Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Visiting JPL

I'm at JPL today and tomorrow, visiting a colleague (and hopefully collaborator) at NASA, and attending the first day of the AIRS Science Meeting.

AIRS stands for the Atmospheric Infrared Sensor, an instrument that sits aboard NASA's Aqua satellite. Along with other sensors onboard Aqua, AIRS provides for detailed atmospheric sensing, especially of greenhouse gases that account for climate change.

In fact, the AIRS science meeting is ground central for some of the climate change work that we mostly hear about through a political lens. It's fascinating to sit in the JPL cafeteria and listen to atmosphere scientists talk about some of the fundamental problems in climate science (clouds are apparently a BIG mystery in terms of how they influence global temperature).

So what's a computer scientist doing in this super-charged atmosphere ? The instrument produces gargantuan amounts of data, and there are all kinds of interesting data analysis questions that need to be addressed at scale. What makes these questions interesting is that unlike in much of mining, there is a physical ground truth that we can use to validate any interesting patterns that a mining process might uncover.

1 comment:

  1. "So what's a computer scientist doing in this super-charged atmosphere ?"

    I do hope you will write more about this.


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