People of PACE: Fred Huemmrich Plants the Seeds of Inspiration

Fred Huemmrich is a member of NASA’s Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) science and applications team and a research professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

What is your favorite atmosphere, land, or ocean related book or movie?

“Dune.” To be specific, I really liked the appendix of Dune which has the story of the imperial planetologists, and when I read that as a kid it was the first time I ever thought of the concept of looking at an entire planet’s ecosystem. So, my goal in life is always to become an imperial planetologist.

The image is a selfie of a bearded man seen from the shoulders up. He is wearing a dark green zip-up jacket, and also has glasses on. Behind him are scientific instruments, which look like long metal rods standing up as well as some buckets. In the far background is a grassy field and a clear blue sky.
Fred on top of an instrument tower at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. Image Credit: Fred Huemmrich

How will PACE help your research?

One of the things that I’m really interested in is the dynamic of ecosystems on land, and how they change over time. PACE really excites me because it’s an opportunity to look – with new, hyperspectral data – at seasonal dynamics of these ecosystems, or even shorter-term effects like droughts or heat stress or cold snaps. With the hyperspectral data available from PACE and OCI we’ll be able to do things like look at changes in leaf level pigment contents and biochemistry. Plants are constantly altering themselves to adjust to the environment and that is something we can see from data on the light that reflects off them. I’m really excited about PACE giving us this data of time series for vegetation types all over the world.

What are you most looking forward to after launch?

I envision doing a study, looking at the indices of plant conditions globally, after the first month of data. I’m going to make a global map because we just don’t even know what it will look like. That’s going to be the first step after launch.

OCI on PACE is going to be able to look at all the colors of the rainbow. What is your favorite color and why?

My favorite color is one you can’t see! Almost all the light that hits plant leaves in the visible wavelengths gets absorbed, except there’s a little hump in the green that they don’t quite absorb as much, which is why we see them as green. But just beyond what we can see, in the near-infrared, leaves have almost no absorption. If we could see leaves in the near-infrared it would almost be like looking at like highway signs that like reflect light back on you really brightly. In green leaves the transition from the visible wavelengths to the near infrared wavelengths is called the red edge and measuring it gives you a lot of information about how much chlorophyll is in leaves.

Do you have a favorite plant?

The image is a selfie of a man seen from the shoulders up. He is wearing a dark colored shirt and has a netted material covering his entire heat. His face can be seen through the netting and he is wearing glasses and has a beard. Behind him is a large grassy field. The sky is bright blue and has some white fluffy clouds.
Fred doing fieldwork in the arctic tundra dealing with the mosquitos. Image Credit: Fred Huemmrich

One that I’m fond of is black spruce. Over the years I’ve done a fair amount of work in the boreal forests. In fact, just last this past summer I was doing fieldwork in the boreal forests in Alaska. I’m really interested in seeing if we can use the PACE data to detect changes in the spruce needle biochemistry that we can’t do with the satellites we have now.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I worked my way through college in a brewery!

What is some advice that you would give to aspiring scientists who are looking to be where you are today?

A man stands on the left side of the image, seen from the knees up. He is wearing brown khaki pants and a button up shirt which is rolled up at his elbows. He also has glasses on. He looks to his right (the left in the image) and is pointing to a map projected onto a screen to the right of the image. The map is of ice-covered areas in the ocean.
Fred presenting results of arctic tundra research at Grey Towers National Historic Site in Milford, PA. Courtesy: Fred Huemmrich

One of the pieces of advice I give to my undergraduate students is that when I was an undergraduate, not only did I not know what I was going to end up doing, I didn’t know that what I ended up doing even existed. Very often undergraduates don’t have a lot of experience in the range of jobs available in the world. And that’s, of course, changing all the time with technology. One of the things that’s important for them to do is to look around and try to get outside of a narrow thing that they’re focused on, and spread out a little bit to look at what might be available because they might be surprised at what they find.

What is one catch-all statement describing the importance of PACE?

PACE is going to give us a fundamentally new view of the way ecosystems work on the planet.

