Terra Project Scientist
Mail code 618
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771
Phone: (301) 614-6671
Kurt Thome serves as the Terra Project Scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, making sure that the data Terra collects is of the highest quality and that the information continues to support and build upon existing knowledge. “We still play a key role in understanding the earth’s atmosphere and surface,” he says.
Thome was always fascinated with science and the sky. As a third grader he wanted to be a weatherman. He liked looking at the sky and going to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. “There are two things that children who like looking at the sky want to become, astronomers or weathermen. If you’re parents don’t let you out after dark, you really only have one choice,” says Thome.
Thome earned his bachelor’s degree from Texas A and M University in meteorology and his masters and doctorate from the University of Arizona in atmospheric sciences. He continued to work at the University of Arizona in the College of Optical Sciences as a faculty member from 1991 – 2008. While working at the University of Arizona he served on the Landsat 7 science team as the Reflected Solar Calibration Expert until 2005. He also was part of the ASTER, MODIS, and EO-1 science teams, vicariously calibrating remotely sensed data. The current methods used in vicarious calibration are based on the methods he helped pioneer. Thome was involved with remote sensing for more than two decades, before becoming the Terra Project Scientist in 2012.
He joined Goddard Space Flight Center in 2008 as a research physical scientist where he continued to research calibration and validation of remote sensing instruments. His research helps bridge the gap between engineering and remote sensing applications. He went on to become the CLARREO Deputy Project Scientist and served as the calibration lead from 2009-2013 for the Thermal Infrared Sensor on what became Landsat 9. He is the VIIRS Instrument Scientist and Lead for the Independent Calibration Team for CLARREO Pathfinder.
Dr. Thome has received many awards and recognitions for his research and leadership in Earth system science, including becoming a Fellow of SPIE and earning NASA group achievement awards as part of the ASTER Science, CLARREO Mission Concept, Suomi NPP Mission Development, TIRS Instrument Development, JACIE, and Landsat Data Continuity Mission Teams. Thome has published over 90 peer-reviewed publications.