Michael Kenneth Barker

Michael Kenneth Barker

  • Research AST, Planetary Studies
  • 301.614.5881
  • NASA/GSFC
  • Mail Code: 698
  • Greenbelt , MD 20771
  • Employer: NASA
  • Current Projects

    LRO-LOLA

    • Developing new operation mode for LOLA to collect unique high-phase angle radiometry of the lunar surface.
    • Leading the calibration and analysis of LOLA 1064-nm passive radiometry.
    • Planning and analyzing observations made for the LOLA search for lunar horizon glow.

    Planetary Geodesy

    • Team member of Code 698 Planetary Geodesy ISFM (PI: E. Mazarico).

    OSIRIS-REx

    • Co-I on OSIRIS-REx participating scientist proposal, "OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter 1064-nm Reflectance Investigation of Asteroid Bennu." 17-ORPSP17-0012. PI: G. A. Neumann.

    Europa Lander Hazard Avoidance Lidar

    • Designing and implementing end-to-end simulations of Europa lander hazard avoidance lidar for Phase A study in collaboration with Code 500 & 61A personnel.

    Positions/Employment

    1/2018 - Present

    Research Space Scientist

    NASA/GSFC, NASA/GSFC
    • Conducting data processing, data calibration & data analysis, and developing data protocols for passive radiometry collected by LOLA over the last 4 years composed of ~1.5 billion data points. This dataset will be archived at the Planetary Data System, and will form a new scientific resource for lunar surface characterization.
    • Co-investigator on OSIRIS-REx participating scientist proposal, "OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter 1064-nm Reflectance Investigation of Asteroid Bennu." 17-ORPSP17-0012. Principal Investigator: G. A. Neumann
    • Team member on Code 698 Planetary Geodesy ISFM (Principal Investigator: E. Mazarico).
    7/2015 - 1/2018

    Senior Scientist

    Sigma Space Corporation, NASA/GSFC
    • Directed the development of a new operation mode for LOLA that allows it to collect high-phase angle radiometry of the lunar surface. Such high-phase observations are of interest because they can place new constraints on the regolith reflectance behavior, which depends on grain & surface properties.
    • Led development of another new instrument operation mode enabling LOLA to search for scattered sunlight from dust above the lunar surface (lunar horizon glow) with the goal of constraining dust transport processes on the surface of the Moon. Worked with LRO mission operations team to plan and execute spacecraft slews to make necessary measurements. Conducting data analysis and presenting status reports at scientific conferences and LRO project team meetings.
    • Contributed to the development of sophisticated illumination modeling algorithms, particularly in the areas of light scattering and photometric behavior of the lunar surface. Leveraging these modeling tools to study surface-scattering of sunlight in the context of the lunar horizon glow search, which requires understanding and estimating potential light sources that could contribute to the measured signal.
    • Derived corrections to the LOLA pointing model from analysis of nearly 1 million altimetric crossovers resulting in ~20% higher measurement accuracy of LOLA bounce point geolocation. Maximizing the scientific return of planetary laser altimeters like LOLA requires accurate knowledge of the instrument pointing because residual errors in the laser boresight model can increase geolocation errors.
    • Assessed the LOLA instrument performance and pointing accuracy by analyzing in-orbit two-way laser ranging data between LOLA and the Goddard Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory. Reconstructed the spatial energy distribution in the LOLA laser far-field pattern. By comparing results obtained shortly after LRO launched and nearly 8 years later, this work has directly measured changes in the laser characteristics useful for understanding the long- term behavior of orbiting planetary altimeters.
    • Performed data processing, data calibration, data analysis, and developing data protocols for passive radiometry collected by LOLA over the last 4 years composed of ~800 million data points. This dataset will be archived at the Planetary Data System, and will form a new scientific resource for lunar surface characterization.
    • Disseminated science results through presentations at scientific conferences, such as American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC), and team meetings (LRO Project Science Working Group, GRAIL/LOLA joint science team).
    • Applied state-of-the-art least squares fitting techniques to time-of-flight altimetric data collected by the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) aboard the MESSENGER spacecraft to estimate important geophysical planetary properties of the terrestrial planet, Mercury. These properties (spin rate, spin axis orientation, and libration) are sensitive to its interior structure and evolution. Developed software to generate geophysically realistic test data and solve for rotational parameters.
    • Co-supervised college-level summer intern on 1-month project to derive digital elevation models of Mercury using the Ames Stereo Pipeline and images acquired with the Mercury Dual Imaging System aboard MESSENGER. The student presented her work as a poster at AGU.
    7/2013 - 7/2015

