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NASA at 2014 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting: Press Events

NASA researchers are presenting new findings on a wide range of Earth and space science topics during the 2014 fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The meeting runs from Monday, Dec. 15, through Friday, Dec. 19, in San Francisco.

This NASA AGU media website contains detailed information about how media can participate in the press briefings, both on-site and remotely. The site will be updated throughout the week with additional information about NASA presentations, a list of which appears below.

› NASA's AGU website
› NASA Media advisory: "NASA Highlights Drought, Mars, Arctic Warming at American Geophysical Union"

› AGU Online Media Center →

Press Briefings

Media Availability


Early Results from the MAVEN Mission

Time: Monday, 15 Dec., 9 a.m. PST

NASA’s newest Mars orbiter, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, spacecraft began its science phase in mid-November. As the first mission devoted to observing the tenuous upper atmosphere of Mars, MAVEN is helping scientists determine how much of the atmosphere has been lost throughout the planet’s history and which processes have been driving that loss. A panel of MAVEN mission scientists will discuss early observations made by MAVEN that are revealing new information about the composition and behavior of the upper atmosphere of Mars.


  • Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN Principal Investigator, University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Jasper Halekas, SWIA Instrument Lead, University of Iowa
  • Paul Mahaffy, NGIMS Instrument Lead, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Jim McFadden, STATIC Instrument Lead, University of California at Berkeley

Related AGU Sessions:

P42A, P43A

› NASA press release: "NASA’s MAVEN Mission Identifies Links in Chain Leading to Atmospheric Loss"

Latest Look at X-rays and Gamma-rays in Thunderstorms

Time: Monday, 15 Dec., 10:30 a.m. PST

The intense electrical fields generated within thunderstorms produce bursts of high-energy radiation as well as lightning. This session includes new results from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, which is helping scientists explore the connection between brief flashes of gamma rays and the range of storms capable of producing them.


  • Themistoklis Chronis, Research Associate, Earth System Science Center, University of Alabama, Huntsville, Alabama
  • Joseph Dwyer, Professor of Physics, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire
  • Pavlo Kochkin, Research Scientist, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, Netherlands

Related AGU Session:


› NASA feature story: "NASA's Fermi Mission Brings Deeper Focus to Thunderstorm Gamma-rays"

Surprising findings in Greenland’s melt dynamics

Time: Monday, 15 Dec., 1:30 p.m. PST

As Greenland’s climate warms, liquid water runoff has become the island’s dominant contributor to global sea level rise. A panel of cryospheric researchers will discuss recent surprising discoveries about Greenland's melt water: thick ice lenses that contribute to heavy runoff and damaging floods; surface lakes that hold liquid water through Greenland's frigid winters; and extensive year round near-surface aquifers that store huge amounts of water within the ice. The panel begins with 90-year-old photographs of Greenland glaciers and continues with unexpected findings from field and satellite work (including results from NASA's Operation IceBridge) exploring the fates of Greenland and its ice melt.


  • Anders Bjork, Natural History Museum of Denmark
  • Lora Koenig, National Snow and Ice Data Center, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder)
  • Richard Forster, University of Utah
  • Mike MacFerrin, CIRES, CU-Boulder

Related AGU Sessions:

C018-2, C025-2, C51C-06, C025-2

› NASA feature story: "Hidden Movements of Greenland Ice Sheet, Runoff Revealed"

California’s epic drought as viewed from space

Time: Tuesday, 16 Dec., 9 a.m. PST

California’s multi-year drought is stressing freshwater availability to its limits and has cost Californians $2 billion in 2014 alone. But when did the current drought begin and when can we say it’s over? Harnessing the power of remote observations, researchers can now answer those questions. Speakers will discuss how they are using the latest satellite and aircraft-based analyses of snowpack, surface water, reservoir storage, soil moisture, groundwater and freshwater to identify the birth and death of California’s droughts.


  • Jay Famiglietti, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and UC Irvine, California
  • Tom Painter, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California
  • Matt Rodell, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland

Related AGU Session:


› NASA feature story: "NASA Analysis - 11 Trillion Gallons to Replenish California Drought Losses"
› Briefing slides (PDF format)

Recent Findings from NASA's Curiosity Rover about Modern and Ancient Mars

Time: Tuesday, 16 Dec., 10:30 a.m. PST

NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover, more than two years after landing inside Gale Crater, is continuing its investigations in an extended mission of the Mars Science Laboratory Project. Members of the Curiosity science team will present findings about present and past Martian environmental conditions, as indicated by compositional measurements of atmosphere and rock.


