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THIS MONTH'S FEATURE ARTICLE
Engineers will be called upon to find solutions for the challenges the world will face in the 21st century. These articles highlight the diversity of the work which continues in the search for those solutions.

Improving Public Health and Safety With Satellites
March 2017

Tracey Holloway leads a group of 13 researchers drawn together as NASA’s Health and Air Quality Applied Sciences Team (HAQAST) who are trying to step outside their community of atmospheric scientists and satellite experts to provide space-based tools to relative laypeople – and to put those new users in a position to shape the way satellite data is collected and used.


Photo of Tracey Holloway courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy.

“We have hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of data from satellites that have been up in space for over 10 years,” says Holloway, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “And we know people have problems they want to solve. And we want to know how we can help.”

Holloway recently presented HAQAST’s brand of public engagement at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“The traditional model of science outreach moves in one direction: scientists disseminating information,” says Holloway. “What’s unusual about our experience with HAQAST is that we’re building a two-way dialogue to move the research along and to make sure that the research is addressing questions of social value.”

The newest Earth-observing satellites deployed by NASA and other agencies around the world are streaming back information about the air we breathe in nearly real time, and with coverage that dwarfs ground-based sensors. They can see atmospheric pollutants like nitrogen dioxide – NO2, a lung irritant that also forms the problematic greenhouse gas ozone – and dust and smoke from storms and fires.

“A big question is how air quality is changing in areas where we don’t have ground monitors,” says Holloway. “States in the Western U.S. may only have one or two monitors, and only in major cities. But there are two instruments in space that can see NO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, and they see the whole world once a day.”

That could be a boon for lawyers, urban planners and doctors tasked with air pollution management and public health decisions trying to track air quality shifts in rural and even suburban areas. But while the satellites take in all the Earth in 24 hours, it can be tough for potential data customers to keep track of cutting-edge science.

“The mission for these folks is to do their job – to keep the air clean, to develop good policies, to protect public health, to understand the problem so they can solve it,” says Holloway. “We don’t want to expect them to read our scientific journals, trying to figure out how to use novel data sources in new ways.”

HAQAST is. And their brand of public outreach involves special issues of industry magazines, visits to meetings of professional organizations and state consortiums, social media, and visits with individual agencies and small groups in an effort to remove any and all barriers.

“A lot of people have no idea where the front door is: ‘Can you just call up a scientist?’” says Holloway. “And they really don’t know if you can ask a scientist to get something you need. We want those questions.”

This article reprinted from materials provided by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.



Feature Articles
Below are listed the 12 most recent Feature Articles.
To see the entire list of Feature Articles, visit the Feature Article Archive.
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Improving Public Health and Safety With Satellites
March 2017

Tracey Holloway leads a group of 13 researchers drawn together as NASA’s Health and Air Quality Applied Sciences Team (HAQAST) who are trying to step outside their community of atmospheric scientists and satellite experts to…

UX Design Center Created
February 2017

A partnership between the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering and Midlothian-based AMC Technology has computer science students building user experience (better known as UX) enhancements…

Improving The Path To More Sustainable Plastics Production
January 2017

The second most-produced organic chemical in the world, propene is a key component of plastics found in consumer goods such as electronics, clothing and food packaging.

Eclipse To Give Scientists Rare Glimpse Into Ionosphere
December 2016

On August 21, 2017, darkness will fall for about three minutes as the moon passes between the sun and the Earth. It will be a busy three minutes for scientists, including George Mason University researchers…

Flexible Solar Panel Goes Where Silicon Cannot
November 2016

In the very near future, recycling light energy may be easier than recycling any other item in your house.

VCU Joins Elite Group To Represent U.S. In International Organization
October 2016

Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) da Vinci Center has been accepted as an official partner of the European Innovation Academy…

Native Americans Featured In New STEM Project
September 2016

Recently, a new project, Natives in STEM, unveiled a unique resource to encourage Native American youth to participate in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Navy Railgun Engineer & STEM Inspires Middle Schoolers at Summer Camp
August 2016

Madeline didn’t know if she liked STEM last year but decided, “eehh, I’ll give it a shot,” and enrolled in a Navy science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) Summer Academy.

Columbus Winner of Unprecedented $40 Million Smart City Challenge
July 2016

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently announced that Columbus, OH has been selected as the winner of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (U.S. DOT)’s Smart City Challenge.

Navy Officials: 3D Printing To Impact Future Fleet with ‘On Demand’ Manufacturing Capability
June 2016

Is it possible to produce parts and equipment from scratch for Sailors – aboard ships and on demand?

Suite of Novel Electronic Systems Developed
May 2016

Woon-Hong Yeo, Ph.D. an assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering, has developed a suite of novel electronic systems that can be mounted on the skin and/ or inserted in the oral cavity.

Flexible Skin Cloaks Objects By Trapping Radar Waves
April 2016

Iowa State University engineers have developed a new flexible, stretchable and tunable “meta-skin” that uses rows of small, liquid-metal devices to cloak an object from radar’s sharp eyes.


Feature Article Archive
 
 
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