ASTRA Researcher Wins Prestigious NASA Grant

Nationally competitive award fosters creative research and development of next-generation scientific leaders

March 10, 2021 9:25 AM EST

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LOUISVILLE, Colo., March 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Dr. Ryan McGranaghan, Principal Data Scientist at ASTRA, LLC is amongst the NASA's latest cohort of Early Career Investigator Program (ECIP) awardees. Amongst NASA's most competitive grants for early career scientists, ECIP supports outstanding scientific research and nurtures early-career scientists' professional development, encouraging innovative research initiatives while cultivating diverse leadership in the space sciences.

"One of 15 awardees in the nation, Ryan's proposed ECIP-funded research mark him and his fellow ECIP recipients as future scientific leaders who will drive the world toward new ways of imagining – and realizing – space exploration and study," says Chad Fish, ASTRA COO. 

McGranaghan's proposal identifies a limitation in how the research community studies the space environment, i.e., the region surrounding the Earth affected by the Sun's energy.

"The solar-terrestrial connection is extremely complex, requiring information from each interconnected part—the solar corona, interplanetary space, and Earth's atmosphere," McGranghan says of this representation. "Traditionally, we separate these components, studying them in isolation. While this has produced remarkable understanding, our field is now at a point where we need to integrate the pieces and study everything as a system."

McGranaghan proposes using cutting-edge methods from the burgeoning field of data science, including machine learning, to unify heterogeneous data to build scientific understanding only possible from a collective view. To achieve this, he will use the concept of a knowledge network to integrate data and make sense of this information. The concept, if not the term itself, is one familiar to everyone: anytime you type a question into Google, you are accessing the world's largest knowledge network.

"The key is a focus on the relationships between information, linking data, and allowing one to traverse those links to make new discoveries like one might look through their network of friends to find out who is connected to whom," McGranaghan says.

McGranaghan describes the approach as being similar to how linked data transformed the internet from a set of disparate resources into the discoverable thing we have today; we can transform the study of the space environment by linking data, in the form of satellite observations, across the system.

About ASTRA: Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates (ASTRA) was born out of the vision for applying fundamental space physics knowledge to real-world problems. Founded in 2005, ASTRA is a leader in the "New Space" small satellite industry. We leverage our scientific and engineering expertise to develop unique solutions to address complex space physics disciplines, instrumentation, modeling capabilities, and data analytics; ASTRA turns science into data, data into knowledge.

Contact: Bill AdamsPhone: 949-547-8554mail:


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SOURCE Atmosphere & Space Technology Research Associates, LLC. (ASTRA)

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