This view of Earth comes from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer aboard the Terra satellite. Image credit: NASA

Spacecraft instruments monitor our planet, but ground-based legwork to verify the measurements is an essential part of studying Earth from space, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory field researcher Mark Helmlinger will share his experiences in southern Africa doing just that in public lectures to be held at JPL on Thursday, Jan. 25, and at Pasadena City College on Friday, Jan. 26.

Both lectures, called "Adventures in Africa: Earth Science Fieldwork for JPL," begin promptly at 7 p.m. Parking is free and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Throughout Namibia, Botswana and South Africa, Helmlinger and his team made so-called "ground truth" measurements for NASA's Terra spacecraft. His digital movies and images from the experience highlight the places, people and unusual situations he encountered along the way.

Raised in Southern California, Helmlinger was born near Morristown, New Jersey, in 1960. After working many part-time technical jobs and consulting for JPL and the State of California, he received his bachelor's degree in physics from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, in 1991. Over the past decade, JPL has sent Helmlinger to every corner of the continental United States, South Africa and the wilds of Canada to conduct ground truth experiments under high-flying aircraft and satellites.

At JPL, the lecture will be held in the von Karman Auditorium, 4800 Oak Grove Dr., Pasadena. At Pasadena City College, the lecture will take place in the Voslow Forum, 1570 Colorado Blvd. More information on the von Karman lecture series can be obtained at or by calling (818) 354-0112.

For the first time since the inception of the von Karman lecture series in 1997, an audio-visual recording of the "Adventures in Africa" lecture will be available on the Internet starting Saturday, Jan. 27.

NASA's Terra spacecraft was launched into orbit around the Earth in December 1999. It carries the Multi-angle Imaging Spectro-Radiometer (MISR) instrument, built by JPL, which collects global images of the sunlit Earth from nine different angles. This data provides scientists with important information about Earth's climate, and the regional and global impact of different types of atmospheric particles and clouds on the climate. JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

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