Header image caption: Fred measuring spectral reflectance and photosynthesis in a cornfield. These types of measurements are used to develop approaches for applying PACE data to determine crop productivity. Courtesy: Fred Huemmrich

By Erica McNamee, Science Writer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA’s PACE Spacecraft Mated to Payload Adapter

NASA's PACE spacecraft is fitted to the payload adapter.
NASA and SpaceX technicians connect NASA’s PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) spacecraft to the payload adapter on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024, at the Astrotech Space Operations Facility near the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA Goddard/Denny Henry

NASA and SpaceX technicians connected NASA’s PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) spacecraft to the payload adapter on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, at the Astrotech Space Operations Facility near the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

Now that PACE is securely attached to the payload adapter, teams will encapsulate the spacecraft inside the protective payload fairings ahead of integration with the Falcon 9 rocket.  

The PACE mission will increase our understanding of Earth’s oceans, atmosphere, and climate by delivering hyperspectral observations of microscopic marine organisms called phytoplankton, as well new measurements of clouds and aerosols.  

PACE is set to launch from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida no earlier than 1:33 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Feb. 6. 

The PACE project is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The agency’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy Space Center, is responsible for managing the launch service for the PACE mission. 

People of PACE: Jeroen Rietjens Followed His Passions to SPEXone and PACE

Jeroen Rietjens is an instrument scientist at the Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON) and worked on the SPEXone polarimeter. PACE’s SPEXone instrument is a multi-angle polarimeter. It measures the intensity, degree and angle of linear polarization of sunlight reflected back from Earth’s atmosphere, land surface, and ocean.

What is your favorite atmosphere or ocean related book or movie?

I like “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell a lot. It doesn’t have anything to do with clouds except for the title, but it counts. And it concludes with an ‘oceanic’ wisdom when the impact of actions by individuals are compared to insignificant small drops in a limitless ocean: “Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?”

The image is focused in on a man to the left of the image wearing glasses and a blue and red short sleeved polo short. He wears a headset, where the wire is hanging down past the far side of his head. He is pointing at a computer screen which is in the background of the image. In front of him, but out of focus in the iamge are two other people, one sitting next to the man and one sitting across from him, closer to the camera. At the table they are sitting at are computers, coffee mugs, and water bottles.
Jeroen looking at instrument telemetry in the PACE I&T control room shortly after the integration of SPEXone onto the PACE observatory. Image Credit: Dennis Henry

What is your background?

I have a background in applied physics, and I worked with polarization sensitive instrumentation for my master’s and PhD research. At SRON, I work as an instrument scientist. We are the people who fill the gap between the scientists who have great ideas about what they want to measure, and the engineers who build the hardware that perform these measurements. We specify the instruments and do the analysis and make sure that the hardware will survive in space and perform as the scientists desire.

What are you most looking forward to during launch?

It concludes a long period of tremendous work and I hope that we can experience that with all the people who contributed to PACE.

The focal point of the image is the bright sun, centered. Two reflections of the sun are seen to the left and right of the main bright spot. Below the sun is a grassy landscape with a bush directly below the sun. The sky is a dark blue color.
An image of a sundog, one of the most common types of ice halos. Image Credit: Adam Voiland

What is your favorite color and why?

My favorite color is green. The why is more difficult. My second favorite color would be blue, so I think it’s colors from nature that I like.

The image looks down from a plane, looking at an expanse of fluffy clouds. Centered in the image is a glory, a faint circular rainbow.
A glory photographed from 11 km altitude somewhere between Greenland and Canada as Jeroen was coming into the US to watch the 2017 solar eclipse. Image Credit: Jeroen Rietjens

Do you have a favorite atmospheric phenomenon?

I like rainbows a lot! And any other scattering phenomena, such as a glory, or a sundog. The latter occurs in the presence of high clouds with ice crystals: due to refraction by horizontally aligned ice crystals, you can see two additional ‘suns’ at specific angles left and right of the sun.

A man and a woman are standing side by side, the man to the left with his arm around the woman's shoulder. They both have glasses on and their faces are covered in a glittery face paint. They wear green, yellow, and red striped shirts and black vests that have colorful puns on them. They both have large hats upon their heads with green, yellow, and red spirals on them. The lighting in the room is dim and there are streamers hanging on the walls behind them.
Jeroen and his wife in their parade costume of 2020. Image Credit: Jeroen Rietjens



What is a fun fact about yourself?

Outside of work, and mainly during the winter period, me and my family participate in the “Vastelaovendj”-activities in my home-village. This is the Limburgse (a Dutch province) carnival, consisting of, among other things, a yearly music contest, open stage, presentation of the Prince Carnival, a ‘peasant’s wedding’ and a parade. It is a lot of fun and I particularly like the role-reversal aspect of this tradition.

