Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Philip W Dabney


Philip W Dabney's Contact Card & Information.
Phone: 301.614.5858
Org Code: 618
Mail Code 618
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Brief Bio

Philip W. Dabney received the Master of Science in Electro-Physics from the Department of Electrical Engineering (EE) at the University of Maryland, College Park and also holds Bachelor’s degrees in EE and Physics. He has over 27 years of experience in the conceptualization, development, applications, calibration, and operations of active and passive airborne prototype and spaceborne sensors.

He is currently serving as the Instrument Scientist for: the Landsat-8, Landsat-9, and Sustainable Land Imaging (SLI) Missions; the Swath Imaging Multi-polarization Photon-counting Lidar (SIMPL); and several NASA R&D and Internal R&D (IRAD) projects.


Previously, he served as: the Icesat-2/ATLAS Instrument Pre-launch Calibration and Validation Scientist; Principle Investigator for development of a Prototype Inter-planetary Asynchronous Laser Transponder; the Instrument Systems Engineer for the Shuttle Laser Altimeter-03, the photon-counting Multikilohertz Microlaser Altimeter (MMLA); Advanced Solid-state Array Spectroradiometer (ASAS); and Airborne Laser Polarization Sensor (ALPS).

Additionally, he frequently provides Instrument Science support to mission and instrument concept studies involving lidar, thermal radiative, and multi/hyper-spectral reflected light imaging systems.

Research Interests

Remote Sensing Systems

Earth Science: Remote Sensing

Remote Sensing Instrumentation for Applied Science, Remote Sensing Applications, Requirements Development, Instrument Concept & Development, Hyperspectral and Multispectral Remote Sensing, Laser & Passive Radiometry, Design of Electro-optical Imaging Systems, Instrument Systems Modeling & Optimization, Calibration and Characterization of Active and Passive Remote Sensing Systems, Precision Laser Ranging Applications, Data Analysis and Interpretation, Precision Epoch Time Recovery, Airborne Proof-of-concept Instruments and Field Operations, Radiative & Photon Counting Detectors, Laser Systems, High-performance Airborne Data-systems.


Instrument Scientist

NASA-GSFC - Greenbelt, MD

January 2003 - Present

AST, Electrical Engineer

NASA-GSFC - Greenbelt, MD

May 1988 - January 2003

Co-op Student Engineer

NASA/GSFC - Greenbelt, MD

October 1987 - May 1988

Physics & Electronics Lab Instructor/Teaching Assistant

Columbia Union College - Takoma Park, Maryland

August 1985 - October 1987

Teaching Experience

University Physics & Electronics Lab Instructor/Teaching Assistant 1985-1987


1995 - M.S. Electro-Physics,
University of Maryland
1988 - B.S. Electrical Engineering,
University of Maryland
1988 - B.A. Physics,
Columbia Union College

Professional Societies

American Geophysical Union (AGU) Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) International society of Electrical and Society of Electronic Engineers (IEEE)

1988 - Present


May 2013                Robert H. Goddard Award Exceptional Individual Achievement in Engineering

May 2013      Robert H. Goddard Award Exceptional Team Achievement in Science

September 2008 Center Director’s Team Recognition Award

July 2008     Performance Award

August 2007   Performance Award

July 2006     Time off Award

May 2005      Performance Award

August 2004   Performance Award

July 2004     Time off Award

May 2003      Group Achievement Award

April 2003    Career Promotion

September 2002 Quality Increase

May 2002      Performance Award

July 2001     Quality Increase

July 2000     Performance Award

December 1999 Quality Increase

June 1999     Performance Award

December 1997 Performance Award

September 1997 Quality Increase

December 1996 Quality Increase

December 1995 Performance Award

September 1994 Career Promotion

May 1994      Group Achievement Award

April 1994    Quality Increase

April 1993    Certificate of Recognition

August 1992   Special Act or Service Award

January 1992  Career Promotion

July 1991     Special Act Award

May 1991      Certificate of Recognition

April 1991    Special Act or Service Award

August 1990   Special Act or Service Award

October 1990  Certificate of Outstanding Performance

Certificate of Recognition



2017. "Surface-Height Determination of Crevassed Glaciers—Mathematical Principles of an Autoadaptive Density-Dimension Algorithm and Validation Using ICESat-2 Simulator (SIMPL) Data." IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 55 (4): 1874-1896 [10.1109/tgrs.2016.2617323] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Landsat 9: status and plans." Earth Observing Systems XXI [10.1117/12.2238658] [Proceedings]

2007. "Laser Ranging for Gravitational, Lunar and Planetary Science." International Journal of Modern Physics D 16 2151 [Full Text] [10.1142/S0218271807011565] [Journal Article/Letter]

2004. "Reconfigurable computing as an enabling technology for single-photon-counting laser altimetry." 2004 IEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings (IEEE Cat. No.04TH8720) [10.1109/aero.2004.1368027] [Proceedings]

1997. "Bidirectional reflectance of selected BOREAS sites from multiangle airborne data." J. Geophys. Res. 102 (D24): 29505-29516 [10.1029/96JD03880] [Journal Article/Letter]

1993. "Airborne bidirectional radiances of snow-covered surfaces in Montana, USA." Annals of Glaciology 17 (1): 35-40 [10.3198/1993AoG17-1-35-40] [Journal Article/Letter]


2016. "Laser transmitter design and performance for the slope imaging multi-polarization photon-counting lidar (SIMPL) instrument." Solid State Lasers XXV: Technology and Devices, Proceedings of SPIE 9726 [10.1117/12.2213005] [Proceedings]

2011. "Airborne Polarimetric, Two-Color Laser Altimeter Measurements of Lake Ice Cover: A Pathfinder for NASA’s ICESat-2 Spaceflight Mission." 2011 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS) 3598-3601 [Full Text] [10.1109/IGARSS.2011.6050002] [Proceedings]

2011. "Landsat Data Continuity Mission Operational Land Imager Thermal In-frared Sensor performance." Proceedings of SPIE 8153 81530D-81530D-7 [10.1117/12.895542] [Proceedings]

2011. "Polarimetric, two-color, photon-counting laser altimeter measurements of forest canopy structure." International Symposium on Lidar and Radar Mapping 2011: Technologies and Applications, Proceedings of SPIE 8286 10 [10.1117/12.913960] [Proceedings]

2010. "The Slope Imaging Multi-polarization Photon-counting Lidar: Development and performance results." Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS), 2010 IEEE International 653-656 [10.1109/IGARSS.2010.5650862] [Proceedings]

2008. "Direct-detection free-space laser transceiver test-bed." Proceedings of the Free-Space Laser Communication Technologies XX SPIE.6877 687703 [10.1117/12.758654] [Proceedings]

2007. "Pushbroom Laser Altimetry using Fiber Lasers and Photon Counting Detectors ." 2007 Conference on Lasers & Electro-Optics/Quantum Electronics and Laser Science Conference (CLEO/QELS 1-5 1467-1468 [Full Text] [Proceedings]

2002. "Design and Performance of an Airborne Multikilohertz Photon-Counting Microlaser Altimeter." International Archives of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Volume XXXIV-3/W4, Annapolis, Maryland, 22-24 Oct. 2001 9-16 [Full Text] [Proceedings]

2001. "Design and performance of a 3-D imaging, photon-counting, microlaser altimeter operating from aircraft cruise altitudes under day or night conditions." PROCEEDINGS OF THE SOCIETY OF PHOTO-OPTICAL INSTRUMENTATION ENGINEERS (SPIE) 4546 1-10 [10.1117/12.453978] [Proceedings]