  • Christopher Webster, NASA Curiosity Science Team Co-investigator, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
  • Sushil Atreya, NASA Curiosity Science Team Co-investigator, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Roger Summons, NASA Curiosity Participating Scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
  • John Grotzinger, NASA Curiosity Project Scientist, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena

Related AGU Sessions:

P42C, P43D

› NASA press release: "​NASA Rover Finds Active, Ancient Organic Chemistry on Mars"
› NASA feature story and video: "NASA Goddard Instrument Makes First Detection of Organic Matter on Mars"

Holidays in Lights: Tracking Culture from Space

Time: Tuesday, 16 Dec., 2:30 p.m. PST

It’s not just the days that are merry and bright this holiday season – festive lights illuminate the nights in cities across the United States.

In this briefing, scientists will present a new way of studying satellite data that can illustrate patterns in holiday lights, both during Christmas and the holy month of Ramadan, and show images of where and when the lights shine brightest. These new tools can provide new insights into how energy consumption behaviors vary across different cultural settings.


  • Miguel Roman, Research Scientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Eleanor Stokes, Yale University

Related AGU Session:


› NASA feature story: "NOAA/NASA Satellite Sees Holiday Lights Brighten Cities"
› Briefing slides (PDF format)

Rosetta comet science results

Time: Wednesday, 17 Dec., 8 a.m. PST

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission rendezvoused with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on August 6. On November 12, the mission’s Philae lander became the first spacecraft to soft land on a comet’s surface. The Rosetta science team will present images and science results from the mission to date, and discuss future goals for the mission, as the spacecraft and comet approach perihelion (closest point to the sun).


  • Matt Taylor, Rosetta Project Scientist, European Space Research and Technology Center, Noordwijk, the Netherlands
  • Claudia Alexander, U.S. Rosetta Project Scientist, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
  • Kathrin Altwegg, ROSINA Principal Investigator, Center of Space and Habitability., University of Bern, Switzerland
  • Jean-Pierre Bibring, Lead Lander Scientist, Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale, Orsay, France

Related AGU Sessions:

P32B, P33D, P33F, P34B, P41C

› NASA feature story: "Rosetta Orbiter to Swoop Down On Comet in February"

Arctic heating: 15 years of sea ice loss—and absorbed solar radiation gains

Time: Wednesday, Dec. 17, 11:30 a.m. PST

The retreat of summer sea ice in the Arctic is driving increased absorption of solar radiation due to the conversion of bright, reflective sea ice into dark, exposed ocean waters. Now, armed with 15 years of satellite observations from NASA’s CERES mission, scientists will present a new estimate of just how much the rate of solar energy gain has increased over the Arctic Ocean since 2000. They will also discuss the implications of this trend for sea ice, the Arctic climate and beyond.


  • Norman Loeb, NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia
  • Jennifer Kay, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
  • Walt Meier, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center; Greenbelt, Maryland

Related AGU Session:


› NASA Goddard press release: "NASA Satellites Measure Increase of Sun’s Energy Absorbed in the Arctic"

After the pulse flow: Greening the Colorado River Delta

Time: Wednesday, 17 Dec., 2:30 p.m. PST

In spring 2014, 130 million cubic meters of water was released from Morelos Dam on the lower Colorado River, allowing water to reach the Gulf of California for the first time in 16 years. Now, six months later, scientists have analyzed some of the first effects of this historic experiment, the result of a new U.S.-Mexico agreement. In this panel, researchers will present satellite and on-the-ground observations of the wide-ranging effects of this brief flow of water, including recovery of native trees and vegetation in the river’s corridor, recharge of the aquifer, the water’s path, and the public’s reaction to this event.


  • Karl Flessa, Professor of Geosciences, University of Arizona
  • Pamela Nagler, Research Scientist, USGS Southwest Biological Science Center
  • Jeff Kennedy, Hydrologist, USGS Arizona Water Science Center

Related AGU Sessions:

H43Q, H41B, NS41A

› NASA feature: "NASA/USGS Satellite Sees Green-up Along Colorado River's Delta After Experimental Flow"

Early Results from NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 Mission

