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1,144 articles from NASA


TUESDAY 19. NOVEMBER 2019


Portal origin nid: 
455428
Published: 
Monday, November 18, 2019 - 20:45
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Camp managers and other local officials overseeing Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh are now incorporating NASA satellite observations into their decision making in order to reduce the risk to refugees from landslides.
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MONDAY 18. NOVEMBER 2019


Portal origin nid: 
452967
Published: 
Monday, November 18, 2019 - 15:00
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An international team has found sugars essential to life in meteorites, supporting the hypothesis that meteorite bombardment on ancient Earth may have assisted the origin of life with a supply of life’s building blocks.
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Portal origin nid: 
455232
Published: 
Monday, November 18, 2019 - 11:00
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Scientists have evidence that one of these ingredients, liquid water, is present under the icy surface of Europa, a moon of Jupiter, and may sometimes erupt into space in huge geysers. Now scientists have detected the water vapor for the first time above Europa’s surface.
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THURSDAY 14. NOVEMBER 2019



TUESDAY 12. NOVEMBER 2019


This blog post originated in the 2018 Science Mission Directorate Science and Technology Report.

PROJECT

High-Performance In Situ Dust Analyzer (Hyperdust)

KEY POINTS

Hyperdust’s unique ion optics design combines the ability to provide high-performance composition measurements with the aperture that is needed to detect a statistically significant number of particles in space over a standard mission duration of a few years.

Photo of hyperdust prototype
The Hyperdust prototype instrument’s ion optics. (Image credit: Tibor Balint)

The history of the formation and evolution of the Solar System is encoded in the compositional diversity of its small bodies, including comets and asteroids, and the solid material that was the source of it all: interstellar dust. But there are simply too many small bodies to be visited and investigated individually. Instead, what if scientists could survey the tiny particles (microsamples) that originate from these bodies and are delivered near Earth’s orbit by dynamic processes?

The High-Performance In Situ Dust Analyzer (Hyperdust) Project is developing a highly capable instrument to measure the compositional diversity of many thousands of solid particles in space. The Composition Analyzer part of this instrument is now in development for deployment on NASA’s Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) mission to be launched in 2024. Over the past four years, the Hyperdust Project has been maturing a novel instrument concept that will provide the capability of analyzing the composition of micron- and submicron-sized cosmic dust particles with higher resolution and sensitivity than ever before. The National Research Council’s 2013 Planetary Science Decadal Survey notes that, “There are too many asteroids, comets and KBOs [Kuiper belt objects] to explore individually by spacecraft.” Over the past 30+ years, in situ composition measurements have been obtained only for a handful of asteroids and comets. The Hyperdust instrument offers a paradigm shift, from an approach limited to observing a few bodies individually, to one surveying the entire solar system and beyond.

schematics of the hyperdust instrument
The schematics of the full Hyperdust instrument. The Hyperdust Project team developed many of the key technologies enabling the instrument’s unique capabilities. (Image credit: Tibor Balint)

Hyperdust is a complex instrument that measures the velocity vector and composition of each cosmic particle encountered in space. The former measurements are accomplished by the Trajectory Sensor, which consists of an array of wire electrodes that sense the particles when they enter through the aperture. The velocity information is used to identify the origin of each particle based on its orbit around the Sun. The Composition Analyzer then measures the composition of ions that are generated by the high-speed impact of the dust particle on a clean metal surface. This information reveals the elemental and chemical composition of the impacting dust. The Hyperdust project team developed key elements of this measurement capability, namely the sensitive electronics needed to detect the particle in the Trajectory Sensor, the refined ion optics, and the ion detector.

The full Hyperdust instrument is approximately 70 cm tall and has a disk-shaped impact collection surface that is 40 cm in diameter. Such large size is needed to collect a statistically significant number of particles and their composition information. The Composition Analyzer part of the instrument has been selected to fly on the IMAP mission—the fifth mission selected in NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Probes program. The goal of the IMAP-bound instrument is to map out the composition of interstellar particles traversing through the solar system and link their composition to the characteristics and physical processes of the interstellar medium.

