Countdown to Launch: CERES FM5 Team Profile
The Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) flight model five (FM5) will launch on the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP) on October 28. NPP is the first mission designed to collect critical data to improve weather forecasts in the short-term and increase our understanding of long-term climate change. NPP continues observations of Earth from space that NASA has pioneered for more than 40 years. CERES FM5 extends NASA Langley's critical Earth radiation budget climate data record, which is fundamental to the understanding and prediction of climate change.
CERES People Profile: Susan Thomas
In this series, we are featuring members of the CERES team, past and present, as we count down to launch.
Susan Thomas had great mentors when she started working on CERES, and she hopes she can some day pass information she's learned to a new team members of the CERES instrument group.
Thomas began working at NASA 23 years ago, and her first experience with CERES was the instrument on the TRMM (Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission) mission. Today, she is a lead research scientist who conducts the overall CERES instrument performance evaluation. Thomas works as the CERES instrument team lead at SSAI, where the team conducts calibration analysis and validation studies to check whether any changes are occurring on the instrument sensors on orbit. Thomas also supports the ground calibration and other tests performed on CERES instruments prior to launch.
Digging through the data and understanding what is going on with the instrument is one of Thomas's favorite parts of the job. Also, being able to work with the people on the CERES instrument team is important to Thomas too. Thomas says that she has a group of talented individuals who goes out of their way to make sure things are working fine with the instrument.
Outside of work, Susan enjoys travelling. She is from India, where her parents and sister still live, and she enjoys going back to visit her family and spend time with her nieces.
CERES People Profile: Patrick Taylor
Patrick Taylor is a research scientist and joined the team at NASA Langley two years ago after obtaining his Ph.D. in Meteorology from Florida State University.
As a research scientist, Taylor spends his days comparing CERES data with climate models. This comparison is important because it allows for the evaluation of climate models and the CERES data leading to improved models and observations Taylor hopes to keep digging deeper into our understanding of the daily cycle of radiation, clouds and precipitation in our atmosphere to improve that aspect of climate models. The better the data and models are, the easier it is to understand, predict, and adapt to weather disasters and climate changes – an outcome of his work that Taylor enjoys most.
Taylor's wife, Jessica, also works in the Science Directorate, educating the public about the impact of NASA's Earth science research. Outside of work, Taylor enjoys home brewing and golfing, and he recently had a memorable game in which he shot a 69 at Kiln Creek Golf Course.
CERES People Profile: Lou Smith
Lou Smith has been doing climate science research at Langley Research Center before the CERES mission even started. In fact, he was there before NASA was.
Smith, a senior research scientist for CERES, started at Langley when it was still part of NACA in 1956, and he quickly focused his research interests on atmospheric science. He was part of the Earth Radiation Budget Study team, which developed CERES's predecessor, ERBE (Earth Radiation Budget Experiment). When CERES started, Smith provided analytical support for instrument questions, and today he does studies with the CERES data to demonstrate its utility and documents for the Instrument Working Group.
Smith looks forward to applying the knowledge he has accumulated on the job and working and associating with more good people. Even after 50 years of research contributions, Smith still hopes to provide a better understanding of the role of radiation in climate and develop the art of measuring Earth radiation budget into a mature discipline.
CERES People Profile: Jack Cooper
Jack Cooper has spent 49 years at NASA, and although he has been retired for 7 years, he still can't seem to get enough of the CERES project.
Cooper retired in 2004 after serving as the CERES project manager, and since 2007, he has returned as a part-time consultant to the CERES project. Since many of the original CERES project team members have retired, Cooper assists the current CERES project management team with his heritage experience in the successful development of all of the CERES instruments. Cooper was also the experiment manager for the CERES predecessor, the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) in the 1980s.
After seeing CERES Flight Models 1 through 4 (FM1 - FM4) operate successfully on the Terra and Aqua missions, Cooper has another milestone to accomplish – see the CERES FM5 instrument successfully operate in orbit on NPP and provide high quality data to the CERES science team. After CERES FM5 is in place, Cooper plans to continue to consult the project management team through the completion of FM6 instrument.
