Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Meadows - A Space Odyssey

Many thanks again to Meadows resident, Dr. Andrea Donnelan, for her fascinating presentation at this month's neighborhood meeting. Andrea talked to us about her work at NASA/JPL. She has been studying earthquake movement and predictive methods using InSAR.

InSAR stands for Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar. It's a remote sensing technique that uses radar satellite images to watch and measure the movement of the earth. The radar satellites shoot constant beams of radar waves towards the earth and record them after they bounced back off the Earth's surface.

Everyone was fascinated with the superb presentation.

Funding for the projects is always a need.
This may seem a bit cumbersome, but hang in there. The following is a request from John Rundle, California Hazards Institute of the University of California Director.

After his request, you'll find the sample letter verbiage to send to our Congressperson. This will only take a moment of your time and is critical in securing funding for the project.

Dear InSAR supporters:

As you may know, now is a critical period to contact members of Congress to ask for their support of the InSAR mission DESDynI. If this mission is to be funded, it is vital that our congressional representatives hear from you immediately. I would therefore like to ask you to send an email to members of your congressional delegations asking them to support this mission. It will take no more than 5-10 minutes of your time, but will be immensely valuable in helping to secure the funding for the mission.The following steps are all that are needed.

1. You must first know your 9 digit zip code. If you don't know yours, you can find it at:
Remember to use your home address.

2. Determine the members of your congressional delegation, by going to:

3. Click on the email links to your delegation. Fill in the appropriate information. Cut and paste the attached letter into the box provided, and remember to add the appropriate salutation, along with your name in the signature line. That's all there is to it. Exactly this type of email campaign played a major role in getting funding restored to NSF and DOE earlier this year. That campaign was orchestrated by the American Physical Society.

John Rundle, Director, UC Davis Center for Computational Science and Engineering Professor of Physics, Engineering and Geology University of California, DavisDavis, CA 95616 USA

Verbiage for your letter:
Dear Senator (or Congressperson) *

I would like to call your attention to the recent National Academy of Sciences report "Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond" from the National Research Council (NRC) (, which represents the U.S. scientists’ consensus on critical earth observations from space that are required to address issues for climate change, water resources, ecosystem health, human health, solid-earth natural hazards, and weather.

The DESDynI mission, recommended by the Survey for near-term implementation has direct benefit for and impact on most states within the US. The mission would measure surface and ice sheet deformation for understanding natural hazards and climate, and would measure vegetation structure for understanding ecosystem health. DESDynI would help scientists understand the effects of changing climate and land use on species habitats and atmospheric carbon dioxide, the response of ice sheets to climate change and the impact on sea level, and would be used to improve forecasts of the likelihood of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and landslides. Much of the US is prone to earthquakes and subsidence, and volcanic eruptions occur from Yellowstone westward to Hawaii and Alaska.

The primary technology for DESDynI is Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR), which can be used to very precisely measure change of the surface of the Earth. The US is heavily involved in the development of InSAR technologies and scientists across the country are very involved in studies of surface deformation using InSAR. In fact, InSAR is considered the fourth component of EarthScope a highly successful project to investigate the structure and evolution of the North American continent and the physical processes controlling earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

The recently released NASA budget is woefully inadequate to address the recommendations of the NRC report, commonly known as the "Earth Science Decadal Survey." Sadly, the NRC points out that the funding available for NASA Earth Science missions has decreased by 30% since 2000 after factoring inflation. In the current budget, there will be an additional 18% less available in 2012 for missions than we have today, assuming 3%/year inflation. The NRC states that NASA needs to restore Earth science funding levels to equivalent 2000 levels, in order to implement a "minimal, yet robust, observational component of an Earth information system that is capable of addressing a broad range of societal needs."

Support of the Earth Science Decadal Survey and specifically the DESDynI mission would benefit the US, both in terms of improving our understanding of natural hazards in order to mitigate damage from them, but also for supporting facilities and scientific endeavors located throughout the United States.

Thanks for your consideration and support of this critical NASA mission.

Yours Sincerely,

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