NASA Administrator Tours Earth Missions Under Construction in California

Image Credit: Nick Ut, AP
Image Credit: Nick Ut, AP

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will visit the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 13, to see progress on two Earth-observing missions currently undergoing preparation for launch in 2014.

Media are invited to accompany Bolden and JPL Director Charles Elachi on the tour at 1:30 p.m. PDT. Bolden will meet with the spacecraft teams, give some brief comments to media and answer questions.

Journalists who want to participate must arrange access through Elena Mejia of JPL Media Relations by 3 p.m. Monday, Aug. 12, by sending an email to

Media who have responded and would like to enter the clean room where the two spacecraft are located must arrive at JPL no later than 12:15 p.m. Aug. 13 to don special gear and have any recording equipment cleaned. Media entering the clean room must wear flat, close-toed shoes and long pants.

Media who do not want to enter the clean room should arrive by 12:45 p.m. to view the event from an enclosed overhead gallery, where an audio feed will be available. Contact Mejia if you have any questions regarding the technical setup and allowable equipment in the clean room.

The spacecraft Bolden will see are the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission, scheduled to launch in October 2014, and the International Space Station (ISS)-RapidScat instrument, which is set for launch to the orbiting laboratory in April 2014.

These missions will add to NASA’s suite of space and airborne research that contribute to scientists’ understanding of weather and climate and efforts to improve life on Earth and protect our planet.

SMAP will produce global maps scientists can use to track water availability around our planet and guide policy decisions. It will improve the accuracy of short-term weather forecasts and long-term projections of climate change and provide vital early-warning information on agricultural crop yields.

ISS-RapidScat is a scatterometer that will be mounted on the exterior of the International Space Station to collect information on the speed and direction of winds near the ocean surface in Earth’s low and mid-latitudes. The instrument also will be used to calibrate other ocean winds satellites. The data it generates will help improve weather forecasts, including tracking of storms and hurricanes, and our understanding of how interactions between Earth’s ocean and atmosphere influence our climate.

JPL manages SMAP for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. ISS-RapidScat is a joint partnership of JPL and NASA’s International Space Station Program Office at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, with support from the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information on NASA’s Earth science program, visit:


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