Just about as long Cooper has been at NASA, he has also been married to his wife Shannah, and they will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary next year. Family time is important to Cooper, and when he isn't advising the CERES team, he enjoys playing and watching sports, especially when his grandchildren are playing.
CERES People Profile: Gary Fleming
Gary Fleming's father used to say, "If you're going to take the time to do a job, do it the absolute best that you possibly can."
This is a philosophy that Fleming always carries with him and tries to live up as the chief engineer for CERES. He spends most his time working with the CERES Project Office on CERES Flight Model 5, CERES Flight Model 6, which is scheduled for launch on the first Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) satellite in 2016 and CERES-C, which will be the next-generation CERES instrument launched on future JPSS missions.
Fleming got his start at Langley through participation in the LARSS and GSRP programs in 1991. He began working full time at NASA Langley in 1993, and he gives credit for his preparation for his position with CERES to his past and current mentors, the hands-on research work he performed in the Research Directorate/Advanced Sensing and Optical Measurement Branch and his participation in Langley-sponsored Leadership and Professional Development training courses.
Today, as a chief engineer, his responsibilities include oversight and coordination of all things technical on the flight instruments, their interfaces to their host spacecraft, ground testing, launch and early on-orbit commissioning and any necessary instrument ground support equipment.
Outside of work, Fleming enjoys family time with his wife and kids, the occasional round of golf, football season, and fishing in the lake behind his house.
CERES People Profile: Bryan Fabbri
When Bryan Fabbri was a child, he insisted on having a bucket in the backyard to see how much it would rain during a storm. Today, he is still measuring weather and climate – just with more advanced tools.
Fabrri is a research scientist for the CERES Ocean Validation Experiment (COVE) – an ocean platform (also known as Chesapeake Lighthouse) that collects radiation measurements to help validate CERES and other satellite products. Fabbri is responsible for making sure everything at COVE is working properly; he maintains, calibrates and troubleshoots the instrumentation, power and communications at the site and provides data analysis. Fabbri and his colleagues are proud that COVE has maintained over 10 years of continuous radiation measurements, and it still is, to their knowledge, the only true ocean site for many instruments.
Listening and learning from his colleagues, Fabbri says, has made him better at his career as a research scientist and motivates him to work hard. His family, from the coalmines of Southwestern Pennsylvania, has also encouraged a good work ethic in Fabbri. When he isn't at work, Fabbri enjoys watching and playing sports, such as softball, golf and basketball, and spending time with his wife, Lisa, and 2-year-old daughter, Gianna.
CERES People Profile: Kelly Teague
At times, Kelly Teague's job as a flight software engineer for CERES is stressful, but she wouldn't be happy if it weren't.
Teague has been at NASA for about five years and found her way here through a series of jobs that gave her valuable experience. While studying at Christopher Newport University, Teague began an internship at Jefferson Lab that led her into a position as an accelerator operator when she graduated. After a few years of steering an electron beam, Teague transitioned to NASA as a contractor, working with flight operations for the SOFIE (Solar Occultation for Ice Experiment) instrument.
Today, Teague writes flight software loads for the CERES instruments, which are used to change instrument behavior, from the way that science data is recorded and reported to the way the instrument actually operates. She uses a simulator to test out flight software loads before they are uploaded to the instrument and makes modifications to the spacecraft and instrument simulator software when necessary.
When she isn't modifying CERES software, Teague enjoys spending time at the beach, exercising, cooking and listening to live music. Music runs in Teague's family, and her parents toured the country for 15 years before she was born. Her father, a saxaphone player, and her mother are Teague's greatest influences, always telling her she could do anything and be whatever she wanted to be.
CERES People Profile: Lin Chambers
Although she is the lead for the educational portion of the CERES project, Lin Chambers never had a class in Earth science when she was in school.