What advice would you give to aspiring scientists or engineers who are looking to get where you are today?

Follow your passion. I had a weakness for space. I was playing with a Space Shuttle and Lego rockets when I was young and was always interested in space. Along the way, I lost track of it but it’s not really a coincidence, I think, that I still ended up working at a space research institute. So, follow your passion and try to make work your hobby and I think you have awesome life.

What is one catch-all statement describing the importance of PACE?

PACE will yield unprecedented data sets that will enhance research into climate modeling, understanding clouds and aerosols and their impact on the Earth climate.

The image shows a landscape of a neighborhood with grass areas, streets, and some houses to the left at the horizon. There are som trees in the center as well as a lamp post. The sky is cloudy and a gray color. The featured part of the image isa double rainbow, spanning from the entire left to right of the image. The inner rainbow is brighter while the outer rainbow is faint.
An atmospheric treat for Jeroen during a bicycle-ride coming home from work. Image Credit: Jeroen Rietjens

Header image caption: “Very proud to have had the opportunity to pose in the Goddard cleanroom with the fully assembled and tested PACE satellite, which hosts our small SPEXone instrument,” said Rietjens. Image Credit: Dennis Henry

By Erica McNamee, Science Writer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

People of PACE: Natasha Sadoff Connects PACE Data to Benefit Society

Natasha Sadoff is the deputy coordinator for the applications program and PACE.

What is your favorite ocean or atmosphere related book or movie?

Probably “The Little Mermaid.” It’s a whole other world with the wildlife (and mermaids) in their own kingdom, so it just makes the ocean very magical.

The picture is taken from below the water, looking upwards at a woman who is floating facedown. She is wearing a black wetsuit and has a blue floating device around her waist. She is signaling two "okay" signs to the camera. The bottom third of the image shows the rocky reef, and is a dark brown color with some light blue reflections of the water on it. The middle third of the image shows the deep blue of the open water in the background. The top third of the image is still underwater, but is closer to the surface, so reflections of the light blue sky are distorted and rippling.
Before a conference in Australia, Natasha took a two-day snorkeling trip to the Great Barrier Reef! “It was one of the most incredible things I’ve done,” she said. Credit: Natasha Sadoff

What is your background?

I’m a social scientist and a geographer, and I have a broad background in environmental management. I think about the information and data that environmental managers might need, and how to translate data from a satellite in a way that makes it more usable and actionable for them. Part of my job is to serve as a liaison between the scientists and data managers working on PACE and the community of users that will put the data to use – and make sure that PACE data will be accessible, usable, and actionable for the community.

What are you most looking forward to during launch?

The energy at launch is just going to be crazy, with everybody who’s worked so hard for nearly two decades getting together. We’ll be happy once it’s in the air and in space and getting data, but when we’re at launch, it’s out of our hands. So, it’s a time to celebrate and be together and be excited.

I’m also excited because it’s a nighttime launch, scheduled for 1:30 in the morning, so I think that adds a neat air to it because it’s going to be so beautiful with the night sky. I’ve seen some photographs of other missions getting launched at night and it just seems like the visuals will be magnified in the middle of the night.

We know that OCI is going to be looking at all the different colors of the rainbow with its hyperspectral abilities. What is your favorite color and why?

I like the richness and depth of the blues and the purples. It makes me think of the nighttime or space!

The image is centered on a woman riding a brown horse that has black hair. The woman wears a black jacket and riding pants and also has on a helmet. The horse appears to be in movement, cantering, with its tail swishing, and is facing the right side of the image. The ground they are riding on is a dirt pasture, and behind them lies a grove of green trees with green grass below it.
In her free time, Natasha rides and trains her horse, Elena, and compete locally in dressage shows. Credit: Austen Gage

What is a fun fact about yourself that not a lot of people might know about?

I have a horse and so most nights and weekends I am riding and training and working with my horse. Her name is Elena and she’s sassy. You know when people have a pet and it’s like their son, their daughter? People joke that Elena is my sister because she’s so opinionated and very stubborn. So, we have kind of a love/hate relationship in our training. She teaches me patience and resilience every day!

