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NASA: 50 Years of Exploration

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Earth Science Presenters' Bios

    Don Beattie

    Author of: ISSCapades
    After graduating from Columbia College and receiving a commission in the U.S. Navy, Don Beattie began a first career as a carrier pilot serving on active duty from 1951 - 1956 and in Ready Reserve squadrons until 1967. While serving, he flew eleven different type prop and jet aircraft.

    Upon leaving the Navy, he returned to graduate school at the Colorado School of Mines receiving a M.S. degree in 1958 with majors in Geological Engineering and Geophysics. Hired by Mobil Oil after graduate school, he began a second career supervising a geology field party mapping the large Mobil concessions in little known, jungle and rain forest regions of Colombia S.A., including the mountainous area along the Panama/Colombia border. During the rainy season, he was wellsite geologist on a number of wildcat wells drilled in remote locations of the Llanos and northern Colombia. His final position before leaving Mobil, was District Geologist for Northern Colombia.

    While working in Colombia, he learned that NASA was recruiting geologists to help plan Apollo lunar exploration. He was accepted for a job at NASA Headquarters and began work in September 1963 in the newly formed Advanced Manned Missions Office. In this position he participated in planning for Apollo and post-Apollo missions. From 1965 to 1973, he managed NASA offices that had responsibility for the development of experiments, training, and simulations for these missions. In his final position, he was NASA Headquarters Program Manager, Lunar Surface Experiments.

    At the end of the Apollo Program, he transferred to the National Science Foundation (NSF) and was appointed Director, Advanced Energy Research and Technology Division. This appointment coincided with the first “oil shock” and Division programs grew dramatically for the next three years. A major initiative was RD&D for renewable energy. Hundreds of demonstration projects were installed in the next three years on buildings throughout the U.S. For the two major national energy studies conducted at this time, The Nation’s Energy Future released in 1973, and Project Independence released in 1974, he led the Solar and Geothermal energy panels. In 1975, the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA) was formed by President Gerald Ford combining energy research programs from many government agencies. Beattie was appointed as Deputy Assistant Administrator (later as Assistant Administrator) for Solar, Geothermal and Advanced Energy Systems. The latter responsibilities included managing high energy physics and magnetic confinement fusion programs previously under the direction of the Atomic Energy Commission. President Carter, at the beginning of 1978, further consolidated federal energy programs by establishing the cabinet level Department of Energy (DOE). Beattie was appointed as Assistant Secretary (acting) for Conservation and Solar Applications reporting to DOE Secretary James Schlesinger. He held this position until August 1978 when President Carter’s nominee for the position was finally approved. As a senior manager at NSF, ERDA, and DOE, he testified frequently before House and Senate committees explaining and defending programs and budgets.

    He returned to NASA in August 1978 as Division Director - Energy Systems Division. This office was responsible for managing all the energy RD&D programs underway at Lewis Research Center (LeRC), Marshall Space Flight Center, Johnson Space Center, Langley Research Center and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. These programs were carried out by using funds transferred from other agencies such as DOE and AID. Advanced technology projects were built and demonstrated for solar and wind energy, electric and hybrid vehicles, magneto hydrodynamics, and fuel cells. For example, LeRC managed contracts that built and operated the world’s largest, multi-megawatt, wind turbines on the island of Oahu and along the Columbia River.

    Leaving NASA in 1983, Beattie joined BDM International, a engineering services company, as Vice President Houston Operations. His office provided advanced technology projects for the domestic and foreign oil and gas industry. In 1984 he started his own consulting business. Clients included many Fortune 500 companies such as: General Electric, Boeing, Raytheon, Martin Marietta, Lockheed Martin, Chevron, and Rockwell. He also started a small company, ENDOSAT, to develop a high altitude, long duration UAV.

    He is the author of articles published in scientific journals, and author of History and Overview of Solar Heat Technologies, MIT Press, Taking Science to the Moon, Johns Hopkins University Press, and ISScapades: The Crippling of America’s Space Program, CG Publishing Inc.


    Robert Cahalan

    Dr. Robert Cahalan will explain how we learn a lot about the Earth by measuring visible light and invisible electromagnetic waves. He will also explain why various satellite images look different, and he will discuss how the eye detects light.


    Lin Chambers, Hampton, VA

    Dr. Chambers is a physical scientist in the Climate Science Branch at the NASA Langley Research Center. She works on understanding clouds and climate, practical applications of NASA scientific research, and ways to involve K-12 students in what NASA is doing in Earth system science.


    Roberta DiPasquale, Hampton, VA

    Roberta DiPasquale works as a scientist supporting the Science Directorate at NASA Langley Research Center creating practical applications of atmospheric science research and data products. She has spent six years “Crossing the Valley of Death” (research to operations and applications) and is currently focused on climate change issues, urban communities, and sustainable architectural design.


