Thursday, November 20, 2014

Creating the Future: Building JWST, what it may find, and what comes next?




Dr. John Mather: "How did we start the James Webb Space Telescope, what can it see, what might it discover? I will describe the hardware, what it was designed to observe, and speculate about the surprises it might uncover. I will also outline a possible future of space observatories: what astronomers want to build, what we need to invent, and what they might find, even the chance of discovering life on planets around other stars."

Dr. John Mather, NASA GSFC, Nobel Prize Winner in Physics (2006)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Balancing Precariously on Giants’ Shoulders: Landsat and Project Science



Dr. James R. Irons: "The two best aspects of coming to work for 35 years at GSFC have been the opportunity to work on research and projects of societal consequence and the opportunity to work with and around an amazing array of colleagues. The handwork, dedication, and skill of the GSFC workforce have inspired me to try my best to contribute to important efforts. I found my most gratifying niche as a part of the Landsat program. I will attempt to share my experience and observations working across GSFC Directorates to play a role in a couple of successful Landsat missions."

Dr. James R. Irons, NASA GSFC, Deputy Director, Earth Sciences Division

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

From Picking Potatoes to Measuring the Biggest Bangs in the Solar System— Always a Farm Boy!



Dr. Brian R. Dennis: "I will describe my formative years in England and my career in the United States, starting in 1964 at the University of Rochester, NY, and, since 1967, at Goddard. I will summarize our present understanding of how solar flares work, derived partly from observations made with more-and-more advanced X-ray and gamma-ray spectrometers, culminating with the Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI). Finally, I will review possible advances in instrumentation that could lead to major breakthroughs in the future."

Dr. Brian R.Dennis, NASA GSFC, Solar Physics Laboratory

Monday, September 8, 2014

Maxwell Demon, Black Swan and a Romp in Scientific Hinterlands



Dr. P.K. Bhartia: "This enigmatic title captures my scientific career very well. In my talk, I will discuss my roller coaster career, which got nearly derailed after a brief tryst with history. This gave me a great appreciation of how the quest for a "good story" by the media can create urban myths that can influence even our best scientific minds. Finally, I will discuss my obsession for understanding esoteric details of measurements that once in a while leads to something interesting. "

Dr. P.K. Bhartia, NASA GSFC, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory

Friday, August 22, 2014

An Unlikely but Rewarding Journey—From Quantum Chemistry to Earth Science Research Program Leadership



Dr. Jack Kaye: "In this Maniac Talk, I will review how I ended up transitioning from being a theoretical physical chemist interested in quantum mechanics into an executive overseeing a large and interdisciplinary portfolio of Earth Science research. I will take stock of my 30+ years at NASA, noting the people, opportunities, and choices that helped me get to where I am today and accomplish what I have. I will share what lessons I have learned, and offer some thoughts about my future, the future of the community(ies) impacted by my efforts, and potentially useful thoughts for audience consideration."

Dr. Jack Kaye, NASA/HQ, Associate Director for Research

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Rocket Scientist grows up in Brooklyn (NY)



Dr. Aprille Ericsson: "From the ‘hood in Brooklyn, NY to the banks of the Charles River (Cambridge, MA) to the MECCA and political machinery of Washington, DC, follow my journey of being a Tom-girl growing up in the Bed-Stuy Projects with a budding interest in STEAM to becoming a Rocket Scientist for NASA. I will share the impact of watching men going to the moon and the multicultural Star Trek show; my days as jockette/baller (that is football, basketball and softball); the ah-ha moment of realizing what you want to be when you grow up, my failures and successes in the classroom; landing that first/second NASA job and the challenges and rewards of the NASA Job; figuring out what makes me happy and balancing life. Also I will impart the lessons learned from impactful mentors in my life and career."

Dr. Aprille Joy Ericsson, Instrument Project Manager and Technologist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Monday, June 9, 2014

From Brownian Motion to Mars, by way of hockey on the rocks



Dr. James Garvin: "The catch-phrase “never wait to wonder” is one that has dominated my science career over 28 years at NASA. For me, the wonders of scientific research began early, as a 3-year old on long walks in the New York state woodlands with mysterious outcrops that caught my young imagination. But it was also heightened by the Mars and the Viking Projects, which hooked me in spite of my passion for computing and algorithms. In my presentation, I will weave the story of how my passion for rocks and landscapes drove me to promote new remote sensing approaches for measuring their topologies and led to founding of the Mars Science Laboratory and its Curiosity Rover. The journey I will describe was influenced by compelling science leaders at NASA and in our science community, from Noel Hinners to Ed Weiler, and as far back as Tim Mutch and Jim Head and Richard Grieve."