Photo of detector prototypes
Two copies of the SUDA ion detector prototype. The SUDA detector is built on the Hyperdust technology development. (Image credit: LASP/CU)

Besides detecting and analyzing cosmic dust in interplanetary space, the technology advanced during development of the Hyperdust instrument is also supporting exploration of icy worlds and their habitability. For example, NASA is developing the SUrface Dust Analyzer (SUDA) instrument for the Europa Clipper mission. SUDA carries an ion detector that is based on that developed for Hyperdust. The SUDA instrument will analyze the icy particles originating from the surface of the Jovian moon Europa, and identify the chemicals embedded in the ice, both organic and inorganic.

SPONSORING ORGANIZATION

Planetary Science Division’s MatISSE Program

PROJECT LEAD

Dr. Zoltan Sternovsky, University of Colorado

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Photo of hyperdust prototype

Portal origin nid: 
455094
Published: 
Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - 11:27
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In a fitting tribute to the farthest flyby ever conducted by spacecraft, the Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 has been officially named Arrokoth, a Native American term meaning “sky” in the Powhatan/Algonquian language.
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Portal origin nid: 
454935
Published: 
Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - 10:00
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Scientists noticed something baffling on Mars: oxygen, the gas many Earth creatures use to breathe, behaves in a way that so far no one can explain through any known chemical processes.
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FRIDAY 8. NOVEMBER 2019



THURSDAY 7. NOVEMBER 2019


Photo of petri dish with mosquitoes in it

A NASA-enhanced website that began in California to strengthen mosquito control efforts has gone cross-country. Utah and New Jersey state public health officials and mosquito control agencies are now using the California Vectorborne Disease Surveillance System (CalSurv) to help monitor and respond to potential outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases.

Data have been used from several Earth-observing satellites to map mosquitoes that can carry these deadly viruses, including precipitation observations from the Global Precipitation Measurement mission (GPM), land cover/land use data from the Landsat satellites, and land-surface temperature data from NASA’s Terrestrial Observation and Prediction System (TOPS). Vegetation data are also incorporated from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor aboard NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) aboard the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite, and NASA’s North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS). 

Read more Making Space for Earth blog posts

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Photo of petri dish with mosquitoes in it

Quickly identifying disaster-damaged buildings can be the difference between life and death. Using satellite and aerial images to survey damage is less risky to emergency responders than obtaining ground level views, however reviewing these images is time-consuming because it’s still done using manual methods.

In an attempt to spur innovation in automated damage assessment, NASA Earth Applied Sciences’ Open Innovation program has joined forces with Defense Innovation Unit (a US Department of Defense Research and Engineering organization) to challenge the computer vision community to create automated or semi-automated processes to quickly identify damaged buildings in satellite and aerial images.

Image collage of satellite orbiting earth and three large forest fires

The xView2 Challenge, developed by the Defense Innovation Unit and other humanitarian assistance and disaster recovery organizations, includes $150,000 in cash awards to the top solvers who can accurately locate and assess damage to buildings using pre- and post- disaster images.

Solvers analyze images in a set of data provided as part of the competition. That data, called xBD dataset, is one of the largest and highest-quality publicly available collections of annotated high-resolution satellite imagery of damaged buildings.

Challenge participants compete on three possible tracks with each track including different protections of licensing and different awards. Submissions to all tracks are ranked on an active leaderboard based on their top scores.

  1. Open source. Individuals/Teams compete for leaderboard position with top scores. By releasing their models publicly under a permissive open source license, teams also become eligible for an additional open source award.
  2. Non-exclusive government purpose rights. Individuals/Teams grant government purpose rights. Solutions can be used to help future disaster recovery efforts.
  3. Evaluation Only. Individuals/Teams retain intellectual property and other rights to benchmark their solution. Top teams in this category will still be eligible for a special monetary prize pool for their submissions.

Top solvers in all tracks are eligible for follow-on prototyping opportunities.

Equipped with the capability to source and benchmark solutions from around the world, the xView2 Challenge evaluates solutions in real-time to provide immediate technical feedback to the solver community during the competition.

“We are always looking for ways to improve rapid damage assessment to ensure we and our partners deliver the right resources to the right places at the right time, and we are confident the DIU Challenge can contribute to that goal,” said the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Regional Administrator, Robert Fenton.

The xView2 Challenge is DIU’s second prize competition focused on furthering innovation in computer vision for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts. This year’s competition builds on a previous challenge, which sought out computer vision algorithms to locate and identify distinct objects on the ground useful to first responders.

