UAF Alaska Satellite Facility Selects New Director

Feb 7, 2023 | Education, Right Moves, Science

Wade Albright has been named Director of the Alaska Satellite Facility (ASF) at the UAF Geophysical Institute. Albright has been with ASF since 1996, just five years after it became operational. He had been serving as interim director since late January 2022, when then-Director Nettie La Belle-Hamer left to become UAF vice chancellor for research. 

“I’m proud to be associated with ASF because we’ve done such phenomenal things,” Albright says. “We’ve been so successful. And that’s because of the amazing staff at ASF.”

As director, Albright oversees a team of almost 100 people, a number that has almost doubled in the last five years due to additional contracts with NASA, other federal agencies, and commercial entities. That number may increase as the scope of ASF’s work grows with the launch of a satellite by NASA and the Indian Space Research Organisation.

“NASA has given us a lot of work, so we’ve had to add people, many of them software developers, to be able to keep up,” Albright said. “We’ve had tremendous growth.”

The Alaska Satellite Facility operates six satellite dish antennas, four of them for NASA, that downlink Earth-observing remote sensing data from polar-orbiting government and commercial satellites. ASF also processes and archives downlinked synthetic aperture radar data and makes it available to scientific users around the world.

ASF is the top-rated Distributed Active Archive Center among twelve such centers in NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System. Albright credits ASF’s top rank to its staff and their efforts to make synthetic aperture radar data easier to use and access for crop classification, detection of surface water flooding, or studying the deformation of Earth’s surface.

“The ASF staff have written some amazing tools for using that data,” Albright says. “That’s been our mission for the past several years: to make SAR data easier to use.”

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