Couldn't find element LayerAd

Error finding content

VOCALS Postcard from the Field: The Center of Operations - Windows to the Universe

Shop Windows to the Universe

Arches National Park Geology Tour provides an extensive, visually rich description of the geology of Arches, by Deborah Ragland, Ph.D. See our DVD collection.

    Image courtesy of Robert Wood

From: Dr. Robert Wood
Arica, Chile, October 24, 2008

The Center of Operations

The Operations Center is at the center of large field experiments like VOCALS. Here, the scientists plan their aircraft missions. Here is where these plans are passed from the minds of the scientists to the pilots, ground crew and support staff that turn them into reality. Next time you fly on a commercial airliner think about all the people working at the airport and on the plane that have been involved in flying you to your destination. It's a big operation!

The Operations Center is also where discoveries are made. The scientific data from all the various missions are collected here and analyzed by the many scientists involved. Together the scientists form a large human computer whose goal is to make sense of all the data. Only through careful analysis of the data is it clear what these discoveries actually are. It is very difficult to know exactly what new discoveries will be made - in fact, the most exciting thing about discovery is that we don't know what surprises are around the corner.

In the photograph you can everyone here listening to a mission briefing whereby preliminary results from a given flight are presented for the first time to the scientists. The Operations Center is an exciting place to be because there is so much going on, and so much new information to try to make sense of.

Postcards from the Field: Climate Science from the Southeast Pacific

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

What is VOCALS?

What if you wanted to learn more about the climate system of a very large area such as the Southeast Pacific Ocean? What would be involved in studying how the oceans, land, and atmosphere interact? You...more

The Scientific Process

How does scientific research actually work? How do scientists actually come up with explanations for the things that happen around us? The first step in the scientific process occurs whenever a scientist...more

What are the results of VOCALS?

Long after the VOCALS campaign is completed, the scientists’ work will continue. They must process, review, and study the data to determine what has been learned. Many model runs will be made and analyzed....more

Iquique Ops Center

Rob Wood's postcard about the Arica Operations Center inspired me to write one about the Iquique Operations Center. Every day, there is a meeting at 10:30 AM to discuss the status and plans of all the...more


Communication is an integral part of large scale science projects like VOCALS. It started years ago between people from the various institutions involved, via long distance phone calls and many, many emails....more

Rhea George

Many students in atmospheric science were motivated to enter the field by some fascinating extreme weather event experienced as a child. This was not the case with me. When I was an undergraduate I was...more

Dr. Boris Dewitte

I'm a physical oceanographer interested in climate variability and especially the El Niño phenomenon. Other than the annual cyle of the seasons, El Niño is the largest pulsation of the climate. I'm interested...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF