Press Release

NASA Captures Three “Best of What’s New Awards” from Popular Science Magazine

By SpaceRef Editor
November 8, 2002
Filed under ,

Elvia Thompson
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: 202/358-1696)

Lynn Chandler
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
(Phone: 301/286-2806)

Colleen Sharkey
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
(Phone: 818/354-0372)

NASA’s unprecedented work in Space Science and Earth
Science captured three of Popular Science’s “Best of What’s
New Awards” for 2002.

The Mars Odyssey mission, the Gravity Recovery and Climate
Experiment (GRACE) and the Aqua spacecraft mission were
chosen in the Aviation/Space category. Popular Science will
feature the 100 winners, chosen in 10 categories, in its
December 2002 issue. Popular Science annually reviews
thousands of new products and innovations. To win, a product
or technology must represent a significant step forward in
its category.

Mars Odyssey, part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, has
been in orbit around the red planet for just over one year.
In May, data from the mission astounded the scientific
world, when it pointed to the existence of enormous
quantities of water ice just under the surface of Mars.
Odyssey is also measuring the radiation environment in low
Mars orbit to determine the radiation-related risk to any
future human explorers who may visit the planet.

“The Mars Odyssey project is pleased to be recognized by
Popular Science,” said Roger Gibbs, Mars Odyssey project
manager. “It’s an exciting time, as multiple missions are
venturing out to unravel the mysteries of the red planet.”

GRACE is eight months into its mission to precisely measure
Earth’s shifting water masses and map their affects on
Earth’s gravity field. A gravity field map, which was
created from only 14 days of data, is proving to be
substantially more accurate than the combined results of
more than three decades of satellite and surface instrument
gravity measurements collected before GRACE.

“We’re very excited by the recognition of Grace as a novel
technology for studying Earth system science,” said GRACE
Project Scientist Dr. Michael Watkins. “What makes it unique
is the use of gravity as a new remote sensing tool. We’ll
basically be using these gravity measurements to see changes
in the weight of the water in the ocean and the polar ice
sheets, which has never been done before.”

Aqua is the latest in a series of spacecraft dedicated to
advancing our understanding of global climate and global
change. A central role of Aqua, as the name implies, is to
gather information about water in the Earth’s system. Aqua
is also gathering information about other Earth variables as
well. This information will help scientists all over the
world to better understand the global water cycle and better
understand the interactions within the climate system.

“Aqua and its six Earth-observing instruments are doing
spectacularly well, and it’s a terrific extra bonus to have
a magazine like Popular Science recognize this and award
Aqua one of its ‘Best of What’s New awards,”’ said Dr.
Claire Parkinson, Aqua Project Scientist.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif.,
manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA’s Office of
Space Science. Investigators at Arizona State University in
Tempe, the University of Arizona in Tucson and NASA’s
Johnson Space Center, Houston, operate the science
instruments. Additional science partners are located at the
Russian Aviation and Space Agency and at Los Alamos National
Laboratories, N.M.

GRACE is a joint partnership between NASA and the German
Aerospace Center. The University of Texas’ Center for Space
Research has overall mission responsibility.
GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Germany is responsible for the
German mission elements. JPL manages the U.S. portion of the
project for NASA’s Office of Earth Science. Science data
processing, distribution, archiving and product verification
are managed under a cooperative arrangement between JPL, the
University of Texas’ Center for Space Research and the Geo-
Research Center in Germany.

Aqua is a joint project among the United States, Japan and
Brazil. Overall management of the Aqua mission is located at
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

For more information on Mars Odyssey, see:

For more information on GRACE see:

For more information on Aqua, see:

For more information on the awards see:

SpaceRef staff editor.