NASA Goddard Space Flight Center yesterday chose a University of Maryland, Baltimore County-led team of universities and private sector companies to develop a joint center for Earth sciences research.
NASA Goddard, based in Greenbelt, awarded a $70 million, five-year cooperative agreement to the consortium to develop the Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology Center.
The agreement represents the largest research contract ever for UMBC, which is leading a team including Howard University in Washington, Hampton University in Hampton, Va., Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Linthicum-based division, Electronic Sensors and Systems Sector, and Caelum Research Corp. of Rockville. "It's a new working relationship between academia, government and industry in performing Earth science research at the world-class level," said Robert Curran, director of the new center, which is to be launched next month.
The center, which will be housed at Goddard, is expected to draw notable visiting scientists and professors and graduate students and serve as the site of international workshops, seminars and classes.
Researchers affiliated with the center will collaborate with Goddard scientists who have recently launched a number of satellites used to study the Earth's surface, atmosphere and oceans and to understand the human effect on the climate, Curran said.
"This cooperative agreement comes at a good time in terms of providing the minds of the investigators to augment the people performing research under other Goddard" programs, Curran said.
"We're at the starting gate for a large-scale study of planet Earth," he added.
UMBC has a similar cooperative agreement with Goddard -- the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, which was formed in 1995.
"We are proud to help link universities and companies in Virginia and Maryland while giving scientists and schools around the world access to crucial data about the future of our planet," said Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president of UMBC.