A woman stands in front of a set of nine screens, which together show an image of part of the Earth, with the PACE logo above it. She is wearing a black dress and holds a microphone. The woman is facing a group of people who have their backs to the camera and are watching the woman present.
For PACE Applications, Natasha regularly gives presentations and talks to audiences of all kinds about PACE science and applied uses of the data. In this presentation, she was talking to engineering students in Singapore. Credit: Natasha Sadoff

What advice would you give to aspiring scientists who are looking to get where you are today?

There’s not a linear path, and there doesn’t have to be a linear path. I know a few of us who don’t have the traditional science PhD background love to say this: There’s a role for everybody at NASA. Whether you’re in communications and marketing or whether you’re in science, or whether you’re somewhere in between (which is kind of like me), there’s a role for you at NASA. While STEM is obviously huge and critical and we need more women and we need more minorities in STEM, we also need people in the social sciences. STEM is only as good as our ability to communicate about it and talk to people about it.

Header image caption: Before the PACE observatory left for Kennedy, Natasha had the opportunity to get into a “bunny-suit” and experience what it was like to enter the PACE clean room! Credit: Denny Henry

By Erica McNamee, Science Writer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

People of PACE: Jeremy Werdell is the PACE Mission Scientific Conscience

Jeremy Werdell is the project scientist for the PACE mission as well as a biological oceanographer in the Ocean Ecology Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

What is your favorite ocean- or atmosphere-related book or movie?

“Jaws!” And it’s not close. “Jaws.” Best movie, without question, ever made.

What are you most looking forward to on the night of launch?

The operation of the spacecraft and instruments. I am going to be an absolute nervous wreck the entire time and it won’t be until systems engineering and project management tell me that everything is okay and that the fun is now going to begin that I will finally breathe easy. So, yeah, the transition from “holy crap” to “it’s all working!”

A man stands on the right side of the image seen from the shoulders up. He is wearing a white clean suite that covers over his head and forehead as well as a white mask that covers his nose and mouth. Behind him and to the left in the image is a spacecraft, PACE. Several parts of the spacecraft are covered in a silver-colored foil-like material. The room that the man and the spacecraft are in has very large ceilings which are seen in the background of the selfie.
Jeremy Werdell wearing in a “bunny suit” or cleanroom suit to get up close and personal with the PACE observatory. Credit: Jeremy Werdell/NASA

What are you most looking forward to after the night of launch?

Watching the energy emerge within and across our communities. I’m enjoying taking on the role of making sure the mission is as good as it can be so that it’s something our community can grow into. It is a gift from NASA and the government and community that preceded me to this next generation of scientists that can and will do something amazing.

The Ocean Color Intrument (OCI) on PACE is going to to show us colors of the ocean in a hyperspectral range, which is like using a box of 256 crayons instead of the previous boxes of 8 colored crayons. So, of all the colors in the large crayon box, what is your favorite color and why?

Green, and specifically the wavelength 532 nanometers. That exact green, for two reasons: One, for some weird reason, my family, including my wife, all jibe with green. Two, when I first started a master’s degree at the University of Connecticut, I was learning how to use a spectrophotometer and my advisor, Collin, pointed out a green beam within it and said “532 nanometers, it’s a beautiful color.” That has always stuck with me.

A man wearing a black hoodie takes a selfie. In front of him is a loaf of light tan, freshly baked bread, which takes up the entire length of the image, left to right. The bread is resting on a cooling rack.
Jeremy’s latest loaf of bread, fresh from the oven. Credit: Jeremy Werdell

What’s a fun fact about yourself that not a lot of people might know about you?

I tell almost anybody who will listen that I’d rather be a professional chef than a scientist. In fact, I even have a chef’s knife tattoo now.

I’ll cook anything. I use cooking as therapy – my mental health improves by just standing in the kitchen after work. My wife and I started cooking as a couple when we first had kids because we weren’t leaving the house as often.  But, eventually I kind of just elbowed everybody else out of the kitchen and spent most of my time there.

What is some advice that you would give to aspiring scientists that are looking to be where you are today?

Three things. The one thing that I think got me to where I am within Goddard was the opportunity when I was early in my career to spend a lot of time writing papers and interacting with the science community, including organizing workshops. I had a lot of latitude to get out and about, above and beyond my day-to-day activities.  I found that writing and external engagements to be very good ways to get the community to know me.