For xView2, DIU led a team of experts from academia and industry to create a new dataset, called xBD. It allows for localization and damage assessment before and after disasters and is currently the largest and most diverse annotated building damage dataset. The open source electro-optical imagery (0.3 m resolution) xBD dataset encompasses 850,736 building annotations across 45,361 square kilometers of freely available imagery from over 10 countries and includes six disaster types: wildfire, landslides, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes/tsunamis, wind and flooding damage.

Currently, raw satellite imagery is not enough to inform recovery efforts and processing the images into useful information is a slow and laborious process. Seeing specific damage conditions requires high-resolution imagery, but because disasters cover a large ground area, analysts must search through huge swaths of pixel space to localize and score damage. Then that annotated imagery must be summarized and communicated to the recovery team.

The Challenge’s partners represent a first-of-its-kind coalition between the artificial intelligence and disaster response communities including NASA Applied Sciences’ Disasters Program, FEMA’s Region 9, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the California Guard, the US Defense Department’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, the United States Geological Service, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Innovation Network.

Top algorithms will be integrated into operational workflows for partners at the front lines of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Winners of any cash prize will be considered eligible to be awarded follow-on prototyping work with the Department of Defense in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief.

The competition started on September 19th, 2019 and will run until December 31st, 2019.

For more information please visit: https://xview2.org/

Read more Making Space for Earth blog posts

Master Image: 
Image collage of satellite orbiting earth and three large forest fires


WEDNESDAY 6. NOVEMBER 2019



TUESDAY 5. NOVEMBER 2019


Photo of Bradley Doorn
Bradley Doorn has worked at NASA for 10 years. Credit: NASA/Bradley Doorn.

Brad Doorn, program manager for NASA Earth Applied Sciences Water Resources Program and Food Security Program, is receiving NASA’s prestigious Exceptional Service Medal for his committed work to advance NASA’s goals. This award is granted to NASA civil servants for “sustained performance that embodies multiple contributions” to NASA’s programs and goals, and whose “record of achievements sets a benchmark for others to follow.”

Doorn got his start in science in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and has seen the value of NASA Earth observations throughout his career. Now, he is responsible for developing the strategy to enhance these NASA capabilities for water resources and agriculture applications, including drought monitoring and crop management.

Lawrence Friedl, director of NASA’s Applied Sciences Program within the Earth Science division, remarked that the award is well-deserved. “Brad’s decade of service has ensured the Water Resources and Food Security Programs’ success,” Friedl said. “He’s built a standout team who's worked hand-in-hand with partners to ensure our Earth observations and research are benefitting communities around the world. He's a great leader – we wouldn’t be where we are today without him.”

Doorn said he is honored to receive the award, and is inspired daily by his team. “This award is a tremendous honor and wouldn’t have been possible without the Water Resources and Agriculture program management teams that develop and lead an inspired portfolio of applied research.  I am humbled by this recognition and thank the Applied Sciences Program, Earth Science Division and NASA for this opportunity to serve my country.” He will receive the award on November 5, 2019 at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Read more Making Space for Earth blog posts

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Photo of Bradley Doorn

Portal origin nid: 
454739
Published: 
Tuesday, November 5, 2019 - 13:00
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The glow of the Milky Way — our galaxy seen edgewise — arcs across a sea of stars in a new mosaic of the southern sky produced from a year of observations by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Constructed from 208 TESS images, the panorama reveals both the beauty of the cosmic landscape and the reach of TESS’s cameras.
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Portal origin nid: 
454756
Published: 
Tuesday, November 5, 2019 - 09:30
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A new NASA study shows that over the last 20 years, the atmosphere above the Amazon rainforest has been drying out, increasing the demand for water and leaving ecosystems vulnerable to fires and drought. It also shows that this increase in dryness is primarily the result of human activities.
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FRIDAY 1. NOVEMBER 2019


Portal origin nid: 
454472
Published: 
Friday, November 1, 2019 - 12:00
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For the past 25 years, Wind's data has been instrumental in elucidating solar wind properties, intense space weather, and interstellar space, as well as assisting other spacecraft that have gone on to study the Sun up close.
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THURSDAY 31. OCTOBER 2019


PROJECT

RainCube (Radar in a CubeSat)

KEY POINTS

RainCube successfully demonstrated Ka-band precipitation radar technology on a low-cost, quick-turnaround platform. This new technology will enable constellations of small spacecraft that can track storms and provide data about how the storms evolve in short time scales—capabilities that are needed to improve numerical weather and climate models.

