CYGNSS Launch Weekend Continues: A Day of Science Communication

December 10th, 2016 by Mary Morris

You’re probably wondering why I’m down at NASA KSC so early before launch day. We’re not down here relaxing on the beach; the weekend before launch is packed with events. For example, just today, I participated in our CYGNSS Science Team meeting and two press events.

Earlier today, I kicked off our science team meeting by presenting the results from the last couple chapters of my dissertation.

Here I am, presenting my work at the CYGNSS science team meeting. Photo credit: EJ Olsen

Here I am, presenting my work at the CYGNSS science team meeting. Photo credit: EJ Olsen

The science team meeting is basically a mini symposium. It gives those involved with the project a chance to show their results, collaborate, and get feedback from others. An extended science team has grown from the original list of scientists and engineers that wrote the proposal. There are two main things that I have been pleasantly surprised by as I have worked on this project: 1) There are many institutions involved with CYGNSS, and 2) CYGNSS science applications are not limited to hurricane science.

Today, at the science team meeting, these two things were very apparent. NASA scientists are not the only ones interested in the success of CYGNSS. For example, a number of collaborators work at NOAA and the Naval Research Laboratory and these scientists are interested in figuring out how to use CYGNSS data to improve weather forecasts. Over the past few years, I have seen a number of presentations from CYGNSS team members from many different institutions that have shown that simulated CYGNSS data can positively impact the skill of weather models. It has been illuminating for me—someone who has never done any of this type of work—to see what types of experiments scientists choose to perform, and what questions they seek to answer. Many on the science team are excited about assimilating the on-orbit CYGNSS data for the first time during this upcoming year.

Another interesting aspect of CYGNSS that you may be surprised by is that CYGNSS data will have a wide range of applications outside of hurricane science. A number of scientists are looking into figuring out how to use CYGNSS data for other areas of interest: soil moisture, extratropical storms, and the Madden-Julian Oscillation are just a few out of many research topics that scientists are currently experimenting with now. The techniques used for CYGNSS are still relatively new, and it will be interesting to see how science applications develop after CYGNSS launches, with new on-orbit data.

There are always many things to learn at science team meetings. Here is a picture of the entire group that came down to Florida to participate in the science team meeting in person:

CYGNSS Science Team members get together to meet and discuss new findings, as well as prepare for the first year of science operations. Participants included: Nancy Baker, Charles Bussy-Virat, Matt Buchanan, Tim Butler, Kenny Carlsen, Juan Crespo, Maurizio di Bisceglie, Lilli Galdi, Jim Garrison, Joel Johnson, Stephen Katzberg, Mark Leidner, Xuanli Li, Sharan Majumdar, Darren McKague, Brian McNoldy, Mary Morris, Stephen Musko, Andrew O'Brien, Jeonghwan Park, Derek Posselt, Zhaoxia Pu, Aaron Ridley, Emily Riley, Chris Ruf, Kaitie Schoenfeldt, Bill Schreiner, Seubson Soisuvarn, Tianlin Wang, Xiaosu Xie, Valery Zavorotny (Some not pictured, as they participated remotely.) Photo credit: Aaron Ridley

CYGNSS Science Team members get together to meet and discuss new findings, as well as prepare for the first year of science operations. Participants included: Nancy Baker, Charles Bussy-Virat, Matt Buchanan, Tim Butler, Kenny Carlsen, Juan Crespo, Maurizio di Bisceglie, Lilli Galdi, Jim Garrison, Joel Johnson, Stephen Katzberg, Mark Leidner, Xuanli Li, Sharan Majumdar, Darren McKague, Brian McNoldy, Mary Morris, Stephen Musko, Andrew O’Brien, Jeonghwan Park, Derek Posselt, Zhaoxia Pu, Aaron Ridley, Emily Riley, Chris Ruf, Kaitie Schoenfeldt, Bill Schreiner, Seubson Soisuvarn, Tianlin Wang, Xiaosu Xie, Valery Zavorotny (Some not pictured, as they participated remotely.) Photo credit: Aaron Ridley

In addition to attending the science team meeting, I was asked to participate in press events today. It was fascinating to see what types of questions that the press and other audiences had during these events. My communication skills had to stretch across a large range of audiences today. I started off the day talking about my work to the science team in a more technical way, and ended the day talking to reporters and more general audiences. CYGNSS continues to be a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience for me.

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Behind the scenes from a Facebook live event: my research advisor (and CYGNSS PI), Prof. Chris Ruf, and I talk about what we’re excited to see from CYGNSS after launch, with the aircraft and rocket carrying CYGNSS into orbit in the background. Photo credit: Aaron Ridley

CYGNSS Science Press Brief, From left to right: Sean Potter, Chris Ruf, Aaron Ridley, and me (Mary Morris). Photo Credit: Frank Marsik

CYGNSS Science Press Brief, From left to right: Sean Potter, Chris Ruf, Aaron Ridley, and me (Mary Morris). Photo credit: Frank Marsik

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Notes from the Field