List of "In the Spotlight" Features
New Ocean Data from Suzanna Barth and CCAR
For Sea Surface Data, there is now, exciting NASA TOPEX and ERS-1 data to illustrate Sea Heights. This means students can look at how ocean heights and eddies relate to animal location and movement.
Before she went back to school, Suzanna worked with scientists at NASA-Ames on a research aircraft that flew around the world using specialized instruments to look at volcanoes, the motion of the Earth's continents, and ozone research. These projects took her to Alaska, the coast of Antarctica, Thailand, and Chile as she provided engineering support to the scientists. Some of the instruments they used were further developed to fly on the Space Shuttle.
Suzanna started working as a technical writer and software engineer for jet aircraft, then discovered she loved working with instruments and scientists who wanted to study changes in the Earth, the behavior of animals, and changes in the Earth's atmosphere. She then decided to go back to school and become an engineer who worked with these scientists.
The satellite SEA HEIGHT imagery is taken by bouncing radar from a satellite to the ocean and back, and measuring the amount of time it takes to make the round trip. Information from the radar bounce is used to determine sea surface height, ocean waves and currents, and surface winds. In order to determine sea surface height changes in the range of a few centimeters, engineers and scientist must know the precise orbit of the satellite, variations in the shape of the Earth, how much water vapor (clouds) is in the path of the bouncing radar signal, the drag on the satellite as it comes in contact with the Earth's atmosphere, and even the state of the sun and solar flares which also changes the exact orbit of the satellite. After all these (and many more) corrections are made, engineers give scientists pictures like the one below.
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(NASA Award: NCC5433)