanced Technology Development at Creneaux LLC

February 12

New Ways of Taking Science to people

Frank Burnet, Director of Graphic Science, University of West England in Bristol, UK

March 12

Creating Quality Science-based Video for Television and the Classroom

Helen Devitt Holt, President of Summer Productions, Inc. Diane Hoffman, Senior Education Consultant for Summer Productions, Inc.

April 9

Delivering Science Content Through On-line Professional Development Courses

Marily Dewall, Director of Jason Academy for Science Teaching and Learning

May 14

Science Policy Leaders

Jon D. Miller, Director of the Center for Biomedical Communications at Northwestern University

June 11

The Space place

Nancy Leon, NASA Space Place program, JPL

September 24

Earth Science Week and other AGI Outreach Activities

Ann Benbow, Director of Outreach, American Geological Institute

October 15

How the Public Learned about Global Warming

Spencer Weart, Director of the Center for the History of Physics, American Institute of Physics

November 12

The Story of Science

Kendall Haven, Author

December 10

Project Outreach

TRMM Outreach

TRMM Header

TRMM continues its comprehensive Education/Outreach program, in which Laboratory personnel promote TRMM science and technology to the public under the leadership of the TRMM Project Scientist Robert Adler (910) and TRMM Education and Outreach Scientist Jeffrey Halverson (912/JCET). TRMM has included the development of broadcast visuals and educational curriculum. These packages are available on the TRMM Web site ( and have been reviewed as a part of the ESE Education product review. For up-to-date information, please go to the TRMM Web site.

GOES Outreach

This Web server continues to provide GOES images online, including full-resolution images of all sectors of the United States for the most recent two days. There are extensive scrapbooks of digital movies and pictures of important weather events observed by the GOES-8 through GOES-12 satellites since the first launch in 1994. The science administrator of the Remotely Sensed Data (RSD) server ( supplies GOES-derived high-quality graphics and severe storm animations to the Visualization Analysis Laboratory (VAL), to GSFC Public Affairs Office (PAO), and directly to the public via the Internet. During active hurricanes, the GOES section of the RSD Web server is accessible to the general public.

VAL header

For up-to-date information, see the GOES site at; the RSD server at, and the VAL Web site at .

EOS Terra Outreach

Terra header

The EOS Terra outreach effort under the direction of Yoram Kaufman (Code 913), Jon Ranson (Code 920), and David Herring (Code 913) is a coordinated effort to foster greater cooperation and synergy among the various outreach groups within the EOS community. Information is available on the Terra Web site (, which is also maintained by the Terra Project.

Earth Observatory header

The Terra effort is intimately integrated with the larger, ongoing Earth Observatory ( and Visible Earth ( projects. A sampling of these activities, described below, represents contributions from the diverse EOS community. David Herring leads a core group of content developers for the Earth Observatory. This Web environment provides a NASA Web-based interactive magazine written in a popularized style where the general public can access timely satellite imagery and information about the Earth. It showcases new data visualizations and new science results from EOS and ESE missions. All resources produced for the Earth Observatory are freely available for use by the EOS community, the general public, museums, educators, students, public media, regional stakeholders, environmental awareness groups, etc. While leadership for this site resides in Code 913, significant contributions to its development are from Codes 900, 902, 912, 921, 922, 923, 935, 971, as well as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Johnson Space Center, Langley Research Center, the DAAC Alliance, and other organizations outside of NASA.

Folded into the Earth Observatory operation is maintenance and development of NASA’s Visible Earth (—a digital repository of Earth images, animations, and data visualizations stored at a range of resolutions. This site is designed to scale up so as to provide the public with a one-stop portal for access to the superset of all publicly available NASA Earth imagery. The responsible civil servant for Visible Earth is Michael King, Code 900. Dr. King is the primary sponsor for this entire suite of activities.

EOS Aura Outreach

EOS Aura Atmospheric ChemistryEOS Aura Atmospheric ChemistryEOS Aura Atmospheric Chemistry

The Laboratory for Atmospheres has responsibility for conducting the Education and Public Outreach program for the EOS Aura mission. Aura’s Education and Public Outreach program has four objectives:

(1) Educate students about the role of atmospheric chemistry in geophysics and the biosphere;

(2) Enlighten the public about atmospheric chemistry and its relevance to the environment and their lives;

(3) Inform geophysics investigators of Aura science, and thus, enable interdisciplinary research; and

(4) Inform industry and environmental agencies of the ways Aura data will benefit the economy and contribute to answering critical policy questions regarding ozone depletion, climate change, and air quality.