Color chart of precipitation profile of a Typhoon
Precipitation profile of Typhoon Trami generated by RainCube on September 28, 2018.

Accurate prediction of severe storms yields numerous societal benefits—from predicting when and where disaster relief may be required, to helping you decide whether to take an umbrella when you leave your house. But to improve these predictions, scientists need a way to measure the movement of water and air in thunderstorms globally. RainCube has demonstrated a technology that will enable such measurements to be collected on a global scale in a cost-effective manner.

Developed at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), RainCube has demonstrated a new architecture for miniaturized Ka-band precipitation radars. Following a successful deployment from the International Space Station in July 2018, the RainCube radar was turned on in late August, and successfully acquired vertical range profiling measurements of precipitation and land surface at a nadir-pointing configuration. Since then, it has continued to acquire additional measurements, including the vertical precipitation profile of Typhoon Trami on September 28, 2018, shown on the previous page.

Photos of RainCube flight hardware
Precipitation profile of Typhoon Trami generated by RainCube on September 28, 2018.

RainCube uses Ka-band radar to “see” into storms. The satellite sends a radar signal towards the storm being observed, and receives a signal back as the radar bounces off raindrops in the storm. This capability provides a picture of the activity inside the storm such that scientists can learn about the processes that make the storm grow or decay.

photo of RainCube team in JPL lab
The RainCube team in the lab at NASA JPL.

A network of ground-based weather radars provides much of the information currently used to produce weather forecasts. However, these systems have several limitations that prevent them from providing a global view of storm activity: only developed countries are capable of supporting such networks, measurements over oceans are largely unattainable, and many mountain ranges present significant challenges to these ground-based measurement systems. Weather satellites provide a global view, but can only capture images of the tops of the storms; they do not provide much of the information that is needed to understand what is happening inside the storms. A couple of spacecraft with downward-looking cloud or precipitation radars have enabled improved understanding of the structure and global distribution of storms, but these missions are usually expensive and thus it is cost-prohibitive to launch a constellation that would enable continuous global coverage.

“RainCube introduces a new paradigm to observe weather processes by enabling a constellation of precipitation-profiling radars, which would revolutionize climate science and weather forecasting.” - Dr. Eva Peral, NASA JPL

Photo of RainCube and HaloSat CubeSats following ISS deployment
RainCube (left) and another CubeSat called HaloSat (right) following ISS deployment.

As PI Dr. Eva Peral notes, “RainCube introduces a new paradigm to observe weather processes by enabling a constellation of precipitation-profiling radars, which would revolutionize climate science and weather forecasting.” The RainCube radar takes measurements in a geometry similar to other existing spaceborne radars, but its novel architecture reduces power consumption, mass, volume, and the number of components by more than an order of magnitude with respect to those instruments. Thus, the RainCube architecture is compatible with the volume, mass, and power constraints of small satellites, significantly reducing the manufacturing cost. The RainCube mission ultimately demonstrates the potential for an entirely new and different way of observing Earth with a constellation of low-cost small radars. A constellation of “RainCube-like” spacecraft would provide the spatial and temporal coverage and sampling that are needed to improve our understanding of Earth’s water cycle and eventually advance the numerical models that are used for weather forecasting, enabling more accurate prediction of rain, snow, sleet, and hail.

SPONSORING ORGANIZATION

Earth Science Division’s InVEST Program

PROJECT LEAD

Dr. Eva Peral, NASA JPL

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Master Image: 
Color chart of precipitation profile of a Typhoon

Portal origin nid: 
454408
Published: 
Thursday, October 31, 2019 - 09:23
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no
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The public is invited to a free lecture called ‘From the Sun to Solar Wind: The Perplexing Solar Corona and the Space Environment it Creates.'
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WEDNESDAY 30. OCTOBER 2019


Portal origin nid: 
454314
Published: 
Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - 08:26
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Look closer to see why scientists studying this distant cloud of dust and gas think it resembles a cosmic jack-o'-lantern.
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TUESDAY 29. OCTOBER 2019


Valuables Workshop announcement

This week, on Wednesday, October 30, Resources for the Future’s VALUABLES Consortium is hosting its 2019 workshop in Washington, D.C. The annual workshop brings together economists, NASA experts, Earth scientists, decision makers and thought leaders working to estimate and communicate how satellite data benefits society when we use it to make decisions. VALUABLES, which stands for the Consortium for the Valuation of Applications Benefits Linked to Earth Science, is a partnership between Resources for the Future (RFF) and NASA that assesses the socioeconomic value of Earth observations and focuses on advancing innovative techniques to value the information this data provides.

