GMAO’s PESEP Visitor from India


GSFC folks posing with Dr. Nayak

Dr. Lesley Ott, Dr. Mark Clampin (Director of Sciences and Exploration), Dr. Rabindra Kumar Nayak, Mr. Christopher Scolese (Director of Goddard Space Flight Center), Dr. Jim Irons (Director of Earth Sciences), and Dr. Steven Pawson

GMAO is hosting a visitor from India, Dr. Rabindra Kumar Nayak. After spending a month in the GMAO, he will move to JPL for another month. His visit is sponsored by a collaborative exchange program set up between the US and India. The Professional Engineer and Scientist Exchange Program (PESEP) was initiated in 2010, signed by the Prime Minister of the Republic of India and the President of the United States of America, in order to expand cooperation in civil space activities. It includes several US agencies, including NASA, and ISRO, the Indian Space Research Organization. The foci of PESEP include numerous activities in engineering and science, with some emphasis on aspects of weather and climate. Joint India and US objectives include:

  • Defining global and regional integrated Earth science themes
  • Understanding Earth observation retrievals and algorithms
  • Conducting feasibility studies for Earth observation applications
  • Understanding calibration and validation methods for Earth observations from airborne, ground-based and satellite platforms
  • Evaluating societal benefits of Earth observations
  • Increasing quantity of joint India- and US-authored peer-reviewed publications

Dr. Nayak was selected as one of the Indian scientists to visit the USA. His main intent on this trip is to establish a scientific connection between GMAO, JPL and the National Remote Sensing Center. This collaboration will draw on established activities in the GMAO and other Earth Science labs at GSFC to study the terrestrial carbon cycle, with a particular focus on studying aspects of the regional carbon balance in and around India.

Dr. Nayak received a Master of Science in Physics from Utkal University in 1999 and a PhD in Physics from Goa University in 2006. He served as a scientist and faculty member of the Indian Institute for Remote Sensing (IIRS) in ISRO from 2005 to 2010. He is currently a scientist at the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC, Hyderabad) of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) working on the problem of regional carbon cycling over and surrounding India.

In India, Dr. Nayak leads a research group that is developing a regional carbon data assimilation system for India, which would provide estimates of land and ocean carbon flux using a combination of in situ and remote sensing data. The goal of his visit is to learn about the remote sensing data used in these models, including NDVI from AVHRR and MODIS, and ocean color data from SeaWIFS and MODIS. He is also meeting GSFC-based developers of terrestrial ecosystem and ocean biogeochemistry models to understand how these may be adapted to India, making better use of carbon monitoring datasets compiled by ISRO. Together with scientists at JPL, Dr. Nayak’s ISRO based team is working to evaluate their models with NASA’s OCO-2 data and to evaluate the potential for future satellite missions to increase coverage over India. It is expected that Dr. Nayak's understanding of carbon cycling in India and access to in situ observations will also be useful in understanding and improving performance of GMAO's GEOS modeling system in a region where few in situ observations are available to outside researchers.

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