UMass Amherst Engineer Paul Siqueira Selected for NASA Team
May 16, 2012
|Contact:||Patrick J. Callahan|
AMHERST, Mass. - Paul Siqueira, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been selected to serve on the Science Definition Team for a NASA space-borne radar mission to study Earth Deformation, Ecosystem Science, and the Dynamics of Ice (DESDynI). The project is expected to be launched before the end of the decade.
The mission is designed to help determine the likelihood of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and landslides and to predict the response of ice sheets to climate change and their impact on the sea level. It will also be used to characterize the effects of changing climate and land use on species habitats and the amount of carbon contained in forests and other vegetation. The satellite images will also be used to monitor the migration of fluids associated with hydrocarbon production and groundwater resources, according to NASA.
The team Siqueira is joining is made up of 15 scientists who will help direct the formulation of the mission. They are drawn from the basic disciplines that study earthquakes, volcanoes, land subsidence, glacier movement and terrestrial ecology.
Siqueira is co-director of the Microwave Remote Sensing Laboratory (MIRSL) at UMass Amherst. MIRSL uses microwave and optical instrument development for geoscience applications. Siqueira studies terrestrial ecology through algorithm development and systems engineering for radars. His specialty is the design, development and use of remote sensing techniques for applications in terrestrial ecosystems.
"Being on the Science Definition Team at this early stage will leverage my meager voice towards the whole of the mission," says Siqueira. "More so, because even though there are 15 scientists on the team, I will likely be one of four, or at most five, who are directly related to the terrestrial ecology side of the DESDynI project."
The DESDynI project will realize more than two decades of effort by NASA to develop and launch a mission with the next generation of a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) system, a side-looking radar used for high-resolution, remote-sensing mapping of the ground from moving aircraft or spacecraft.
Siqueira says missions such as the DESDynI project cost on the order of $500 million and reflect a planned investment by NASA for continuing to develop this technology. While NASA has flown SARs on four space shuttle missions, DESDynI will be its first free-flying, space-borne use of such radars since SEASAT, which was launched in 1978 and was the first satellite designed for remote sensing of the Earth’s oceans with SAR.
Before coming to UMass in 2005, Siqueira was at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., where he worked on the engineering of airborne and space-borne microwave remote sensing systems and their application to earth sciences.
Siqueira recently received a $40,000 Charles Bullard Fellowship in Forest Research, from Harvard University to work on a probabilistic model of vegetation structure and biomass that would help to characterize forests on a global basis by creating a critical link between detailed ecological models and remote sensing data.