Two news items in the Indian press cite the work of Paul Siqueira of our Electrical and Computer Engineering Department on a joint $600 million project between NASA and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Read article in Times of India; Read The Indian Express article.
Siqueira is one of 15 scientists selected by NASA to serve on the Science Definition Team for the NASA-ISRO mission. In a meeting in Toronto on September 30, 2014, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and K. Radhakrishnan, chairman of ISRO, signed two documents to launch a NASA-ISRO satellite mission to observe Earth and establish a pathway for future joint missions to explore Mars. The Science Definition Team is a group of 15 scientists nationwide who are considered experts in their field and who will help direct the formulation of the mission. Read NASA press release — Read related article from the BBC
As Siqueira explained in 2014, “My personal responsibility is one of 15 scientists competitively selected nationwide two years ago to work on the science applications for what was then a mission concept that did not have an international partner or requirements that would define the mission configuration. With the interaction of NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory staff scientists/engineers, the Science Definition Team works with the mission planners to determine a configuration and observing strategy to make best scientific use of the satellite resources (observing time, power consumption, data rate, etc.).”
As he mentioned above, in 2012 Siqueira was selected to serve on the Science Definition Team for a NASA space-borne radar mission meant to study “Earth Deformation, Ecosystem Science, and the Dynamics of Ice.” Now that project has evolved into the joint effort between NASA and ISRO.
Siqueira’s expertise falls into the Ecosystem Science category, which is related to carbon accounting, habitat identification, and monitoring of forest resources on Earth. In that context, Siqueira recently received a Harvard Bullard Fellowship to work at the Harvard Forest in Petersham, Massachusetts, in part to study the remote sensing of forest structure using airborne and satellite observations, such as NISAR will provide.
“The advantage to a space-borne mission is that such studies can be extended globally to make large-scale, high fidelity, measurements of the ecological environment,” observed Siqueira. “My background as an engineer and applications scientist is what have allowed me to effectively communicate (and understand) the tradeoffs involved in obtaining the needed science with the instrument that will ultimately be launched.”
Siqueira has a long history with NASA projects. Prior to his 2012 project, NASA’s Earth Science Technology Office had asked researchers at the UMass Amherst to participate in building a satellite-borne instrument that would allow scientists to forecast weather and climate changes with unprecedented accuracy. Siqueira was the principal investigator on that team, whose task was building an interferometric receiver to measure the “topography” and temperatures of Earth’s waters and give us unparalleled insights into the dynamics of our global climate.
Before coming to UMass in 2005, Siqueira was at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where he worked on the engineering of airborne and space-borne microwave remote sensing systems and their application to earth sciences. Among many important projects he worked on were NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Global 2 Rainforest Mapping Project.