Joint SIO/History Faculty Candidate Seminar - Erik Conway

04/21/2017 - 10:00am
Hubbs Hall 4500
Event Description: 
Potential joint hire with SIO and History as part of the Environmental Justice search, Practical Ethics Initiative.


DATE:          April 21st, Friday, 10am  

            (additionally - he will present "Politics on the Martian Frontier: The Conservative Space Revolution and post-Cold War NASA” on 4/20 at 3:30pm in Galbraith conference room 4025)

LOCATION:     Hubbs Hall 4500
SPEAKER:      Erik Conway, Ph.D.
            Jet Propulsion Laboratory
TITLE:          On Oceans of Data: Promoting NASA Technology to Oceanographers in the Cold War

In the late 20th century, space-based remote sensing technology offered a means of resolving one of the core challenges of oceanography: poor spatial sampling. Most oceanographic data came from ships, either during research cruises or from merchant shipping plying a small number of common routes. Neither approach enabled understanding of the dynamism of the world ocean.


During NASA’s first 20 years, the agency did not have an Earth science program. Instead, it had what was known as the NASA Applications Program, built around the premise that NASA was to develop technology for use by others—mostly, by other federal agencies. In the early 1970s, it began to promote radar altimetry of the ocean surface as a means of solving this undersampling problem. In this talk, I’ll outline NASA’s efforts to “sell” the traditional oceanographic community on its new technique, its early failure, and the subsequent evolution of the now very successful ocean remote sensing program. 


Faculty Host:  John Hildebrand (
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