The Goddard Earth Sciences Technology and Research II (GESTAR II) center was established in November 2021 based on a cooperative agreement between the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s (GSFC) Earth Sciences Division (ESD) and a Consortium of five universities, one non-profit academic association, and two corporate entities, to advance Goddard’s Earth science leadership by providing a competitive environment to hire and retain high-quality scientists who are on track to be leaders at NASA, in academia, and/or in the industry. The GESTAR II Consortium comprises: the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), Morgan State University (MSU), Arizona State University (ASU), Colorado State University (CSU), Pennsylvania State University (PSU), Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA), and Earth Resources Technology (ERT), with Northrop Grumman as a collaborator organization. UMBC serves as the lead institution with MSU as the major partner, and the other academic partners ASU, CSU, and PSU have outstanding research programs in the Earth science disciplines. All academic partners train and mentor Earth science graduate students and early-career faculty and incorporate diversity and inclusion as a university goal. GESTAR II corporate partners bring flexibility and access to a diverse, local, and national talent pool to expand scientific and technological collaborations with Goddard scientists.

GESTAR II employs more than 150 scientists who are distributed across virtually all laboratories of the ESD and one branch of the Instrument Systems & Technology Division at NASA/GSFC. Working in close collaboration with their respective NASA sponsors, GESTAR II scientists conduct cutting-edge research to address important topics and deliver innovative algorithms, numerical models, transformative datasets, and analysis results that provide beneficial solutions. Our scientists are also engaged (some with leadership roles) in the development and operation of scientific instrumentation for ground-based, suborbital, and space missions that support NASA’s strategic goals and Earth Science Mission objectives.

GESTAR II has been built on UMBC’s strong legacy and experience in successfully hosting NASA Earth science and technology cooperative centers over more than a quarter-century, including the Joint Center for Earth Science and Technology (JCET, 1997-2022) and the Goddard Earth Science and Technology (GEST 2001–2011). Through GESTAR II, UMBC expands this legacy by leading a consortium of universities and private sector organizations. The primary goal of GESTAR II is to enhance the capability of Goddard’s Earth Sciences research program in support of NASA’s strategic science mission objectives. This is being accomplished primarily through the innovative and transformative research from the cradle of university laboratories to NASA’s mission realization developed through integrated onsite collaborations between the GESTAR II scientists and their NASA counterparts. The GESTAR II cooperative agreement has established an environment conducive to open and impactful scientific research, with an emphasis on increasing the involvement of minority and women scientists in Earth science and supporting the professional advancement of GESTAR II scientists.