Science Topic with Dr. Brad Hegyi: Understanding Our Solar-powered Earth with NASA Data Provided by the POWER Project


a man looking forward with glasses, a mustache, and a beard, short brown hair, and wearing a gray shirt.Brad Hegyi is a research scientist for the NASA Prediction of Worldwide Energy Resources (POWER) project team at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, USA. Brad develops metrics and statistics for POWER from model estimates of future climate to help support planning for future energy use by heating and cooling systems in buildings. Brad also helps create interactive data products to better visualize changes occurring in the climate data.

The energy that comes from the Sun is the basic source of energy for everything on Earth. Solar energy drives Earth’s weather and climate and is greatly affected by the presence of clouds. It also provides the energy for plants that are a part of Earth’s biosphere and human agriculture. Understanding solar energy is also increasingly important when thinking about renewable energy. Since 2003, the NASA Prediction of World Energy Resources (POWER) project has helped bring NASA data to people that are thinking about solar energy and making informed decisions after analyzing the data.

POWER brings together high-quality data from different sources within NASA. Data comes from sources such as the Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) project, the Global Precipitation Measurement mission (GPM), and the Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications, Version 2 (MERRA2). Our website makes it easy to access the data from different data sources across NASA in one place. The data can easily become a part of your project through our data visualization toolgeospatial image services, an interface to directly bring NASA data into your code, and even through cloud computing (Amazon Web Services). All available data is provided in common and easy-to-use data formats. Tutorials are also available on the website to guide users.

display used by the POWER project that displays different datasets onto a global map that can be manipulated to look at data more closely.

The accessible NASA data provided by POWER has been used in many projects and applications. For example, POWER data was used by a company to determine the best times to deploy floating solar-powered drones in the ocean. Many different users have relied on data provided by POWER to make decisions about providing solar power for locations such as bus stops, agricultural land, and remote locations in Africa. For more details about the POWER project and how to get started using NASA data, check out our website and story map.

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