Dr. James Garvin, Chief Scientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Career in Many Ozone Layers



Dr. Anne Thompson: "Following a peripatetic post-doctoral conversion from Physical Chemist to Atmospheric Scientist, she landed at Goddard in the mid-1980s, a heady time of Ozone Hole discovery and anticipation of EOS. She took full advantage of Goddard’s amazing resources to chart a unique interdisciplinary trajectory, working with modelers in the Atmospheric Chemistry & Dynamics Branch (still “home”) and in “Severe Storms” and GISS, where they made primitive calculations of the links between pollution and climate change. In 1990, she veered back to experiments on a Soviet-American oceanographic cruise before getting hooked on satellite, balloon and aircraft campaign studies of tropospheric ozone and its chemical relatives. The constant challenge in this research has been sorting out natural variations vs human impacts, that is, being open to complexities that pop up when they really “look and listen” to the data. This talk will describe some of the problems she has worked on and try to convey an enthusiasm for Earth Observations that brought her back to NASA after an 8-year adventure as a Penn State Meteorology professor."

Dr. Anne Thompson, Goddard Senior Fellow, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Friday, April 11, 2014

How I Came to NASA to Fix Spacecraft



Dr. Henning Leidecker: "My life, from earliest memories to now, has been spent pondering how things work. This led me into university, to profess physics for decades. But then I came to NASA GFSC, and learned that the best way to be sure about how something works is to fix it when it's broken. I'll speak of the single tiny incandescent lamp that killed three GOES, of HST gyros running down, of exploding parts in TDRS, discuss why the Shuttle repeatedly failed to launch, and how these things got fixed by addressing the underlying physics."

Dr. Henning Leidecker, Chair, Goddard Senior Fellows, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Thursday, February 27, 2014

From studies of solubility and divers breathing helium, to DOGS, then NCAR and NASA


Dr. Peter Hildebrand: "How did I get to where I now find myself? Holy Cow! It has been an eventful path, with role models, mentors, a few fumbles, and a lot of love for the study of Mother Nature. At Chicago, learning about how a bubble chamber works; seeing Sputnick go overhead on that first day; learning about the course for crazies: weather modification, which then spurred me on to "dig and discover". Realizing we could actually build the most advanced weather radar ... perhaps ever ... and then doing it. And finally coming to participate in the penultimate set of space observations of Earth. What a ride! What is next?"
 
Dr. Peter Hildebrand, Director, Earth Sciences Division, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center


(GESTAR thanks Dr. Hildebrand for taking the time to deliver his Maniac Talk prior to his retirement, which is effective Feb. 28, 2014.)  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Story: A Tale of Three Continents


In this talk, Dr. Lau tells the story of how world events, and the culture and education systems of three major continents, Europe, Asia and North America, shaped his upbringing, career goals and work ethics. He talks about his experience as a kid growing up under a colonial education system with strong Chinese cultural influence, his aspirations to pursue a career in physics, and how he accidentally entered the field of atmospheric sciences in the US. Then he discusses the evolution of NASA from a pure science (as far as he is concerned) to a mission oriented agency from the early 1980’s to present, with respect to his early work on air-sea interaction modeling (his PhD thesis), monsoon cold surges, ENSO instability; how he rediscovered the 40-50 day oscillations (a.k.a., the MJO) and the Pacific heating dipole from satellite observations; involvement in the formulation of the TRMM; how to make a time series sing; participation in TOGA-COARE and leading the SCSMEX monsoon experiments, and more recently, circumstances leading to the formulation of the “Elevated Heat Pump” (EHP) hypothesis on aerosol-monsoon climate interactions, and the Ying-Yang of floods and droughts occurrence under climate change. Finally, he talks about his decisions to take on positions as the Branch Head (now Lab Chief) in 1991, and then Chief of the Laboratory for Atmospheres (now Deputy Director for Atmospheres) in 2003, which marked two major bifurcations in his professional career. Dr. Lau has found the right balance and enjoyed his roles in both management and in science research. He is fortunate to have the diverse expertise, and the best and brightest minds around at NASA to bounce off new ideas on science, projects and missions.  

 
Dr. William Lau, Deputy Director for Atmospheres, Earth Sciences Division, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center