Because of that, her mission is to expose as many students as possible to that area of study, and Chambers has been successful in doing so through the CERES' S’COOL program -Students’ Cloud Observations On-Line.
The S'COOL project involves K-12 students and others around the world in making ground truth observations of clouds at the time the CERES instruments pass over their location. The reports are used to help validate the information from CERES. With S’COOL, Chambers enjoys working closely with students and teachers around the world who are making observations of their local environment. Chambers expects to reach a special milestone with S'COOL in late October - receiving the 100,000th student cloud observation to NASA through this activity.
Chambers has her own student at home – her 15-year-old daughter - whose journey through the education system continues to inspire ideas in Chambers. At home, Chambers also spends time her husband, who has been very supportive of her occasionally crazy work schedule. Chambers also enjoys knitting, volleyball and skiing.
CERES People Profile: Norman Loeb
For the principal investigator of CERES, being a team leader isn't just about pushing through the scientific challenges – it's about the people too.
Dr. Norman Loeb leads a large team dedicated to ensuring the success of CERES, from beginning to end. Loeb says working with and learning from this outstanding group of scientists and engineers has helped him grow professionally and personally.
Loeb has been a physical scientist for 14 years, and he received the prestigious 2009 William T. Pecora Award on behalf of the efforts by the entire CERES science team for outstanding contributions to the understanding of the Earth by means of remote sensing. This year, Loeb also received this year’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement medal, which is awarded for an unusually significant scientific contribution toward achieving NASA's mission. While his contributions have been significant, Loeb feels like he still has more work to do. He hopes to one day see a multi-decadal climate data record of the Earth’s radiation budget to help improve our understanding of climate.
When Loeb isn't digging through satellite data, he enjoys over 35 pick-up basketball in Virginia Beach, Va. and walking his dog Cruiser with his wife.
CERES People Profile: Dr. Paul Stackhouse, Jr.
CERES data aren't just helpful for learning more about our climate – there are practical applications too.
Paul Stackhouse, a senior research scientist for CERES, co-leads an investigation producing solar and thermal infrared energy fluxes from CERES measurements called FLASHFlux. These fluxes are used to monitor extremes and assess the variability from the most recent year’s worth of data. They can also be made available for applied science use, such as helping people assess how effective a solar panel might be in their area based on how much solar energy they receive.
Stackhouse enjoys finding new and improved ways to not only produce the radiative fluxes, but also use the data products for scientific exploration and making the products available for applied science uses. Just recently Stackhouse saw the 5 millionth data download for NASA's Applied Science Web site of renewable energy parameters, and he hopes to some day expand those parameters to include hourly CERES data products.
In addition to increasing the variety of data products, Stackhouse says his interactions with leading scientists in the field have been equally important to him. His interactions combined with his personal faith keeps things in perspective - helping him to value personal integrity and people.
CERES People Profile: Takmeng Wong
Takmeng Wong has a goal that is both professional and personal – he wants to leave behind a better place for future generations to live.
Wong is a research physical scientist for the CERES team and conducts scientific research to understand Earth’s climate and climate variability using Earth radiation budget data from the CERES mission. More specifically, he is the subsystem lead for the CERES ERBE (Earth Radiation Budget Experiment)-like monthly mean data products and oversees the validation activities of these CERES datasets.
Through continued research, Wong says he hopes to extend the current record of the Earth radiation budget using CERES measurements from the NPP satellite. He explains that this continuous, high-quality climate data record is critical for improving our understanding of the state of the climate and how it is changing with time.
Wong's desire to understand and improve the world we live in came from his exposure to both eastern cultural traditions growing up in China and western culture after moving to the US. He says this experience gave him a better understanding of what is needed in life - hard work, education and mutual respect and understanding. Outside of work, Wong stays busy with his family, which includes his two kids and his wife, who also works at NASA Langley as a scientific programmer.
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