A man stands in the image upon a stage. The black stage takes up a majority of the bottom half of the image. The man holds a microphone and is looking to the right in the image, out to the audience. Behind him to the right is a bright red curtain, and to the left is a projected image of a presentation, which is on a slide that is mostly blue and purple in color.
Werdell presenting PACE and NASA Earth Science at Nerd Nite in San Francisco several weeks ago. Credit: Jennifer Werdell

The second thing, which I tell any early career scientist that will listen, is to serve on as many research panels for NASA headquarters as you can. It’s very empowering to sit on the other side of the table and digest the evaluation side of the process. What you learn from doing this really improves the quality of the proposals that you write and, whether anyone likes it or not, being successful in “proposal land” does have its advantages in terms of career advancement.

Third, public speaking. Spend as much time getting out of your comfort zone and talking to anybody who will listen in front of any stage. I can’t stress this enough. Start when you’re in high school. I know most kids hate standing in front of the audience, but you will be so much better at what you do if you can do this. Even if you’re not good at it, don’t fret, just keep at it and find some comfort with it. Eventually the quality will come.

What is one catch-all statement that you would say describing the importance of PACE?

All citizens of the Earth should realize everything is connected: land, ocean, and atmosphere. PACE is NASA’s next great investment in the combined studies of all these aspects of the Earth’s system. With its capabilities, there’s so much scientific growth that will be accomplished, which makes PACE incredibly important to how we understand what we’re doing to our home planet.

A man wearing a blue T-shirt with a spaceship printed on it, takes a selfie, taking up the right side of the image. He is sitting at a table at a restaurant with a plate of food in front of him. In the background of the image is a white boat with one man sitting on it. It is floating in a harbor, the water calm and blue.
Jeremy took a quiet moment with all of his favorite things – food, water, sunshine. Credit: Jeremy Werdell

Header image caption: Enjoying the PACE scale model on display at SRON in the Netherlands. Credit: Jeremy Werdell/NASA

By Erica McNamee, Science Writer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA Hosts Media Viewing of Spacecraft to Study Oceans, Clouds

Media visit NASA's PACE spacecraft in a cleanroom.
Members of NASA’s PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) team are photographed with the spacecraft on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024, during a NASA-hosted media day inside a cleanroom at the Astrotech Space Operations Facility near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

Members of the media viewed NASA’s PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud ocean Ecosystem) spacecraft on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024, at the Astrotech Space Operations facility near the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

Subject matter experts from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA Headquarters in Washington, and the agency’s Launch Services Program based at Kennedy provided an overview of the Earth observing science mission and answered questions about PACE. Data from the mission will help NASA understand how the ocean and atmosphere exchange carbon dioxide, measure key atmospheric variables associated with air quality and Earth’s climate, and monitor ocean health through the study of phytoplankton. 

The opportunity provided media with a final look at the spacecraft before encapsulation in preparation for launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Liftoff is targeted for Tuesday, Feb 6, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. 

Setting the Stage for PACE at AGU

After years of planning, building, and testing, 2024 is the PACE mission’s time to shine: Launch is slated for February and the team is eagerly awaiting a wealth of ocean- and atmosphere-related data to dig into soon after.

Several PACE scientists closed out 2023 by sharing this enthusiasm for the mission at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting December 11-15 in San Francisco, which drew more than 24,000 Earth and space scientists.

“This is such a profound quantum leap forward in terms of our ability to monitor our home planet,” Jeremy Werdell, PACE project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, told a group gathered in front of NASA’s hyperwall screens.

A man wearing glasses, a dark polo shirt, khakis and a nametag on a lanyard stands in front of a large display made of nine screens combined into one. On the screen is a visual showing PACE study areas, labelled on a schematic of the ocean, atmosphere and terrestrial ecosystems.
PACE project scientist Jeremy Werdell outlines diverse areas of study that data from the mission could help answer questions for, at the NASA exhibit booth at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting in San Francisco, Dec. 12, 2023. Image credit: NASA/Kate Ramsayer

He showed a visualization highlighting Earth’s pulsing phytoplankton blooms, masses of aerosols drifting across oceans, ice sheets retreating, and more. It’s 20 years of our home planet breathing, Werdell said. Insights like these about Earth are one of NASA’s key accomplishments, he said, right up there with landing on the Moon.

