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


September 2015 31st Year of Publication


September 8 Mark your calendar for the GRAA Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. at Greenbelt American Legion Post #136 at 6900 Greenbelt Road. Reservations are required due to our new venue, so please contact Alberta Moran either on her cell phone at 301-910-0177 or via email at no later than noon on Friday, September 4th. Dr. Paul Hertz, Director of Astrophysics at NASA Headquarters, will be our speaker, with his presentation entitled “NASA’s Astrophysics Program: Present and Future.” The program is the space-based implementation of the nation’s science goals and objectives. The program has been tremendously successful at advancing the frontiers of scientific understanding. It began with the first orbiting astronomical observatories in the 1960s, and it has continued into the current era of the Great Observatories: Hubble Space Telescope (HST), Chandra X-ray Observatory, and Spitzer Space Telescope. NASA’s next large space observatory will be the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), currently under development for launch in late 2018. Beyond JWST, NASA is planning missions to discover how the universe works, explore how it began and evolved, and search for life on planets around other stars.
October 13 Mark your calendar for the GRAA Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science at NASA Headquarters, will speak about the recent exploration of and continuing activity surrounding the dwarf planets Ceres and Pluto by the spacecraft Dawn and New Horizons, respectively. His presentation will be entitled “Worlds Seen for the First Time – Ceres and Pluto.”
November 10 We are hoping NASA Administrator Charles Bolden’s schedule will allow him to attend the luncheon.

COMMENTS FROM RON BROWNING, GRAA PRESIDENT: The presentation by Dr. George Huffmann, Deputy Project Scientist for the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission, at the August luncheon was entitled “Precipitation from Sandbox to the Big Time.” He told how he became a civil servant Meteorologist three years ago after receiving a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, teaching several years at the University of Maryland, and working as a Goddard contractor for 24 years. GPM is a joint NASA/Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency mission launched from Japan on February 27, 2014. Dr. Huffmann showed 3-D (2 km X 200 km wide) color-coded images of global precipitation results from GPM-based data from three instruments. These 3-D images of snow, rain and storms are tracked globally from tropical to 65 degrees latitude. He stated that snow is found at all latitudes above 30,000 feet. GPM microwave imagery gives X-ray-like results which are compared to microwave data accumulated continually since 1987. One practical objective is to detect differences between El Nino and La Nina (El Nino being events associated with a warming of the central and eastern tropical Pacific, while La Nina events are the reverse, with a sustained cooling of these same areas). The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, the forerunner to the GPM, provided data for 17 years. Also shown was a video of a precipitation continuum of the recent typhoon in Taiwan. In closing, Dr. Huffmann described a hyperwall he saw recently which consisted of an array of 800 46-inch television screens. This kind of array can display high resolution data not possible otherwise. Nowadays a meteorologist’s goal is often to capture multi-satellite to create a worldwide view. Visitors can view Goddard’s hyperwall at the Explore@NASAGoddard Open House from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on September 26th.

Dr. Huffmann credited the late Dr. Joanne Simpson, the first woman to ever receive a PhD in Meteorology, with developing techniques for interpolating data between satellite passes.

TREASURER’S REPORT: Treasurer Jackie Gasch received tax-deductible contributions from the following: George Anikis, Albert Boggess, Ronald Browning, JoAnn Clark, Joyce Corley (in memory of Mickey Garrett), Belle Davis, Archie Fitzkee, Don Hutchison, Janet Jew, Aleta Johnson (in memory of Mickey Garrett), William Jones, George Kronmiller, Jr., David Manges, Harley Mann (in memory of Henry Price), Patrick Melia, Reginald Mitchell (in memory of Henry Price), John Pandelides, Alton Payne, Jr. (in memory of Mickey Garrett), Christopher Scherer, E. G. Stassinopoulos, Edward Sullivan, Thomas Underwood, and John Wolsh.

THOUGHT FOR SEPTEMBER: Of course we all talk to ourselves, and it’s because we frequently need expert advice.



GODDARD SEEKS GRAA VOLUNTEERS TO HELP SUPPORT EXPLORE@NASAGODDARD OPEN HOUSE: Not since 2011 has Goddard sponsored an open house for members of the surrounding community. In order to provide an enriching and enlightening experience for the thousands of visitors expected to attend, the Office of Communications is seeking GRAA members to serve as volunteers in directing crowds, explaining missions, and doing dozens of other tasks to help support the upcoming Explore@NASAGoddard Open House on Saturday, September 26th, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Volunteers may select from three different shifts: All day (10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.); Shift 1 (10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.); and Shift 2 (1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.). To sign up to volunteer for this special event, simply contact Jacqueline Lofton, General Volunteer Coordinator in the Office of Communications, at 301-286-3375 or via email at

FROM THE GODDARD ARCHIVES - IT HAPPENED IN SEPTEMBER: On September 18, 1959, a Vanguard rocket launched Vanguard 3 into a geocentric orbit from the Eastern Test Range in Cape Canaveral, FL. The objectives of the flight were to measure the Earth’s magnetic field, the solar X-ray radiation and its effects on the Earth’s atmosphere, and the near-Earth micrometeoroid environment. Instrumentation included a proton magnetometer, X-ray ionization chambers, and various micrometeoroid detectors. Data transmission stopped on December 11, 1959, after 84 days of operation. The data obtained provided a comprehensive survey of the earth’s magnetic field over the area covered, defined the lower edge of the Van Allen radiation belt, and provided a count of micrometeoroid impacts. Vanguard 3 has an expected lifetime of 300 years. Vanguard 3’s Project Manager was Dr. John Townsend and its Project Scientist was Dr. James Heppner.