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


November 2016 32nd Year of Publication


November 8 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 for our venue, so please contact Alberta Moran on her cell phone at 301-910-0177 or via email at not later than noon on Friday, November 4th. Our featured speaker will be Dr. Alexander Marshak, who is an Atmospheric Scientist in the Climate and Radiation Laboratory of the Sciences and Exploration Directorate, will be our featured speaker. As Deputy Project Scientist for the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) mission, his presentation will be entitled “Earth Observations from the First Lagrangian (L1) Point.”
December There will be no GRAA Luncheon due to the many scheduled holiday-related events during the month. Monthly luncheons will resume on Tuesday, January 10, 2017.

COMMENTS FROM TONY COMBERIATE, GRAA PRESIDENT: Our October luncheon speaker was Dr. Lori Glaze, Deputy Director of Goddard’s Solar Exploration Division and Principal Investigator of the Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging (DAVINCI) mission. Her presentation, entitled “Venus: The Forgotten Planet,” discussed what we know about our nearest neighbor and how NASA might go back to a planet that the U.S. has not visited in over 20 years. Venus is a fascinating planet, with its day longer than its year. Because it rotates so slowly (and actually backwards), its shape, unlike Earth, is almost perfectly spherical. Venus’ radius is 85% of that of Earth and has 91% of the gravity of Earth. Although Venus and Earth formed in the inner part of the solar system about the same time, they evolved very differently. Venus’ atmosphere is 96.5% carbon dioxide, with a 15-mile thick cloud of sulfuric acid haze and a surface temperature of 850 degrees Fahrenheit. That is hot enough to melt lead, so the operating lifetime of anything that lands on its surface is less than two hours. The last US mission, Magellan (1989-1994), used a radar instrument to map the surface of Venus from orbit. Understanding why the Venus and Earth atmospheres evolved do differently is a key element in understanding the over 3,000 planets around other stars, recently discovered by the Kepler mission. Dr. Glaze’s interest in Venus led Goddard to propose a new mission to Venus named DAVINCI, a semifinalist in NASA’s Discovery Mission. DAVINCI is a probe, which will make in situ measurements of Venus’ atmosphere and image the surface of a mysterious patterned region during an hour-long journey to the surface. The probe will make definitive measurements of the heaviest noble gases, including krypton and xenon, quantifying their relative abundance. Since these gases do not react with other elements, their abundance has remained constant through Venus’ evolution, while all the other elements have evolved. These measurements, together with high precision measurements of nitrogen, argon, carbon, and sulfur, will provide insight into what Venus’ atmosphere was originally and how it evolved and how it lost its early surface water and how its runaway greenhouse effect happened. Dr. Glaze’s closing thought was that “the DAVINCI mission is another example of Goddard’s increasing role in planetary exploration over the past decades.”

RECENT RETIREES: Mary B. Brown, Angelina A. Hewitt, Kenneth E. Pickering, Susan B. Rambo, and Agnes L. Smith.

TREASURER’S REPORT: Treasurer Jackie Gasch received tax-deductible contributions from the following members: Sandra Brown (in memory of Paul Villone), Alton Jones, Lewis Lenoir, Jr., William Mack, David Pfenning, and Sharon Rubin (in memory of Stanley Rubin and Mary Ellen Shoe).

OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT (OPM) CONTACT INFORMATION: A month or so ago Alberta Moran made Ye Ed aware that she occasionally receives calls from GRAA members about how to contact the OPM about changing benefits they signed up for when they retired. She provided information from an article recently published by the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) in NARFE Magazine with contact information from the OPM. If you have questions for the OPM, either call them at 888-767-6738 or search the OPM website at which can be used for changing your address, tax withholding, and many other routine transactions. If you choose to call, the volume is high, so try calling early in the day. You may also be interested in joining NARFE by accessing their website at - so check it out.

THOUGHT FOR NOVEMBER: Should we forget about eating healthy? At our age, we likely need all the preservatives we can get!


FROM THE GODDARD ARCHIVES – IT HAPPENED IN NOVEMBER: The Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite (FASTSAT) was NASA’s first minisatellite launched by a Minotaur IV launch vehicle from the Kodiak Launch Complex on Kodiak Island, AK, on November 19, 2010. It carried six ionospheric and atmospheric experiments and the objective of the mission was to demonstrate the capability to build, design and test a minisatellite platform to enable government, academic and industry researchers to conduct low-cost scientific and technology experiments on an autonomous satellite in space. Although FASTSAT was essentially managed by Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), the spacecraft carried three atmospheric instruments (the Thermospheric Temperature Imager or TTI, the Miniature Imager for Neutral Ionospheric atoms and Magnetospheric Electrons or MINI-ME), and the Plasma and Impedance Spectrum Analyzer or PISA) built at Goddard in partnership with the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. The other three technology demonstrations, built under the auspices of MSFC, were the Light Detection System or LDS, the NanoSail Demonstration or Nanosail-D, and the Miniature Star Tracker or MST. Although there was a glitch that occurred with the NanoSail-D when it deployed later than expected, the mission turned out to be a tremendous success.