In the conference’s poster hall, researchers presented their work to get ready for using the data. Amir Ibrahim, an ocean scientist with NASA Goddard, talked to colleagues about a tool he is using to simulate the data that the team will receive once PACE’s Ocean Color Instrument is up and running in orbit.

“We’re here to interact with the community who will use the data, and share with them the great capabilities OCI will offer across various disciplines,” Ibrahim said, standing in front of a poster filled with data visualizations and charts.

Data from PACE will touch on many aspects of the interconnected Earth system, including air quality and water quality, Natasha Sadoff, PACE applications deputy coordinator, told the audience at a presentation later that day. With aerosol products from the mission, people can help improve health advisories for wildfire smoke. Other data products will help notify resource managers of harmful algal blooms, wetland health indicators, or even oil spills and seeps.

A woman in a light-colored blazer stands behind a podium on a dais, giving a presentation. On the right side of the image, a screen shows a colorful visualization of Earth, with concentrations of different types of phytoplankton in the oceans represented with different colors. In the foreground of the image are the backs of attendees’ heads.
Natasha Sadoff, PACE applications deputy coordinator, speaks before a crowd of Earth and space scientists at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting in San Francisco, on Dec. 11, 2023. Image credit: NASA/Kate Ramsayer

She showed a global map of the locations of mission Early Adopters, people who are working with the mission ahead of launch to figure out how to use the satellite data to help address different questions across a wide range of disciplines. PACE will generate a new world of data, Sadoff said, and the mission welcomes others interested in exploring it.

“We’re always looking for new community members,” she said.

Header image caption: At a December 2023 conference, scientists presented findings about what the PACE mission and its instruments could accomplish after launch, scheduled for Feb. 6, 2023. Image credit: NASA/Kate Ramsayer

By Kate Ramsayer, Strategic Communications Lead for Earth Science Missions at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

People of PACE: Otto Hasekamp Helps Scientists See Light in a New Light

Otto Hasekamp is a senior scientist at the Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON) and is the science lead for the SPEXOne polarimeter that will be on PACE.

What is your favorite atmospheric or oceanic related book or movie?

It’s not a book, but my favorite bit of writing about the atmosphere is actually a review article from 1974 – the year I was born! – on light scattering by atmospheric particles. It’s something that I’ve come back to through my whole career. It was written by Jim Hansen and Larry Travis from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, and is sort of the cornerstone for polarimetry.

What are you most looking forward to during launch?

I’m really excited to see the satellite go up and then get the notification that everything has gone right with the satellite. It will really be a relief, and I’m looking forward to that green light.

What are you most looking forward to post-launch?

The commissioning phase where we check all the measurements and the instrument will be an exciting and intense period. I’m really looking forward to the first measurements of SPEXOne. On the somewhat longer term I look forward for our team to first real science results, that improve our understanding of aerosols and clouds.

What is your favorite color and why?

My favorite color is blue. Why? Well, of course when the sky is really clear it shows up very blue and I think that’s a great thing to look at.

A man stands centered in the image and can be seen from the waist up. He is wearing a black winter coat. Behind him, also centered in the image, is a large wooden pole. There are wires coming off of the pole. In the background of the image, the sky is bright blue, but is covered by some white fluffy clouds. Near the bottom of the image in the background, a mountainous green landscape can be seen far below where the man is standing.
Otto Hasekamp at the Berger Kogel, Austria, September 2023. Courtesy of Otto Hasekamp

Do you have a favorite type of cloud or atmospheric phenomenon?

The very, very thick clouds when there’s a thunderstorm coming that are sort of scary to see. It gives a special atmosphere.

What’s a fun fact about yourself, something that people might not know about you?

I like hiking in the mountains. Every year, for 25 years, I go hiking in the mountains with friends of mine and we hope to continue to do that for a long time. I’ve also crossed the Arctic Circle.

What advice would you give to aspiring scientists who are looking to get to where you are today?

Persist. Accept that things go slowly but persist and you will get where you want to be. I think that is maybe the most important one. Keep in mind the impacts of what you do, that’s another important one.

What is one catch-all statement describing the importance of SPEXOne?

It will help the understanding of the cooling effect that fine particulate matter has on the climate.

Header image caption: Otto Hasekamp presenting SPEXone at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) conference, Washington, D.C., October 2019. Courtesy of Otto Hasekamp

By Erica McNamee, Science Writer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center