P.O. Box 1184, Greenbelt, MD 20768-1184


March 2015 31st Year of Publication


March 10 Mark your calendar for the GRAA Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. at the Greenbelt American Legion Post #136 at 6900 Greenbelt Road. Reservations are required due to our change of venue, so please contact Alberta Moran either on her cell phone at 301-910-0177 or via e-mail at no later than noon on Friday March 6th. Our speaker will be Dr. Paul Newman, Chief Scientist for Atmospheric Sciences in the Earth Sciences Division, who will speak on the Nimbus’ Backscatter Ultraviolet (BUV) and Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) instruments’ contributions to ozone research discovery of the ozone hole.
April 14 Mark your calendar for the GRAA Luncheon at 11:30. The luncheon’s speaker will be Pam Sullivan, Project Manager for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) R-series Flight Project, who will share with attendees GOES-R’s new capabilities and latest status.

COMMENTS FROM TONY COMBERIATE, GRAA VICE PRESIDENT: With President Ron Browning lucky to be basking in the sunny climes of FL, Vice President Tony Comberiate offered up this month’s comments on the presentation by the February luncheon speaker, Dr. Gregory Good, Director for the History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics (AIP) in College Park, MD. Greg described how the impact of space weather has had an increased effect on our world as a function of developing technology. He traced that impact from our first manifestation of the cosmic environment (namely the Northern Lights) to the current day, where space weather can impact our everyday life by affecting things like worldwide communications systems, power grids, air travel, etc. The TELSTAR 401 satellite was lost due to a solar storm in 1994. The effect on communications was first realized in the 1830’s, when disruptions to telegraph lines delayed stock market results. During the early 20th century, the newly invented radios and power systems were sometimes disrupted by space weather events. But it wasn’t until the late 20th century that the understanding of the Sun as the cause of these electromagnetic storms started to emerge. As our technology continues to evolve, the effects of disruptions like the Sun’s coronal mass ejections and the overall radiation environment in space will likely have even a bigger impact. Dr. Good noted that the Center for the History of Physics was established in 1962 to preserve and document the history of modern physics. As part of their efforts, they collect and archive oral histories of scientists, including those at Goddard. However, its endeavors are limited by the availability of funding, which is derived from AIP publications, donors, and benefactors.

TREASURER’S REPORT: Treasurer Jackie Gasch received tax-deductible contributions from the following: Mary Adkins, Robert Groves, Michael Mahoney, John Moore, Thomas Page, and Thomas Underwood.

FROM THE GODDARD ARCHIVES – IT HAPPENED IN MARCH: On March 22, 1982, Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-3) lifted off from Kennedy Space Center, FL, carrying a payload designated the Office of Space Science-1 (OSS-1). The STS-3 mission was the third in a series of four Shuttle missions that constituted the Orbital Flight Test (OFT) program, the primary objective of which was to assess the performance of the Orbiter and its flight systems. The objectives of the nine OSS-1 experiments in the payload were to: (a) conduct observations of the Orbiter’s environment that have applicability to plasma physics and astronomical payloads; (b) conduct scientific observations that demonstrate the Shuttle’s research capabilities; and (c) evaluate technology that may have application in future experiments in space.

UPCOMING NASA MISSION ON THE HORIZON: The Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission is currently targeted for launch on March 12th from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL, on an Atlas V421 rocket. The MMS will study the mystery of how magnetic fields around the Earth connect and disconnect, explosively releasing energy via a process known as magnetic reconnection. The MMS will establish knowledge, methods and technology applicable to future space weather missions and the future growth and development of space weather.

53rd ROBERT H. GODDARD MEMORIAL SYMPOSIUM: The 53rd Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium, hosted by the American Astronautical Society (AAS) will be held March 10th – 12th at the Greenbelt Marriott. [Note: Ye Ed points out that the reception on the evening of March 10th serves as a “meet and greet” mixer]. This year’s theme is “On the Cusp: What’s Next?” Attendance is open to GRAA members (over 65 and no longer working full-time) for only $75, which includes the receptions on all three evenings. If interested in attending the lunches on March 11th and 12th, they can be purchased for $50 on Wednesday and $40 on Thursday. An online reservation form, program agenda, and additional information/instructions can be easily accessed at the top of the AAS homepage at If you decide on attending, simply fill out the online reservation form and forward it as soon as possible (as time is of the essence) with your credit card information .

SATELLITES SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHED: As mentioned in last month’s newsletter, the Soil Moisture Active & Passive (SMAP) satellite and the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite were successfully launched on January 31st and February 11th, respectively.

THOUGHT FOR MARCH: A penny saved is a government oversight.


AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF AERONAUTICS AND ASTRONAUTICS (AIAA) SEEKS VOLUNTEERS: The National Capital Section of AIAA is seeking scientists and engineers to volunteer their time and talents as science fair judges, providing career briefs, and helping present pre-packaged lessons in support of its Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) efforts in schools located in the metropolitan DC area. If you are willing to help in this endeavor, send AAIA an email to and tell them of your interest. An AIAA representative will add you to its STEM volunteer email list and you can see what opportunities are available, pick and choose what may work for you, and delete the rest. If you have specific questions, you may contact Major Tucker “Cinco” Hamilton, STEM Education Founder, on his cell phone at 443-537-3906.

PLEASE KEEP GRAA IN THE LOOP WHEN YOU MOVE: Members are encouraged to notify GRAA when you move permanently to a new address, as it makes it easier to keep our membership database up-to-date . For example, in December we had 30+ newsletters returned by the USPS because members had moved without letting us know - far too many for our volunteers to easily handle in an efficient, effective and timely manner. Your local post office can provide you with change of address forms and GRAA will be much better off for you sending one to us.