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The 2022 William T. Pecora Awards Honor Excellence in Earth Observations

This week, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recognized outstanding contributors to the field of Earth observation and remote sensing. On Wednesday, October 26, individuals and groups were recognized when the past three years of William T. Pecora Awards were conferred in a ceremony at the 22nd William T. Pecora Memorial Remote Sensing Symposium in Denver. The recipients include visionaries who designed long-lasting satellites, educated users on the scientific data available, and supported decision-makers who apply remote sensing technologies to real-world issues. Other innovators advanced the use of remote sensing in plant biodiversity and invasive species, helped track algae and red tide events in our oceans, and led the way to understanding global carbon cycles at the margins of continents.

Here's our homage to the Earth observation experts whose contributions make this blue-green planet an even better place to call home.

Susan Ustin smiles at the camera
Susan Ustin















2022 Individual Award:  Dr. Susan L. Ustin

Dr. Ustin was recognized for her remarkable contributions to ecology and environmental management through pioneering the development and application of imaging spectroscopy. Dr. Ustin is a true pioneer in advancing the application of remote sensing in understanding biodiversity, plant community characteristics, invasive species, and land use in the United States and beyond. She has served tirelessly on several NASA mission science teams and was an invaluable lead on both the 2007 and 2017 NASA Decadal Survey teams. She has trained a generation of leading scientists at distinguished institutions in the United States and around the world, helping to diversify the community using spectroscopy for ecological research and application. She is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union for her lifetime contributions and an Ecological Society of America Fellow. Her academic accomplishments include nearly 300 publications with more than 25,000 citations.


Text saying National Aeronautics and Space Administration and NASA logo, 2002-2022 AQUA, 20 Years of Continuing Earth Observations, over an image of a satellite over the earth in space
The Aqua Mission Team won the 2022 group award.





















2022 Group Award:  The Aqua Mission Team

The Aqua Mission Team was honored for its significant contributions to scientific studies of the Earth over two decades and related applications of the Aqua satellite observations . Since its launch more than two decades ago, the Aqua mission has delivered observations essential to improving our understanding of global dynamics and processes occurring on the land and cryosphere, the oceans, and the atmosphere. Furthermore, the Aqua mission has addressed topics of national priority such as weather forecasting, homeland security and defense, and natural resource management. The astonishing performance of the Aqua satellite is attributed to the well-designed and operated Aqua mission, and the collective efforts by the instrument and science teams. Aqua is one of the most highly successful Earth observing satellites ever to have orbited our planet. The mission's free and open data policy has enabled a variety of application areas that generate societal value and support decision-makers. Aqua Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data products have been integrated operationally by many agencies, groups, and the public to meet their specific needs, including for the tracking of Sargassum macroalgae, red tides, and water-quality events. Furthermore, the MODIS instrument onboard the Aqua satellite has enabled water-quality data services to citizens of more than 60 countries worldwide. As the Aqua satellite celebrates its 20th year in space, its contributions continue to advance our knowledge of Earth's systems for the benefit of humanity.