    Support Scientist Associate

    Sigma Space Corporation, NASA/GSFC
    • Applied advanced optimization algorithms and least-squares fitting methods to ~1 million altimetric crossovers from LOLA to measure the lunar body tide for the first time ever from orbit, resulting in co-authored peer-reviewed professional paper in Geophysical Research Letters. This measurement provides an additional constraint on geophysical models of the lunar interior.
    • Developed and calibrated a new instrument operation mode in which LOLA acts as a precise 4-pixel radiometer, extending LRO’s capabilities for multi- wavelength surface characterization. Processed first year of passive radiometry (200 million data points) and examined the phase function's dependence on geologic parameters. Published the results in peer-reviewed 2016 Icarus LRO Special Issue.
    • Demonstrated a new mode of instrument operation in which LRO orbit predictions and the LOLA lunar topographic model can be used to increase LOLA’s maximum range by up to ~20%. This mode can be exploited in the future as the LOLA laser energy declines and the maximum range at which it can detect the return pulses decreases.
    • Developed novel techniques for combining stereo imaging data with laser altimetry data to take advantage of their complementary strengths and weaknesses. Co-registered 43,200 stereo-derived topography models from the Japanese SELENE Terrain Camera with 4.5 billion topographic heights from the LOLA dataset yielding an improved, publicly-available, lunar topography model, called SLDEM2015. Increased the number of vertical residuals less than 5 m from 50% before co-registration to 90% after co-registration. Published the results in 2016 Icarus LRO Special Issue.
    • The LOLA data processing pipeline occasionally misclassifies spurious noise returns as valid. Wrote a software program to automatically edit LOLA topographic profiles using the SLDEM2015 resulting in the recovery of ~7.5 million valid ground returns and the removal of ~75,000 invalid returns.
    4/2011 - 7/2013

    Data Analyst Associate

    Sigma Space Corporation, NASA/GSFC
    • Improved the scientific value of the LOLA dataset by scheduling daily LOLA slews to fill gaps in surface coverage resulting in a 60% decrease in the number of gaps over 3.5 kilometers wide. Filling gaps in surface coverage improves the co-registration of laser altimetry and stereo imagery.
    • Constructed topographic slope and roughness maps from LOLA altimetry, which were archived and distributed to the scientific community on the Planetary Data System Geosciences node website. These maps assist planetary researchers in geophysical studies of the lunar surface.
    • Derived an improved range bias correction for one-way laser ranging data that resulted in smaller residuals between the predicted and actual pulse receive times. This dataset allowed the laser ranging investigation of LRO/LOLA to demonstrate that one-way time-of-flight measurements of laser pulses from Earth-based ground stations to LRO can improve the accuracy of spacecraft orbit reconstruction.
    1/2008 - 12/2010

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow

    University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, U.K.
    • Conducted a wide-field survey of the galaxy NGC 2403 using images obtained with the Subaru telescope. Applied state-of-the-art point spread function fitting software to the images providing an extensive catalog of colors and brightnesses of stars in this galaxy. Compared the spatial distribution of stars with galactic structural models to prove the existence of a faint, extended structural component. Published a paper on this work in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
    • Exploited the unique capabilities of the Hubble Space Telescope Advanced Camera for Surveys to study the ages and chemical compositions of two fields in the far outer disk of spiral galaxy M33. Applied sophisticated statistical tests and optimization methods to the colors and brightnesses of individual stars to derive the star formation history. Reviewed and assimilated literature to aid in data analysis and interpretation of results, which offer one of the most detailed views of the peripheral regions of any disk galaxy. Published a paper on this work in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Gave an invited seminar at Liverpool John Moores University.
    • Conceived of project and directed college student during 8-week Senior Honors Thesis culminating in written report and poster presentation given by the student.

    Education

    • Ph.D. in Astronomy, 12/2007, Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL
    • Master's in Astronomy, 6/2003, Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL
    • B.S. in Astronomy & Physics, 6/2001, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD

    Professional Societies

    American Geophysical Union, 2012 - Present

    Awards

    • 2016 NASA/GSFC Solar System Exploration Division Peer Award for exceptional dedication and outstanding contributions to the Division and its members.
    • 2016 Sigma Space Corporation Certificate of Recognition for scientific contributions in support of Planetary Science and the Geodesy, Geodynamics and Space Geodesy goals.

