NASA honors University of Alaska Fairbanks vi

NASA has awarded one of its highest national honors to a University of Alaska Fairbanks leader for her work to advance the accessibility of Synthetic Aperture Radar data to users around the world.

UAF Vice Chancellor for Research Nettie La Belle-Hamer received the 2021 NASA Outstanding Public Achievement Medal, which is awarded to a non-governmental individual “for sustained performance that embodies multiple contributions to NASA projects, programs or initiatives”.

The award is one of several agency honors approved by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson for individuals and groups of individuals, governmental and nongovernmental, “who have distinguished themselves by making outstanding contributions to the mission. of the agency”.

La Belle-Hamer served as director of the Alaska Satellite Facility from 2002 until earlier this year, when she left the post after being named vice chancellor for research. She had been Acting Vice-Chancellor since May 2020.

“I am deeply honored by this prestigious award,” said La Belle-Hamer. “When I read the email informing me of this, I was so stunned that I did not move for about 30 minutes. It is a huge honor that reflects not only on me but also on the whole ASF team.

“It has been a privilege to serve with the men and women of ASF for all these years,” she said. “I still believe in the mission as much as I believe in the team.”

Colleagues from UAF and NASA cited La Belle-Hamer’s more than 25 years of work with the space agency as a leader in developing a robust repository of data for researchers around the world. whole.

At ASF before becoming director, La Belle-Hamer directed the ASF Scientific Center, which worked on the development of the data and information system of the Earth observation system. As Director of ASF, she focused on managing NASA’s Distributed Active Archive Center for SAR data supporting polar environmental processes.

“In the 2000s, SAR data was considered very complex and difficult to use,” read the colleagues’ appointment letter. “Its adoption by the scientific community has been limited despite the fact that SAR has significant scientific advantages.

“Dr. La Belle-Hamer has taken several approaches leading his DAAC team to engage the community by making data readily available online, assigning staff to work directly with users to deliver training sessions, and gathering tools to make things easier,” reads the letter.

His colleagues also cited his efforts to move SAR data to the cloud, allowing users to analyze SAR data faster. Under his leadership, the Distributed Active Archive Center has grown from a small system processing terabytes of SAR data to a system that supports over 13 petabytes of data and distributes over 2 petabytes per month to users worldwide.

“She was so successful in publicizing SAR data that users were eager for NASA to develop the next NISAR satellite,” the letter said, referring to the joint dual-frequency satellite mission of NASA and the United Nations. Indian space research.

“His dedication in the leadership role of SAR science systems and data curation will make a difference for generations to come.”

Drew Kittel, director of science operations for NASA’s Goddard Earth Science Data and Information System Project, praised La Belle-Hamer’s dedication to advancing synthetic aperture radar. ESDIS uses ASF and other distributed active records centers to process, archive, distribute and manage data obtained from NASA’s Earth Observation and Information System missions and instruments. .

“Throughout Nettie’s tenure as Director of ASF and Head of ASF’s Distributed Active Archive Center, she and her team have worked passionately as advocates for the use of SAR for the advancement of scientific research and application capabilities,” he said.

“Nettie’s more than two decades of drive, dedication and enduring contributions to NASA’s mission and the vast community of SAR data users are the epitome of public service and have made her a natural candidate. and deserving of NASA’s Outstanding Public Achievement Medal.”

NOTE TO EDITORS: A photograph of Nettie La Belle-Hamer is available here.


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