SSL 1996 Annual Report - Introduction
What is SSL?
1996 was another outstanding year for the Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL) as it made significant advances in our scientific knowledge and understanding of the Earth, solar system, and universe, and in the production of new materials in space.
SSL is a key part of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Alabama, and is the second-largest science laboratory in NASA. SSL's history predates NASA, and includes pioneering work in high-energy astrophysics, space plasma physics, solar physics, atmospheric sciences, and materials science. Today, SSL is organized into four divisions as shown below.
The NASA Strategic Plan states that a primary mission of the agency is "To advance and communicate scientific knowledge and understanding of the Earth, the solar system and the universe, and to use the environment of space for research."
The division of research within SSL into Earth, space, and microgravity science reflects this tripartite mission statement. SSL research supports three (noted in italics) of NASA's four strategic enterprises: Human Exploration and Development of Space, Mission to Planet Earth, Space Science, and Aeronautics. Scientists at SSL plan, coordinate, direct, and conduct original and supporting theoretical, experimental, and observational research in the first three enterprises. They also provide scientific leadership and support for Marshall Center programs.
On the pages that follow, we summarize some of SSL's outstanding scientific discoveries in 1996.
Last updated March 5, 1997