Anyone interested in learning more about the value of Earth observation can RSVP to watch the free webcast, which will be livestreamed online, at this link: valuables2019-webcast.splashthat.com. The workshop will include new results from case studies on how satellite data can improve outcomes for people and the environment, from managing health and air quality, to flooding and endangered species. The workshop will take place on Wednesday, October 30, from 10:00 a.m. ET to 5:00 p.m. ET.

By Lia Poteet 
Earth Science Division - Applied Sciences, Washington DC

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Billions of people around the world are affected by water resource issues, making the everyday activities we take for granted, like taking a shower or turning on the tap and getting clean water,  that much harder. NASA is committed to helping people around the world solve water resource challenges—and celebrating those in the NASA community who make that possible.

Which is why Christine Lee is one of the 2019 NASA Early Career Public Achievement Medal awardees for her work in applied sciences focusing on water quality and water resource issues. The medal is awarded for unusual and significant performance during the first 10 years of an individual's early career in support of NASA. For such an award, Lee’s already impressive body of work more than fits the bill; or should we say, fills the glass.  

Photo of Christine Lee with laptop
Christine Lee presenting her work in Belize City, Belize, May 2019. Credit: NASA/Christine Lee

Lee supports the NASA Water Resources Program as an Associate Program Manager, committed to fostering and supporting a community of applied researchers and water practitioners through this program.  Lee also conducts research that uses satellite and airborne data to help address water quality issues, and provides Applied Sciences leadership to Earth Science missions like ECOSTRESS and Surface Biology and Geology.

Prior to joining JPL, Lee completed a postdoctoral program in astrobiology at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a Ph.D. at UCLA in Civil and Environmental Engineering, focusing on water quality issues.  Her opportunity to work with NASA Applied Sciences came in 2012 when she joined the team as AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, allowing her to experience and see different ways in which her technical expertise, and NASA’s investments in Earth observing systems, could contribute to science and society. 

Even a relatively shallow dive into Lee’s work yields discoveries with deep implications. “Did you know that water from the Sierra Nevada is conveyed through the San Francisco Bay Delta for agricultural water use in California’s Central Valley and Southern California’s drinking water?” Lee said. Currently she’s working on a project to improve quality monitoring in Californian water supplies, in collaboration with the California Department of Water Resources, Metropolitan Water District, Oregon State University, the U.S. Geological Survey, University of California, Merced, and 34 North. The goal is to operationalize the processing of different water quality parameters so that monitoring is more effective everywhere from local reservoirs to, well, the San Francisco Bay Delta.

“With the drought, multiple beneficial uses of California’s water, and the complexity and vastness of California’s water system, there was a unique opportunity to apply remote sensing data to support monitoring and management,” Lee explains.

And additional opportunities for Lee abound. She’s also on a team that is analyzing coastal water quality impacts on coral reefs in Belize for U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and she’s recently been selected to join the ECOSTRESS Science and Applications Team to focus on monitoring water temperature stress conditions of endangered fish in in the Bay Delta. 

“Being at NASA JPL allows me to work with data, build partnerships and programs, and help discover new ways NASA’s data can be utilized for societal benefit.  I love integrating these lessons learned as input into current and future missions.”  Lee says. And how does she feel about receiving this award? “It’s a huge honor, and for me it was a total surprise. I feel very fortunate that I’m able to work in this area.”

For water-drinkers everywhere, the fortune is ours.

The awards ceremony will occur at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA on October 29, 2019.

By Justin McCarthy
Earth Science Division - Applied Sciences, Washington DC

Read more Making Space for Earth blog posts

Master Image: 
Photo of Christine Lee with laptop


FRIDAY 25. OCTOBER 2019


Blizzards, narwhals and sneaky polar bears are all part of a day’s work for Kristin Laidre, a marine biologist funded by NASA’s Applied Sciences Ecological Forecasting Program to study glaciers in southeast Greenland and the polar bears that use them as a habitat.

Laidre spends a lot of time in the Arctic, especially in Greenland where she is using GPS to track polar bears, among many other research efforts.

