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NASA Missions Win 'Best of What's New' Awards
NASA Missions Win 'Best of What's New' Awards
8 Nov 2002
(Source: NASA Headquarters)

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)

RELEASE : 02-217

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:
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/odyssey/

For more information on GRACE see:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/grace/

For more information on Aqua, see:
http://aqua.nasa.gov

For more information on the awards see:
http://www.popsci.com

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Last Updated: 12 Nov 2002