NASA, NMU Collaboration Begins

June 12, 2018

Marquette, MI – NASA contractors are scheduled to visit Granite Island late this week to set up an offshore solar radiation-monitoring site for NASA’s Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) experiment. NMU trustee and alumnus Scott Holman agreed to host the NASA instruments on the island, which he owns, provided NMU faculty and students have opportunities to be involved in the research. Two representatives of the contractor, Science Systems and Applications Inc. of Hampton, Va., will visit the island Thursday or Friday, weather permitting. Media interested in doing a story can contact John Lenters, NMU research associate and owner of Lentic Environmental Services, at 517-294-5257.

Lenters said NASA CERES has been measuring Earth’s radiation via satellite for more than 30 years. In an effort to validate that data through ground measures—ideally over water far from land contamination—NASA looked to a Lake Superior location after a previous East Coast site had to be decommissioned because of safety issues. Granite Island was selected based on its available infrastructure, power and internet. The potential added benefit of weather monitoring equipment that had been installed at the island previously as part of the Great Lakes Evaporation Network also appealed to NASA, Lenters said.

Lentic Environmental Services launched a Granite Island Living Laboratory program in cooperation with Superior Watershed Partnership to enrich large-lake research, along with education and training opportunities for NMU and external collaborators throughout the Great Lakes region and beyond. Lenters accompanied NASA representatives to Granite Island with Holman last summer and spent the past few months finalizing access agreements. He said NASA is looking for a reliable, long-term CERES and Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN) site. If Granite Island proves effective, it could be an extended collaboration between NASA and NMU.

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