    Don Fairfield, Greenbelt, MD

    Don Fairfield has conducted research on many aspects of the solar wind interaction with Earth’s magnetosphere while working at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center for the past 42 years. His particular interests are the Earth’s magnetic tail and its relationship to aurora and magnetic storms. For the past 15 years he has been NASA’s project scientist for the Geotail spacecraft.


    Frank Jones, Jeffersonville, Indiana

    Jones is an aerospace engineer at NASA Langley Research Center where he helps manage flight and simulator services. These services support lunar flight and science missions to study how atmospheric pollution contributes to climate change. Jones has helped develop technologies that reduce aviation accidents and protect today’s air travelers. Jones also worked on an early configuration of the Space Station.


    Louis Nguyen, Norfolk, VA

    Louis Nguyen is a research computer engineer at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. He is a satellite expert and works with operational weather and research satellites and derives real-time cloud properties for weather applications and climate studies. He develops interactive scientific web-based applications. He is a pioneer in satellite calibration and conducts research in aircraft icing and contrails.


    Claire Parkinson

    Dr. Claire Parkinson is a NASA scientist using satellite data to determine changes in the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice covers and relate them to climate change. Claire has traveled to Antarctica and the North Pole and also is the Project Scientist for the Earth-observing Aqua satellite. Claire has written several books, including one on the history of science.


    Margaret Pippin, Yorktown, VA

    Dr. Pippin is an Atmospheric Scientist at NASA Langley Research Center. She is interested in the analysis of observational data sets to better understand the chemistry of the atmosphere with a particular interest in the biogenic hydrocarbons and their ozone production potential. Margaret has been active in science education for over twenty years and enjoys working with students of all ages.


    Steve Platnick

    Dr. Steve Platnick is a NASA scientist research includes theoretical / experimental studies of satellite, aircraft, and ground-based cloud remote sensing. His collaborations with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center began in 1993, most recently as a member of the Climate and Radiation Branch in the Laboratory for Atmospheres. Prior to that, he was a research associate professor in the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, University of Maryland Baltimore County - an affiliation begun in 1996. He previously held a National Research Council Research Associate position at the NASA Ames Research Center as well as a research and development position at the Hewlett-Packard Co. for six years. His work with Hewlett-Packard included two years as a visiting faculty in the Department of Electrical Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University. He received B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from Duke University and the University of California, Berkeley, respectively, and a Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences from the University of Arizona.


    Bill Saturno

    An archaeologist and remote sensing specialist, Bill has used the unique perspective of space-based observation to understand ancient landscapes and anthropogenic environmental change in Central and South America as well as South East Asia.


    Jeff Schmaltz

    Jeff is a natural resource specialist with the "Rapid Response" project, which provides imagery of the entire earth from space in near-realtime. This imagery and associated information is used to plan emergency response to events such as fires, floods, hurricanes, and famines. Images are also used to support management and study of our natural resources.


    John Skelly

    Dr. John Skelly, Pennsylvania is a retired Professor Emeritus from the Department of Plant Pathology, Pennsylvania State University. His expertise is in forest pathology with specialization in air pollution-caused effects to forest trees and native plants within Northern Temperate regions. He is a consultant on the use of ozone sensitive plants as bioindicators.


    Lin Tian

    Dr. Lin Tian of Silver Spring, Maryland is a meteorologist. She specializes in radar meteorology. She enjoys doing field experiments, especially flying though hurricanes. Lin will be sharing her research alongside Dr. Guoyong Wen on Sun-Climate changes.


    Guoyong Wen

    Dr. Guoyong Wen of Silver Spring, Maryland grew up in China. He is a scientist trying to understand how changes of the Sun can influence Earth's climate. He will bring a spectroscope to describe the research he does with the SORCE satellite.


    David Westberg

    David Westberg is a Research Scientist in the Science Directorate at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. He is a member of a team of scientists who maintain a 23-year solar and meteorological dataset, which is publicly accessible to those who make important decisions dealing with building design, renewable energy, and agro-climatology. In his position, David analyzes, validates, and develops ways to improve the accuracy of the meteorological dataset.


    Darrel Williams, Bowie, Maryland

    Darrel serves as the Project Scientist for the Landsat missions currently in orbit. His career long research has involved the development of enhanced remote sensing techniques for assessing forest ecosystems worldwide. He has received NASA medals for Outstanding Leadership (1997) and Exceptional Service (2000), as well as an Outstanding Alumni Award (2006) from the School of Forest Resources at the Pennsylvania State University.