    Other Professional Information

    Computer skills:

    MATLAB, Generic Mapping Tools (GMT), NAIF SPICE, Ames Stereo Pipeline, SLURM, MacOS X, Linux, BASH, Fortran, C++

    Publications

    Refereed

    Barker, M. K., X. Sun, D. Mao, et al. E. Mazarico, G. A. Neumann, M. T. Zuber, D. E. Smith, J. F. McGarry, and E. D. Hoffman. 2018. "In-flight characterization of the lunar orbiter laser altimeter instrument pointing and far-field pattern." Applied Optics, 57 (27): 7702 [10.1364/ao.57.007702]

    Mazarico, E., G. A. Neumann, M. K. Barker, et al. S. J. Goossens, D. E. Smith, and M. T. Zuber. 2018. "Orbit determination of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter: Status after Seven Years." Planetary and Space Science, 162: 2-19 [10.1016/j.pss.2017.10.004]

    Mazarico, E., M. K. Barker, and J. B. Nicholas. 2018. "Advanced Illumination Modeling for Data Analysis and Calibration. Application to the Moon." Advances in Space Research, 62 (11): 3214-3228 [10.1016/j.asr.2018.08.022]

    Mao, D., J. F. McGarry, E. Mazarico, et al. G. A. Neumann, X. Sun, M. H. Torrence, T. W. Zagwodzki, D. D. Rowlands, E. D. Hoffman, J. E. Horvath, J. E. Golder, M. K. Barker, D. E. Smith, and M. T. Zuber. 2017. "The Laser Ranging Experiment of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter: Five Years of Operations and Data Analysis." Icarus, 283: 55-69 [10.1016/j.icarus.2016.07.003]

    Smith, D. E., M. T. Zuber, G. A. Neumann, et al. E. Mazarico, F. G. Lemoine, J. W. Head, P. G. Lucey, O. Aharonson, M. S. Robinson, X. Sun, M. H. Torrence, M. K. Barker, J. Oberst, T. C. Duxbury, D. Mao, O. S. Barnouin, K. Jha, D. D. Rowlands, S. Goossens, D. M. Hollibaugh Baker, S. Bauer, P. Gläser, M. Lemelin, M. Rosenburg, M. M. Sori, J. Whitten, and T. Mcclanahan. 2017. "Summary of the Results from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter after Seven Years in Lunar Orbit." Icarus, 283: 70-91 [10.1016/j.icarus.2016.06.006]

    Lemelin, M., P. G. Lucey, G. A. Neumann, et al. E. Mazarico, M. K. Barker, A. Kakazu, D. Trang, D. E. Smith, and M. T. Zuber. 2016. "Improved calibration of reflectance data from the LRO Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) and implications for space weathering." Icarus, 273: 315-328 [10.1016/j.icarus.2016.02.006]

    Barker, M. K., X. Sun, E. Mazarico, et al. G. A. Neumann, M. T. Zuber, and D. E. Smith. 2016. "Lunar phase function at 1064 nm from Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter passive and active radiometry." Icarus, 273: 96–113 [10.1016/j.icarus.2016.02.008]

    Barker, M. K., E. Mazarico, G. A. Neumann, et al. M. T. Zuber, J. Haruyama, and D. E. Smith. 2016. "A New Lunar Digital Elevation Model From the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter and SELENE Terrain Camera." Icarus, 273: 346–355 [10.1016/j.icarus.2015.07.039]

    Mazarico, E., M. K. Barker, G. A. Neumann, M. T. Zuber, and D. E. Smith. 2014. "Detection of the lunar body tide by the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter." Geophysical Research Letters, 41 (7): 2282-2288 [10.1002/2013GL059085]

    Barker, M. K., A. M. Ferguson, M. J. Irwin, N. Arimoto, and P. Jablonka. 2011. "Quantifying the faint structure of galaxies: the late-type spiral NGC 2403." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 419 (2): 1489-1506 [10.1111/j.1365-2966.2011.19814.x]

    Barker, M. K., A. M. Ferguson, M. Irwin, N. Arimoto, and P. Jablonka. 2009. "RESOLVING THE STELLAR OUTSKIRTS OF M81: EVIDENCE FOR A FAINT, EXTENDED STRUCTURAL COMPONENT." The Astronomical Journal, 138 (5): 1469-1484 [10.1088/0004-6256/138/5/1469]

