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

A woman stands slightly to the left of center in the image, seen from the waist up. She is wearing a white clean room suit that covers her torso, arms, and over the top of her head and forehead. She also wears a white mask that covers her nose and mouth and blue latex gloves. She is holding her arms out and above her head in a celebratory stance. Behind her and slightly to the right is the PACE observatory, which is large, silver colored, and is covered in wires and other metallic pieces of instrumentation and materials.

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