Time: Thursday, Dec. 18, 9 a.m. PST

In 2014, NASA launched four new missions to study our home planet, including the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 in July – NASA's first mission dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide. This press conference will present early results from the OCO-2 mission. Fossil fuel combustion, deforestation and other human activities are adding almost 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere each year, yet less than half of it stays airborne. The rest is apparently being absorbed by natural processes at the surface, whose identity and location are poorly understood. Ground-based carbon dioxide measurements accurately record the global atmospheric carbon dioxide budget and its trends but do not have the resolution or coverage needed to identify the "sources" emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere or the natural "sinks" absorbing this gas. One way to improve the resolution and coverage of these measurements is to collect precise observations of carbon dioxide from an orbiting satellite. OCO-2 is NASA's first satellite designed to measure atmosphere carbon dioxide with the accuracy, resolution and coverage needed to identify its sources and sinks. OCO-2 is currently recording more than 100,000 carbon dioxide measurements over Earth's sunlit hemisphere each day. In addition, a new data product from OCO-2 that senses light emitted from the photosynthesis of plants has been developed. Over the next two years, these measurements are expected to revolutionize our understanding of the processes controlling the atmospheric buildup of carbon dioxide.


  • Annmarie Eldering, OCO-2 Deputy Project Scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
  • Chris O’Dell, Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Paul Wennberg, R. Stanton Avery Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Environmental Science and Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
  • Christian Frankenberg, Research Scientist, NASA JPL

Related AGU Sessions:

A41G, A41H, A41I, A51P, A52E, A53R

› NASA feature story: "NASA's Spaceborne Carbon Counter Maps New Details"
› Briefing slides (PDF format)

Note: To view videos embedded within this PDF, it is recommended that you right click the link above and 'Save As' to your computer.

New Horizons on Pluto’s Doorstep

Time: Thursday, 18 December, 11:30 a.m. PST

After nine years and three billion miles in flight, it’s “mission on” for New Horizons at Pluto! The historic encounter begins with long-distance observations in January 2015, and culminates with a flight past Pluto and its moons in July 2015. In this workshop, New Horizons team members will cover why we’re traveling to Pluto, what we want to learn, how we’re going to collect this new information, and our efforts to bring the excitement of this incredible voyage to the public.


  • Alan Stern, New Horizons Principal Investigator, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo.
  • William McKinnon, New Horizons Co-Investigator, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Mark Holdridge, New Horizons Encounter Mission Manager, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
  • Cathy Olkin, New Horizons Deputy Project Scientist, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo.

Related AGU Session:


› Briefing slides (PDF format)


Meet With Scientists About NASA Dwarf Planet and Saturn Missions 

Time: Monday, 15 Dec., 2-4 p.m. PST

The lead scientists for NASA's Dawn mission and researchers on NASA's Cassini mission will be available to speak with reporters on Monday, Dec. 15, in the AGU press room.  Dawn begins its approach to the unexplored dwarf planet Ceres this month, while Cassini is observing seasonal changes on Saturn's moon Titan. 

Dawn: Monday, 15 Dec., 2-3 p.m.

  • Christopher Russell, Dawn Principal Investigator, UCLA
  • Carol Raymond, Dawn Deputy Principal Investigator, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

Cassini: Monday, 15 Dec., 3-4 p.m.

  • Jason Hoffgartner, Cassini radar team associate, Cornell University
  • Christophe Sotin, Cassini infrared spectrometer team member, NASA-JPL

Related AGU Sessions:

P41E-01 (Dawn), P22A-06 (Cassini)

Meet with NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan

​Time: Tuesday, 16 Dec., 9-10 a.m. PST

Named one of CNN.com's 11 most extraordinary people of 2014, NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan will be available to speak with reporters on Tuesday, Dec. 16, in the AGU press room. Her research in planetary science has spanned the solar system from Venus and Earth to Mars and Titan.

Related AGU Session:


Meet with lead scientist for NASA’s Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS)

Time: Wednesday, 17 Dec., 3:30 p.m. PST

The lead scientist for NASA’s Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS), John Yorks of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, will be available to speak with reporters Wednesday, Dec. 17, at 3:30 p.m. PST in the AGU press room. CATS is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station at 10:20 a.m. PST (1:20 p.m. EST) Friday, Dec. 19, on the fifth SpaceX space station resupply flight.

Once mounted on the space station, CATS will measure the character and worldwide distribution of tiny particles that make up haze, dust, air pollutants and smoke. CATS is a groundbreaking science and technology instrument that will show how inexpensive missions can make critical earth science measurements.

Related AGU Sessions:

A13N-01, A23E-3289 (poster), A33N-01

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Page Last Updated: December 18th, 2014
Page Editor: Rob Garner