UAF, NASA renews $48 million contract to continue Satellite Facility research

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - NASA and the University of Alaska Fairbanks have extended their contract to continue research through Alaska's Satellite Facility. The University of Alaska Fairbanks has been awarded $48.6 million, renewing their contract with NASA at UAF's Geophysical institute.

Nettie La Belle-Hamer, director with UAF's Alaska Satellite Facility, also referred to as ASF, spoke about the relationship between NASA and the university.

"The last couple of years, ASF engineers have demonstrated to NASA their strength and prowess in the advance programming for advance based technologies and we are part of the leading edge of NASA going into these more advanced technologies," she said.

The data provided by Satellite Aperture Radar, or SAR, imagery has been used to further research in various ways, such as predicting weather patterns. SAR can assess the status of infrastructures after an earthquake and can aid research vessels in ice packed locations by sending images of the ice to the vessel's computer.

"A camera is a passive sensor and it records what sees with a normal light. With radar, it's an active signal, a chirp is what we call it. A chirp comes out from the satellite and it records not only what chirp it sent, but it also records what came back and the relationship between those two waves," she said.

The facility operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and currently has 55 employees, many of which are students at UAF. La Belle-Hamer says this contract speaks volumes with how NASA trusts UAF to handle these new, exciting and very challenging missions.

Among the 12 NASA sponsored DAAC's, Alaska Satellite Facility is the only one that specializes in Synthetic aperture radar data.