Spring has Sprung: Looking Back at the 2019 Spring Term

Spring has Sprung: Looking Back at the 2019 Spring Term

The Spring 2019 NASA DEVELOP term came to a close in April. In a short 10-weeks, DEVELOP teams across the country addressed pressing environmental concerns by creating tools using NASA Earth observations to inform decision-makers about the environmental challenges they face. Working on 16 different projects, 62 DEVELOPers engaged with 39 partner organizations who work to manage our cities, public lands, and environmental resources. DEVELOP teams used the unique vantage point of space to create informative tools to be used today and in years to come.

While our teams worked to map wetlands, assess invasive species habitat, and evaluate evapotranspiration models, participants also found time to present their work. At the beginning of the term, DEVELOPers from across the program presented projects at the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing conference in Denver. In March, a group of Fellows attended the Natural Capital Symposium in San Francisco to learn about ecosystem services models. In Huntsville, participants presented their work at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Research Horizons, and the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) Technology, and Engineering Jamboree. During the final week of the term, DEVELOP held a special session at the American Association of Geographers in Washington, DC. Six participants presented on the impact of NASA Earth observations and their applicability for five unique projects.

Joint Closeouts Across the Country

To conclude the term, participants showcased their work at closeout events across the country. Closeouts enable project teams to present to a larger audience, including Earth scientists, partner organizations, and the greater community. Among our 12 nodes, seven closeout events were held which united DEVELOPers from regional nodes and NASA Centers.

At NOAA’s National Center for Environmental Information, the team from Athens, GA joined the North Carolina (NC) node for the southeast regional closeout. The teams presented their work to NOAA scientists, DEVELOP alumni, and live streamed the event for the general public and program participants at nodes across the US. The event began with the debut of their project videos and technical presentations. The NC Texas Water Resources team presented their project’s results on drought in the urban landscapes of Texas. Following their presentation, the GA team presented Talamanco-Osa Ecological Forecasting which assessed jaguar habitat fragmentation in Costa Rica. To conclude the day, the teams held a poster session to further the dialogue and scientific exchange between program participants, scientists, and event attendees.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) DEVELOP team hosted teams from NASA’s Langley Research Center (LaRC) and Boston, MA in a joint final presentation. All of the teams presented to Goddard scientists, project partners, DEVELOP alumni, family members, and representatives from DEVELOP’s National Program Office. The day began with tours of the Earth Observing System Mission Operations Center and the Integration & Testing Facilities, where numerous Earth science missions were developed and are currently managed. In the afternoon, the four teams presented their findings. Projects from LaRC highlighted the impact of urbanization on heat and flooding in Providence, RI and Elizabeth, NJ, as well as the impact of changing land use in the Patuxent Watershed using Landsat products. The Boston Niagara Falls Disasters team studied flooding disasters around Lake Ontario using a variety of Earth observations to evaluate flood risk. The Chesapeake Bay Agriculture and Food Security III team presented their finalized assessment of cover crops. The teams then had a poster session where they answered specific questions and engaged with each other and the audience.

Alabama teams united at NASA’s MSFC for their joint closeout in the National Space, Science, and Technology Center where both NASA, the National Weather Service, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) scientists reside. The day began with their presentations to NASA and UAH scientists, project partners, local businesses, DEVELOP alumni, and the community. The Alaska Disasters team, who evaluated various indices for wildfire susceptibility, started off the presentations, followed by the Weeks Bay Water Resources team who modeled water quality parameters in southern Alabama. The Iowa Agriculture and Food Security team rounded out the presentations as they presented their work with the recently launched ECOSTRESS mission. After the presentations, the teams had an open house where they debuted their project videos and delved into the data with interactive displays. In closing, the teams from Mobile and MSFC enjoyed a trip to the US Space and Rocket Center.

Meanwhile in California, the Tempe, AZ team joined the teams at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for their joint closeout event. The closeout event occurred in the Earth and Space Science Laboratory Building on JPL’s campus. Coincidentally, all three projects that were presented featured NASA Earth observations as well as the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 C-Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). A majority of the JPL scientists have expertise in SAR, so the audience was very engaged throughout the event. To conclude the event, each team showcased their project videos, which used creative graphics to communicate the applicability of Earth observations.

DEVELOPer of the Term

The success of the Spring term is a testament to the hard work and dedication of DEVELOP participants. Every term, DEVELOP awards one participant that embodies the core values of the program with the title of DEVELOPer of the Term. For the Spring 2019 term, Carl Jurkowski was selected as the DEVELOPer of the Term. As the project lead for the Argentina Water Resources team based at the Idaho node, Carl developed skills in project management as he oversaw a project in two countries and two languages - even making two videos to accommodate for the English and Spanish speaking partners. The Idaho Fellow, Dane Coats, said, “When challenges arose for the project, Carl stepped up to get project deliverables done on time. Carl has the DEVELOP collaborative spirit, and can represent the DEVELOP brand well on the world stage.” Congratulations to Carl for being selected as the Spring 2019 DEVELOPer of the Term!

Virtual Poster Session Competition

Every term NASA DEVELOP teams create project videos that highlight the impact of Earth observations on local communities and their decision-makers. These videos are a unique and creative way to communicate the project's purpose and outcomes to a variety of audiences. DEVELOP project videos can be found on our project pages, YouTube channel, Facebook and Twitter. This term our project teams brought innovative ideas and creative solutions to their project videos making for fierce competition all around. They received inputs from their domestic and international partners, created their own detailed animations, and traveled to their study areas to film video footage for themselves.

This competitive session went through four rounds of judging. In the end, the Texas Water Resources project from DEVELOP’s NC node emerged as the winner of the Spring 2019 Virtual Poster Session Competition. Congratulations to the team for an excellent video that engaged with their partners and creatively depicted the applicability of NASA Earth observations. Watch their video and the rest of the Spring portfolio on our YouTube channel.

While the Spring 2019 DEVELOP term is complete, the future is still bright as we turn our focus to the Summer 2019 term. This Summer we are looking forward to engaging with new participants and partners, and sharing our work at the Annual Earth Science Applications Showcase on August 1st in Washington, DC. Be on the lookout for a Summer preview.

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