Press Release

May 22, 2024
Cardin, Van Hollen, Hoyer Announce NASA’s Reinstatement of Maryland-Led GEDI Mission for Climate Change Research

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Steny Hoyer (all D-Md.) today announced that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is restarting the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) for climate change research on the International Space Station (ISS). It was initially scheduled for de-orbiting in early 2023 in order for a Department of Defense (DOD) technology demonstration, STP-H9, to take its dock. In response to the lawmakers’ urging both in writing a letter to and meeting with NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, NASA agreed to place GEDI in storage aboard the ISS – instead of de-orbiting it to incinerate in the atmosphere – while STP-H9 completed its mission. With STP-H9 now concluded, GEDI is being recommissioned after a 14-month pause and will resume collecting data this summer.

“The return of NASA’s Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) to its original location aboard the International Space Station (ISS) is exciting news for Maryland and the incredible minds at the University of Maryland and NASA Goddard. Through their collaborative efforts, GEDI has provided new insights into our home planet and the effects of climate change. With GEDI’s return to operation, we will have another decade of state-of-the-art observations of our forests and habitats.  GEDI’s ongoing success is a testament to what is possible when academia and government partner together to create new possibilities,” said Senator Cardin.

“From its critical vantage point above earth’s atmosphere, GEDI has been a key tool for collecting a wide range of data on climate change. We are grateful that NASA saw the value in its mission and worked with us to keep it alive. Now that it will be recommissioned, GEDI can finish its job and leading researchers at the University of Maryland and around the world can count on the vital data it provides to inform our efforts to combat the climate crisis and more,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“The announcement that NASA is restarting the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) to complete its data collection, led by the University of Maryland in collaboration with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, further proves that Maryland remains at the forefront of climate change research and scientific discovery,” said Congressman Hoyer. “The data from GEDI will improve scientific understanding for biodiversity and ecosystem resilience, provide critical information for land use management, combat deforestation, and inform climate change mitigation efforts. I remain committed to ensuring Goddard Space Flight Center remains the premier center for studying the earth sciences and informing climate impacts.”

“Data from GEDI has provided tremendous scientific value and helps researchers better understand the impacts of climate change and how to potentially slow global warming,” said University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines. “We’re so grateful to Maryland’s Congressional delegation for fighting to put GEDI back on the International Space Station where it will continue to gather information that is crucial to protecting the future of our planet.”

GEDI, which is led by the University of Maryland in collaboration with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, is a high-resolution laser that scans and collects data on Earth’s forests and topography from the ISS, measuring carbon storage and changes resulting from land use and climate change. The mission is anticipated to continue through the life of the space station, which could mean up to ten years of valuable data collection.