    Barker, M. K., and A. Sarajedini. 2008. "The stellar populations of M33's outer regions - IV. Inflow history and chemical evolution." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 390 (2): 863-880 [10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.13816.x]

    Barker, M. K., A. Sarajedini, D. Geisler, P. Harding, and R. Schommer. 2007. "The Stellar Populations in the Outer Regions of M33. II. Deep ACS Imaging." The Astronomical Journal, 133 (3): 1125-1137 [10.1086/511185]

    Barker, M. K., A. Sarajedini, D. Geisler, P. Harding, and R. Schommer. 2007. "The Stellar Populations in the Outer Regions of M33. III. Star Formation History." The Astronomical Journal, 133 (3): 1138-1160 [10.1086/511186]

    McGaugh, S. S., M. K. Barker, and W. J. de Blok. 2003. "A Limit on the Cosmological Mass Density and Power Spectrum from the Rotation Curves of Low Surface Brightness Galaxies." The Astrophysical Journal, 584 (2): 566-576 [10.1086/345806]

    Dwek, E., and M. K. Barker. 2002. "The Cosmic Radio and Infrared Backgrounds Connection." The Astrophysical Journal, 575: 7 [Full Text (Link)] [10.1086/341143]

    Non-Refereed

    Mcgarry, J. L., D. Mao, E. Mazarico, et al. G. A. Neumann, X. Sun, M. H. Torrence, M. K. Barker, E. D. Hoffman, J. E. Horvath, D. E. Smith, and M. T. Zuber. 2016. "The Contributions of ILRS Laser Ranging to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission." 20th International Workshop on Laser Ranging, Potsdam Germany, October 9-14, 2016 [Full Text (Link)]

    Talks, Presentations and Posters

    Searching for Lunar Horizon Glow with the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter

    1 / 11 / 2017

    Dust, Atmosphere and Plasma Environment of the Moon and Small Bodies 2017 (DAP-2017)

    Planetary Dynamics From Laser Altimetry: Spin and Tidal Deformation of the Moon and Mercury

    12 / 15 / 2016

    American Geophysical Union, Fall General Assembly 2016, abstract id. DI41A-2617

    Mapping the Lunar Phase Function in the Near-Infrared with the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter

    3 / 2016

    47th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, held March 21-25, 2016 at The Woodlands, Texas. LPI Contribution No. 1903, p.1999

    Merging Digital Elevation Models from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter and Kaguya Terrain Camera

    3 / 2014

    45th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, held 17-21 March, 2014 at The Woodlands, Texas. LPI Contribution No. 1777, p.1635

    Selected Public Outreach

    Educating the educators. 2013 - 2014

    Gave presentations on lunar science and LRO/LOLA to over 100 primary and secondary school teachers.

    Publications

    Refereed

    Barker, M. K., X. Sun, D. Mao, et al. E. Mazarico, G. A. Neumann, M. T. Zuber, D. E. Smith, J. F. McGarry, and E. D. Hoffman. 2018. "In-flight characterization of the lunar orbiter laser altimeter instrument pointing and far-field pattern." Applied Optics 57 (27): 7702 [10.1364/ao.57.007702]

    Mazarico, E., G. A. Neumann, M. K. Barker, et al. S. J. Goossens, D. E. Smith, and M. T. Zuber. 2018. "Orbit determination of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter: Status after Seven Years." Planetary and Space Science 162 2-19 [10.1016/j.pss.2017.10.004]

    Mazarico, E., M. K. Barker, and J. B. Nicholas. 2018. "Advanced Illumination Modeling for Data Analysis and Calibration. Application to the Moon." Advances in Space Research 62 (11): 3214-3228 [10.1016/j.asr.2018.08.022]

    Mao, D., J. F. McGarry, E. Mazarico, et al. G. A. Neumann, X. Sun, M. H. Torrence, T. W. Zagwodzki, D. D. Rowlands, E. D. Hoffman, J. E. Horvath, J. E. Golder, M. K. Barker, D. E. Smith, and M. T. Zuber. 2017. "The Laser Ranging Experiment of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter: Five Years of Operations and Data Analysis." Icarus 283 55-69 [10.1016/j.icarus.2016.07.003]

