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2017 CEOS Chair Team Led by USGS EROS Given Unit Award for Excellence of Service

EROS team earns top honor from Department of Interior for work with international body.

USGS EROS has received the Department of the Interior’s Unit Award for Excellence of Service for its leadership as the 2017 Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) Chair Team.

The citation recognizes the team of Jenn Lacey, Steve Labahn, Eric Wood, Gene Fosnight, Tom Cecere, Karen Reiser, and Center Director Dr. Frank Kelly as having distinguished itself by providing what it called exemplary leadership for 60 international space agencies operating over 150 satellites in 2017.

Committee on Earth Observation Satellites logo
The logo for the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS). Staff at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center served as the chair team for CEOS in 2017(Public domain.)

Deputy USGS Director William Werkheiser noted in the citation that the team organized and led a dozen international meetings, culminating in the annual CEOS Plenary in Rapid City, where its unified approach ensured “the maximum opportunity … for decision and debate regarding high priority topics related to future satellite data architectures and the interoperability of satellite data.”

Kelly insisted the incredible success of that Rapid City plenary in October 2017 would not have happened without significant support from TSSC staffers Todd Taylor, Howard Hedger, Jerad Shaw, and Laura Nemec at EROS.

Kelly called the award recognition particularly noteworthy because the USGS is not a space agency, and because it had only a minimal amount of staffing at its disposal for the Chair Team. He added that he took great pride in his team’s accomplishments during the year, including pushing through ideas it had on data architectures and on satellite interoperability.

“When I look at other organizations that have taken on CEOS, they bring different levels of capability to it,” Kelly said. “USGS did it with a minimal amount of really good people. Great staff. Great people on the government side. Great people on the contractor side. As usual, they worked really well together for a tremendous accomplishment. So yes, (the award) was a big deal.”

Kelly said he had heard comments beforehand questioning why USGS would hold the CEOS Plenary in Rapid City. “But I would say for the majority of people before they left, it was, ‘Boy, why not Rapid City?’ he said. “Really, it’s a great place, and the folks did a really superb job.”

In the citation, Werkheiser noted that by engaging the international satellite information community, the CEOS Chair Team ensured that the USGS had a significant role on the global stage in conducting the systematic and scientific characterization of the Earth system.

“The outstanding quality of the work of the Team earned the respect of their colleagues, resulted in accolades from many international space agencies, and reflects their dedication to accomplishing the mission and objectives of the USGS and the Department of Interior,” the citation read.

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