To accomplish these objectives, the Laboratory has partnered with several institutions, which have established infrastructures that reach large audiences through formal and informal education. The GLOBE program and the American Chemical Society (ACS) will carry out formal EOS Aura education outreach effort. Grants are now in place with the American Chemical Society (ACS), the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), and the GLOBE Program, via Drexel University for the various educational and public outreach activities relating to atmospheric chemistry and the Aura mission. The grants have resulted in educational material that will reach tens of thousands of teachers and their students, and millions of members of the general public. Creation and dissemination of additional education products will continue through launch. For further information, see the Aura Web site at

NASA/NOAA: Earth Science Electronic Theater 2003

The E-Theater uses high definition television (HDTV) display at up to IMAX size to deliver powerful visualizations promoting Earth science. Scientists from the various Earth science disciplines work directly with the VAL team to develop scientifically accurate visualizations. E-Theater visualizations are rendered at HDTV quality, the highest resolution that can be easily distributed. The visualizations are also available in lower resolutions, such as standard definition TV and as QuickTime movies. Multiple resolution versions of each E-Theater visualization are being added to the E-Theater Web page——and the Visible Earth Web page——along with an explanation of the scientific significance and the origin of the data. The E-Theater has been presented at universities, high schools, grade schools, museums, and government laboratories, as well as to scientists and the general public.

Museum Support

VAL actively works with large and small museums in creating new, innovative Earth science displays. Some of these museums include the National Museum of Natural History, the National Air and Space Museum, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, the Virginia Science Center, The Children's Museum of Utah, and the Houston Museum of Natural History.

One successful museum activity is the permanent “Earth Today” exhibit of near-real time Earth science data displays at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum—the most visited museum in the world. These near-real time data presently include global cloud cover, global water vapor, sea surface temperature, sea surface temperature anomalies, biosphere, and earthquakes. VAL personnel are developing an upgraded extensible version of this exhibit that will allow its adoption by other museums.

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum header

Earth Today header

The link for the “Earth Today” exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum can found at

6.3 40+ Years Celebration of Atmospheric Sciences

A brochure was written which summarizes the reason for celebrating 40+ years of atmospheric science; the cover is shown in Figure 6-3.

Cover of the brochure summarizing the reason for celebrating 40+ years of Atmospheric Science.

Figure 6-3. Cover of the brochure summarizing the reason for celebrating 40+ years of atmospheric science.

Figure 6-4 illustrates the evolution of atmospheric research at Goddard, starting in the late 1950s and early 1960s; how upper atmosphere, meteorology, and stratosphere research merged into the current Laboratory; and how the Space Science fields of electrodynamics, magnetosphere and plasma research exited the Laboratory as Earth Science and Space Science were placed in distinct Directorates. Goddard, and all of NASA, is undergoing further change as a result of the President’s new Exploration Initiative. In spite of past organizational changes, we have continued to grow and excel in atmospheric research. We expect to play an even more significant role in atmospheric science in the future.

The evolution of Atmospheric Science at Goddard

Figure 6-4. The evolution of atmospheric science at Goddard.

Over 80 invitations to the 40+ Years Celebration were made to distinguished visitors, including our speaker for the afternoon colloquium, Paul Crutzen, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995. Guests were first welcomed to the Directorate by Code 900 Director Franco Einaudi (the former Chief of our Laboratory), and then welcomed to the Laboratory by our current Chief, William Lau, who gave a brief review of our current research. Bill Bandeen discussed the early history of atmospheric sciences and our early results; Skip Reber talked about the early years of aeronomy research; Fritz Hasler gave an E-Theater presentation on weather visualization yesterday and today; and reflections talks were given by Milton Halem, Dave Atlas (former Chief of the Goddard Laboratory for Atmospheric Sciences), and Marv Geller (former Chief of our Laboratory). A luncheon talk was given by Michael King, and a remembrance of Nelson Spencer—former Chief of the Laboratory for Planetary Atmospheres—was given by Hasso Niemann and Marv Geller. A highlight of the celebration was the afternoon talk by Paul Crutzen on “The Importance of the Tropics in Atmospheric Chemistry.” Figure 6-5 is a photo of the Laboratory Chiefs and Paul Crutzen, and Figure 6-6 is a photo of Hasso Niemann (foreground) giving a remembrances talk on Nelson Spencer (in background), the former Chief of the Laboratory for Planetary Atmospheres.

Photo of Lab Chiefs with Paul Crutzen. L to R: William Lau, Franco Einaudi, Paul Crutzen, Marv Geller, Dave Atlas.

Figure 6-5. Lab Chiefs with Paul Crutzen. L to R: William Lau, Franco Einaudi, Paul Crutzen, Marv Geller, and Dave Atlas.

Hasso Niemann giving remembrances talk on Nelson Spencer, former Chief of the Laboratory for Planetary Atmospheres

Figure 6-6. Hasso Niemann giving remembrances talk on Nelson Spencer (photo in background), former Chief of the Laboratory for Planetary Atmospheres.