Hampton University
Hampton University Professor to be Inducted into the Langley Research Center NACA and NASA Hall of Honor
05/31/2017 - #213

HAMPTON, Va. — Hampton University professor and Co-director of the Center for Atmospheric Sciences Dr. M. Patrick McCormick will be inducted into the Langley Research Center (LaRC) NACA and NASA Hall of Honor’s class of 2017, June 1, at NASA’s Langley Research Center.

“I was totally surprised and humbled to be selected to receive such a great honor from NASA’s Langley Research Center, where I spent 30 wonderful years as a research scientist before going to Hampton University in 1996," said McCormick.

The Hall of Honor was initiated by the Langley Research Center Alumni Association to recognize the exemplary careers of selected Langley employees who have made outstanding and significant contributions to either or both NACA and NASA. The Hall of Honor serves to inspire the next generation.

Throughout Dr. McCormick’s 51-year professional career, 30 years at NASA LaRC and subsequently 21 years at Hampton University, he has been a pioneer in the development of remote sensing techniques for the measurement of atmospheric species and processes.

As a graduate student in physics at William and Mary, he began researching the use of lasers to measure the atmosphere, and soon became one of the pioneers in this area of research. The technique is called lidar, which Dr. McCormick has continued to develop throughout his career. In addition to ground-based lidars, he placed lidars on aircraft for regional measurements and on satellites for global measurements. He led the Lidar In-space Technology Experiment (LITE) which was the prime payload for the Shuttle flight on Discovery in 1994, and was the first lidar ever flown in space. At HU, Professor McCormick and his students have continued developing lidars for making atmospheric aerosol, cloud, temperature and gaseous measurements.

In parallel to lidar research, Dr. McCormick has played an integral part in developing satellite instruments using the technique of solar occultation. Instead of lasers, this technique uses mainly the sun as a source of radiation to make its global measurements. The instrument during satellite sunrises and sunsets locks onto the sun, and measures the attenuation caused by atmospheric constituents in the Earth’s limb. In 1975, the Stratospheric Aerosol Monitor (SAM) flew aboard Apollo during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, making the first such measurements from space. This proof-of-principal experiment was followed by a long list of very successful satellite instruments that Dr. McCormick has led as their Principal Investigator: SAM II, SAGE I, SAGE II, SAGE III on the Russian Spacecraft Meteor 3M, and most recently, SAGE III launched February 19, 2017, and now flying aboard the International Space Station.

Some of the major science contributions from these satellite measurements include the naming and characterization of Polar Stratospheric Clouds (PSCs), a necessary ingredient in the creation of the ozone hole, and the impact of volcanic eruptions on the atmosphere and temperatures on Earth. Because of the longevity and stability of these sensors in space, which were all built by Ball Aerospace and Technologies under the direction of LaRC engineers and scientists, they have been able to produce data sets useful for the study of long-term trends like that needed for understanding the effects of chlorofluorocarbons on global ozone depletion.

Dr. McCormick has published over 430 papers, NASA publications and book chapters, including 280 refereed journal publications.

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