Aerospace engineer Jeanine Murphy-Morris has always been interested in flight, and that interest propelled her into a career building Earth-observing satellites. As a college student, she joined the Air Force ROTC program. After graduating from the University of Maryland, College Park with a degree in aerospace engineering, Jeanine was assigned to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. to test missiles. In Feb. 2013, she returned to the base for the first time to witness the launch of the satellite she helped guide into being.
Morris started her NASA career 20 years ago in Fort Wayne, Ind. The job came about, she says, when she was asked to give NASA officials a tour of Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. "The tour became a job interview," says Morris, and soon she had an offer to join NASA as an instrument manager for the GOES satellite program. As instrument manager, she oversaw the development of new instruments for the GOES series of weather satellites. In her 10 years in Fort Wayne, Jeanine saw the delivery of seven sets of instruments for seven GOES satellites.
Morris moved to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. in 2002 to become the instrument manager for the primary instrument on the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM), the Operational Land Imager (OLI). After delivery of the OLI, she became the observatory manager. Morris oversaw the development of the interface between the satellite structure and the two instruments that fly on LDCM. She managed the contracts with the private companies that built the spacecraft and the OLI. After a decade, the LDCM successfully launched from a familiar place, Vandenberg Air Force Base.
With a father in the Air Force, Morris spent her childhood moving from place to place until junior high school, when the family settled in Salisbury, Md. She attended Wicomico Junior and Senior High Schools, and often returned to Salisbury throughout college. Salisbury was the first place Jeanine felt she could call home, and she still has family and friends in the city.
What would she tell students in her hometown? "The first question in my interview to work at NASA was, 'What is your degree?' When I said aerospace engineering, it got me to the next question." Training in aerospace engineering is especially valuable at NASA because it encompasses many branches of engineering, including electrical, thermal, structural, and material engineering and aerodynamics. "An engineering degree opens many doors. It has served me well," says Morris.
Over the years of the Landsat program, the desert city of Las Vegas has gone through a massive growth spurt. The outward expansion of the city over the last quarter of a century is shown here in this timelapse video. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center) › Download video in HD formats › Related story
The Landsat Program is a series of Earth-observing satellite missions jointly managed by NASA and the United States Geological Survey. It revolutionized the way humans view and study our planet. The data series, which began in 1972, is the longest continuous record of changes in Earth's surface as seen from space and the only satellite system designed and operated to repeatedly observe the global land surface at moderate resolution.
LDCM is the eighth satellite in the Landsat series and is the future of Landsat satellites. It successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on Feb. 11, 2013. After an in-flight checkout and calibration period, NASA will pass control of the satellite to the USGS, at which point LDCM will be renamed Landsat 8.
LDCM data is not only fundamental for addressing basic science questions but it will also be a valuable resource for decision makers in such diverse fields such as agriculture, forestry, land use, water resources and natural resource exploration.
These images from LDCM, the newest satellite in the Landsat Program, show Ft. Collins, Colo. Click and drag the slider bar to compare the two views. On the left, the image is shown in natural color, created using data from OLI spectral bands 2 (blue), 3 (green), and 4 (red). The image on the right was created using data from OLI bands 3 (green), 5 (near infrared), and 7 (short wave infrared 2) displayed as blue, green and red, respectively. In the left-hand natural color image, the city's elongated Horsetooth Reservoir, a source of drinking water, lies west of the city. A dark wildfire burn scar from the Galena Fire is visible just to the left of the reservoir. The scar shows up bright, rusty red in the false color image. Credit: USGS/NASA Earth Observatory › Learn more and download images