JPL Missions Chosen for Popular Science Magazine Award
NASA's unprecedented work in Space Science and Earth Science
captured three of Popular Science's "Best of What's New
Awards" for 2002.
The Mars Odyssey mission and the twin satellites of the Gravity
Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace), managed by NASA's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; and the Aqua spacecraft mission,
managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., were
chosen in the Aviation/Space category. Aqua includes the JPL-managed
Atmospheric Infrared Sounder experiment system. Popular Science
will feature the 100 winners, chosen in 10 categories, in its December
2002 issue. Popular Science annually reviews thousands of new
products and innovations. To win, a product or technology must
represent a significant step forward in its category.
Mars Odyssey, part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, has been in
orbit around the red planet for just over one year. In May, mission data
astounded the scientific world, pointing to the existence of enormous
quantities of water ice just under Mars' surface. Odyssey is also
measuring the radiation environment in low Mars orbit to determine the
radiation-related risk to any future human explorers to the planet.
"The Mars Odyssey project is pleased to be recognized by
Popular Science," said Roger Gibbs, Mars Odyssey project manager
at JPL. "It's an exciting time, as multiple missions are venturing
out to unravel the mysteries of the red planet."
Grace is eight months into its mission to precisely measure Earth's
shifting water masses and map their affects on Earth's gravity field.
A gravity field map, which was created from only 14 days of data, is
proving to be substantially more accurate than the combined results of
more than three decades of satellite and surface instrument gravity
measurements collected before Grace.
"We're very excited by the recognition of Grace as a novel
technology for studying Earth system science," said Grace project
scientist Dr. Michael Watkins. "What makes it unique is the use of
gravity as a new remote sensing tool. We'll basically be using
these gravity measurements to see changes in the weight of the water
in the ocean and the polar ice sheets, which has never been
"This is a very exciting recognition of a significant advancement .
in technology and of our scientific understanding of Earth," said
Grace principal investigator Dr. Byron Tapley of the Center for Space
Research at the University of Texas in Austin. "The extremely
accurate measurements provided by the Grace twin satellites allow us
to determine variations associated with the mass exchange between
Earth's atmosphere, ocean and solid earth. These signals are
important in understanding global climate change."
Aqua is the latest in a series of spacecraft dedicated to advancing
our understanding of global climate and global change. A central role of
Aqua is to gather information about water in Earth's system. Aqua is
also gathering information about other Earth variables as well. This
information will help scientists all over the world to better understand the
global water cycle and better understand the interactions within the
climate system. Aqua's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder spectrometer and
its two companion instruments-the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit
and the Humidity Sounder for Brazil--will measure Earth's atmosphere
and surface, allowing scientists to improve weather prediction and observe
changes in Earth's climate.
"Aqua and its six Earth-observing instruments are doing
spectacularly well, and it's a terrific extra bonus to have a magazine like
Popular Science recognize this and award Aqua one of these
awards," said Dr. Claire Parkinson, Aqua Project Scientist.
JPL manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA's Office of
Space Science. Investigators at Arizona State University in Tempe, the
University of Arizona in Tucson and NASA's Johnson Space Center,
Houston, operate the science instruments. Additional science partners
are located at the Russian Aviation and Space Agency and at Los Alamos
National Laboratories, N.M.
Grace is a joint partnership between NASA and the German
Aerospace Center. The University of Texas' Center for Space Research
has overall mission responsibility. GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam,
Germany is responsible for the German mission elements. JPL manages
the U.S. portion of the project for NASA's Office of Earth Science.
Science data processing, distribution, archiving and product verification
are managed under a cooperative arrangement between JPL, the
University of Texas Center for Space Research and the Geo-Research
Center in Germany.
Aqua is a joint project among the United States, Japan and Brazil.
Overall management of the Aqua mission is located at NASA's
Goddard Space Flight Center.
For more information on Mars Odyssey, see:
For more information on Grace see:
For more information on Aqua, see:
For more information on the awards see: