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NASA’s Space Lasers with Dr. Scott Luthcke, Dec. 5

The Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation lidar will reveal the 3-D architecture of forests, as depicted in this artist’s concept. Image Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division

Scott Luthcke, a geophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, will be at the Library’s Pickford Theater on Thursday, December 5, from 11:30a.m.-12:30p.m.  His talk, “Space Lasers and Satellite Measurements: Ushering in a New Era of Spaceborne Laser Altimetry Dependent on Satellite Geodesy,” is the final program in the series for 2019.

The effects of changing climate on land and sea ice coverage; surface water hydrology; understanding the Earth’s carbon cycle and biodiversity—these are all being investigated in the missions  Luthcke participates in.  He will discuss two of the recently launched instruments, ATLAS and GEDI.

ICESat-2 (Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite), launched September 15, 2018, carrying a single instrument, the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System, (ATLAS).  ATLAS has a single laser split into six beams and arranged in three pairs, to better gauge the slope of Earth’s surface. Mechanisms on board precisely time the round-trip of laser photons as they leave ATLAS, reflect off the ground and return to the receiver telescope. By matching those times with the satellite’s precise location in space, mission scientists can determine the heights of Earth’s surface. They can calculate the height of glaciers, sea ice, forests, lakes and more – including the annual height change of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to within the width of a No. 2 pencil!  In November 2018, NASA’s Tom Neuman spoke at the Library about ICESat-2 . You can view his talk “Monitoring the Polar Regions from Space” on the Library’s webcast page or on the YouTube channel.

NASA’s new laser instrument, the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation, or GEDI. Engineer Bente Eegholm’s reflection can be seen in the primary mirror of the receiver telescope. Photo by: NASA Goddard/Desiree Stover

NASA’s Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI-yes, pronounced JEDI!) mission launched in December 2018. From its perch aboard the International Space Station, GEDI’s powerful lasers have been creating detailed 3D maps of Earth’s forests and topography, providing innovative and unique spaceborne observations since January 2019.

GEDI’s mission provides scientists detailed information about forest structure: How tall the forest is, how dense its branches are, and the vertical and horizontal distribution of its foliage. All of this yields crucial insights into Earth’s global carbon cycle by fostering a better understanding of how forests store carbon and what happens to that carbon when they are cut down or disturbed. Forests support numerous plant and animal species, and understanding their structure can help biologists better understand Earth’s forest habitats and biodiversity.


For inquiries about this program, contact Stephanie Marcus in the Science, Technology & Business Division at 202-707-1192 or [email protected] Individuals requiring accommodations for this event are requested to submit a request at least five business days in advance by contacting (202) 707-6362 or [email protected]

IT IS ROCKET SCIENCE! Exploring Earth’s Escaping Atmosphere with NASA’s Douglas Rowland on October 17

NASA’s Dr. Rowland will talk about atmospheric escape, his adventures in Norway, and what is being learned from the VISIONS-2 data in his lecture, Exploring Our Escaping Atmosphere: Going above the Top of the World to Watch the Sky, on Thursday, October 17, from 11:30 a.m.-12::30 p.m. in the Madison building’s third floor Pickford Theater.

Organic Molecules in Martian Mud: NASA Lecture with Astrobiologist Jennifer Eigenbrode on September 12

On September 12, NASA Astrobiologist Jennifer Eigenbrode presents “A Mud Matter: The Recent Discovery of Organic Matter Preserved in 3-billion-year-old Mudstones on Mars,” at the Library’s James Madison Building’s third floor Mary Pickford Theater from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Fly Me to the Moon: Celebrating Apollo 11 at 50 with a Quilt & Book Display

This post was authored by Nanette Gibbs, Business Reference Librarian, and Sean Bryant, Science Reference Librarian, of the Science, Technology, and Business Division. The Science, Technology and Business Division is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon mission with a display of books from the Library’s general collection, paired with a selection of […]

Hurricane Hunting NASA Style: Lecture with Research Meteorologist Scott Braun June 13

This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division. Overshadowed by an outbreak of tornadoes in May, the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season began on June 1.  NASA Goddard research meteorologist Scott Braun will present a timely lecture on how NASA is using space-based and airborne measurements to […]

Planet-Hunting NASA Astrophysicist, Elisa Quintana, to Speak at the Library May 9

This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division. The next speaker in the NASA Goddard lecture series, Elisa Quintana, never dreamed of becoming an astrophysicist, but happened to take physics at the University of California, San Diego, and was fortunate to work with Professor Sally Ride. […]

Back to the Moon! NASA Scientist Noah Petro to Talk April 30 about Apollo at 50 and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division. 50 years ago on July 20, 1969, around 530 million of us watched in amazement as first Neil Armstrong and then Buzz Aldrin left the lunar module Eagle and stepped out on the surface of the moon.  Michael […]

Earhart in L’Aerophile

I have been wanting to delve into the L’Aerophile collection for business themed posts for quite a while; I’ve found a number of things I want to write about, but I’ve chosen to start with Amelia Earhart, because March is Women’s History Month. The L’Aerophile collection was featured in a post by Angel Vu in […]