We sat down with Laidre to ask her what it’s like working in one of the most isolated places on Earth, what big question she’s trying to answer, and why the title of her autobiography would be “Things I Didn’t Tell my Mother: All the Ways I Almost Died”.

Photo of Krisin Laidre in front of snow covered mountain
Kristin Laidre in Kuummiut, a small East Greenland community, taken at the end of the 2017 field season. This photo was taken at the “airport,” where Laidre and her team park and refuel their helicopter. Credit: NASA/Kristin Laidre

1. What’s it like working in the Arctic?

It’s so unbelievably beautiful. There are these huge jagged mountains covered in snow and glaciers coming down from the ice caps. There are polar bears, seals and nobody for a thousand miles. It’s just kind of unreal. But aside from the Arctic’s beauty, there are a lot of challenges you face there that you can’t really control or predict.

Often the challenges involve weather, which is a huge factor for doing anything in the Arctic. On any Arctic project I’d say about 50% of the days you can’t work because the weather is so bad, so on the days you can work you have to do things as efficiently as possible.

2. What is the biggest question you’re trying to answer?

Climate change is impacting all of the animals that I study, so it’s sort of like a theme that is always there across my projects, but we also study populations for other reasons, such as ensuring sustainable use of natural resources by indigenous communities. The big question we’re trying to answer is what does the future look like for all of these uniquely adapted Arctic mammals?

In 50-to-100 years, how many of these animals will be left and how will that impact the ecosystem? All the work we do as scientists documenting these changes is so important.

Photo of woman with polar bears
Caption: Kristin Laidre monitoring two three-month-old polar bear cubs in southeastern Greenland while the mother bear is being studied. Laidre and her team monitor adult females with their cubs in spring on the sea ice.  Credit: NASA/Peter Hegelund

3. What advice to you have for young scientists coming into the field?

Stay positive, be creative, and work hard. There’s many ways a young scientist can contribute, but increasingly those of us who work on the front lines of climate change have to work hard to not let the difficult things we are documenting affect us in a negative way.

It’s hard to see a lot of the things we observe and what we document. Everyday you’re living the reality that things are really going downhill fast due to climate change, so staying positive will be so important for young scientists going into the field.

4. What would your autobiography be titled?

Things I Didn’t Tell my Mother: All the Ways I Almost Died. We care so much about safety, but there are things you just can’t control in the Arctic. You deal with so many unexpected things, from really dangerous weather to polar bears sneaking up on you.

Photo of three polar bears making tracks in the snow
Caption: Polar bears and their tracks on the sea ice in east Greenland. The photo, taken from helicopter, shows an adult female polar bear with two males pursuing her. The male bears will likely fight each other for a chance to mate with her. Credit: NASA/Kristin Laidre

5. Wait… polar bears will sneak up on you?

It usually happens when you’re working with another polar bear that is sedated. I’ve had encounters where a different polar bear will see me from far away and must think “that looks interesting.” I’ve had a polar bear get on its belly and put its nose through the snow so you couldn’t see the black part and crawl army style to sneak up on me; so, you have to be very vigilant.

6. What led you to write a graphic novel about the narwhal and its tusk?

There’s a lot of misinformation in the media about the purpose of the narwhal tusk—for a long time people thought it was a sea monster that could use its tusk to destroy ships. Every time I do any outreach or school talk on narwhals I get asked about their tusks, and I grew frustrated about the incorrect information out there.

I wanted something creative and funny that was also factually correct which I could share with people and get them to learn about the information in a different, human way. I worked with an artist I know, Owen Curtsinger, to bring the story of the narwhal to life.

Illustrated book cover for Myths of the Tusk
Caption: Myths of the Tusk, a graphic novel by Owen Curtsinger and Kristin Laidre. Credit: Owen Curtsinger/Kristin Laidre

You can view Myths of the Tusk at Owen Curtsinger's website.

Laidre plans to return to the field next year in 2020 in east Greenland, where she will be continuing her research on polar bears and their changing habitat.

Read more Making Space for Earth blog posts

Master Image: 
Photo of woman with polar bears

Portal origin nid: 
454132
Published: 
Friday, October 25, 2019 - 10:00
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no
Portal text teaser: 
The FORTIS sounding rocket will launch from the White Sands Missile to observe stars and supernovae as they pump gas into the circumgalactic medium. It's one part of a larger recycling process keeping galaxies alive.
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