    Smith, D. E., M. T. Zuber, G. A. Neumann, et al. E. Mazarico, F. G. Lemoine, J. W. Head, P. G. Lucey, O. Aharonson, M. S. Robinson, X. Sun, M. H. Torrence, M. K. Barker, J. Oberst, T. C. Duxbury, D. Mao, O. S. Barnouin, K. Jha, D. D. Rowlands, S. Goossens, D. M. Hollibaugh Baker, S. Bauer, P. Gläser, M. Lemelin, M. Rosenburg, M. M. Sori, J. Whitten, and T. Mcclanahan. 2017. "Summary of the Results from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter after Seven Years in Lunar Orbit." Icarus 283 70-91 [10.1016/j.icarus.2016.06.006]

    Lemelin, M., P. G. Lucey, G. A. Neumann, et al. E. Mazarico, M. K. Barker, A. Kakazu, D. Trang, D. E. Smith, and M. T. Zuber. 2016. "Improved calibration of reflectance data from the LRO Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) and implications for space weathering." Icarus 273 315-328 [10.1016/j.icarus.2016.02.006]

    Barker, M. K., X. Sun, E. Mazarico, et al. G. A. Neumann, M. T. Zuber, and D. E. Smith. 2016. "Lunar phase function at 1064 nm from Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter passive and active radiometry." Icarus 273 96–113 [10.1016/j.icarus.2016.02.008]

    Barker, M. K., E. Mazarico, G. A. Neumann, et al. M. T. Zuber, J. Haruyama, and D. E. Smith. 2016. "A New Lunar Digital Elevation Model From the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter and SELENE Terrain Camera." Icarus 273 346–355 [10.1016/j.icarus.2015.07.039]

    Mazarico, E., M. K. Barker, G. A. Neumann, M. T. Zuber, and D. E. Smith. 2014. "Detection of the lunar body tide by the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter." Geophysical Research Letters 41 (7): 2282-2288 [10.1002/2013GL059085]

    Barker, M. K., A. M. Ferguson, M. J. Irwin, N. Arimoto, and P. Jablonka. 2011. "Quantifying the faint structure of galaxies: the late-type spiral NGC 2403." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 419 (2): 1489-1506 [10.1111/j.1365-2966.2011.19814.x]

    Barker, M. K., A. M. Ferguson, M. Irwin, N. Arimoto, and P. Jablonka. 2009. "RESOLVING THE STELLAR OUTSKIRTS OF M81: EVIDENCE FOR A FAINT, EXTENDED STRUCTURAL COMPONENT." The Astronomical Journal 138 (5): 1469-1484 [10.1088/0004-6256/138/5/1469]

    Barker, M. K., and A. Sarajedini. 2008. "The stellar populations of M33's outer regions - IV. Inflow history and chemical evolution." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 390 (2): 863-880 [10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.13816.x]

    Barker, M. K., A. Sarajedini, D. Geisler, P. Harding, and R. Schommer. 2007. "The Stellar Populations in the Outer Regions of M33. II. Deep ACS Imaging." The Astronomical Journal 133 (3): 1125-1137 [10.1086/511185]

    Barker, M. K., A. Sarajedini, D. Geisler, P. Harding, and R. Schommer. 2007. "The Stellar Populations in the Outer Regions of M33. III. Star Formation History." The Astronomical Journal 133 (3): 1138-1160 [10.1086/511186]

    McGaugh, S. S., M. K. Barker, and W. J. de Blok. 2003. "A Limit on the Cosmological Mass Density and Power Spectrum from the Rotation Curves of Low Surface Brightness Galaxies." The Astrophysical Journal 584 (2): 566-576 [10.1086/345806]

    Dwek, E., and M. K. Barker. 2002. "The Cosmic Radio and Infrared Backgrounds Connection." The Astrophysical Journal 575 7 [Full Text (Link)] [10.1086/341143]

    Non-Refereed

    Mcgarry, J. L., D. Mao, E. Mazarico, et al. G. A. Neumann, X. Sun, M. H. Torrence, M. K. Barker, E. D. Hoffman, J. E. Horvath, D. E. Smith, and M. T. Zuber. 2016. "The Contributions of ILRS Laser Ranging to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission." 20th International Workshop on Laser Ranging, Potsdam Germany, October 9-14, 2016 [Full Text (Link)]

                                                                                                                                                                                            
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