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Planetary Geodynamics Laboratory

Planetary Geodynamics Laboratory

Two Columns

Space Geodesy

       The Space Geodesy Group within the Planetary Geodynamics Laboratory , located at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), conducts broad scientific research in global solid Earth dynamics, in fields that are related to space geodesy or rely on space geodesy for source observations. The group carries a time-honored heritage in generating the state-of-the-art gravity fields for the Earth, which is continuing into the new era of the International Decade of Geopotential Research. The same is true with respect to gravity fields of terrestrial planets and satellites in our Solar System. These efforts are based on the ever-improving precision in tracking of satellites and spacecraft, and in the capability of modeling and computation for precise orbit determination (POD) using the workhorse software GEODYN. The latter effort is also an integral part of current and future space missions that rely on POD, including ocean radar altimetry, land/ice laser altimetry and lidars, and new time-variable gravity measurement missions.

       New research in time-variable gravity and geocenter motion, joining the continuing studies of Earth rotation and crustal loading and deformation, constitute the "global geophysical fluids" research efforts whose main goal is to understand the Earth's atmosphere-hydrosphere-solid Earth-core system, and the dynamic interactions thereof. These efforts are based on space geodetic observations, a major component of which is Very-Long-Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). The Laboratory is responsible for NASA's VLBI observations and analysis, as well as the coordination of the worldwide VLBI network.

       The group also conducts frontier research in: Study of tides, leading in particular to oceanic tide models essential to all geodetic applications; and study of Earth's core dynamics, in developing the powerful numerical model MoSST as a tool in understanding the geodynamo processes that generate the geomagnetic field, and interactions of core with geodetic and mantle dynamics observables.

       The space geodesy group consists of nine civil-servant scientists, about 20 on-site and a number of off-site contractors, and several University/Joint Center faculties, grantees, and visitors. We maintain and welcome collaborative work with researchers from other NASA laboratories and other agencies, as well as domestic and international Earth Sciences institutions.

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