Thursday, September 20, 2007

NASA Discovery Conference Day 2

Day 2 of the the Discovery @15 Conference began with the "Development and Project Management" session. Right now the quote of the panel is "Everyone draws a good org chart" (Paul Gilbert) the question is who are the personalities driving the project. The chemistry of project team is a key to success. Important keys to early Discovery Mission success "Focused Science" and "Minimize Risk" that changed the paradigm of Solar System exploration.

Now back to tweeting from Discovery @15

Next up will be Wes Huntress "Discovery- on the Road Again"

Wes Huntress "the father of the Discovery Program"

Discovery -- lower cost...using smaller launch vehicles and smaller spacecraft and finding new ways of doing business

Mars Observer was to be the 1st low cost mission before ballooned in cost and disappeared at Mars Orbit insertion

Mars Observer link (I was supposed to work on day from MO..changed my career path)

The loss or Mars Observer taught us we had to manage way "test, test and test"

New model NASA would "buy whole missions from the science community" first time missions were competed

There hasn't been a full mission selection in Discovery in 5 years...we were supposed to launch every 18 months.

The loss of the Delta II launch vehicle will hurt Discovery

Huntress: "we found by experiment the limits to "better, faster, cheaper" and the pendulum has swung in wrong direction

Next up the EPO session

All Discovery mission proposals must include and Education and Outreach plan

The first presenter in Shari Asplund EPO lead for the Discovery Program

A new addition to EPO for Discovery is "student collaboration" ways to involve high school and undergraduate students

many missions participate in Master Educator Progams...Solar System Educators and MESSENGER Educator Fellows

missions also conduct educator workshops and develop curriculum -reach k-4 thru stories and songs- older kids get involved in mission data

Discovery works with museums, planetariums, networks of amateur astronomers and solar system ambassadors

Jacinta Behne is talking about EPO for the Genesis mission

Jacinta "we need to translate complex content in various ways to meet the needs of our various audiences"
check out the interactive periodic table from the Genesis misssion

Genesis also managed to get a Genesis video on United Airlines flights...

Deep Impact EPO from Maura Rountree Brown

Deep Impact had Lucy McFadden a science team member as part of the EPO

Maura "You have to be careful the plan has to be cohesive" what do audiences need, what science does our mission bring..who needs to know

Deep Impact EPO built a philosophy and aligned all activities

prepare for the unknowns known unknowns and unknown unknowns advice to EPO leads

next session for Discovery @15 the Complexities of Deep Space Operations

Andy Cheng is now talking about the challenges of NEAR

NEAR was the first planetary mission outside a NASA center...web was new then..first mission to have a website and Andy was an early blogger

check out the videos of the NEAR Eros encounter

next up Mike A'Hearn the PI for the Deep Impact mission and PI for the Deep Impact extended mission

the impactor on Deep Impact was 1/3 ton 50% copper... the comet overtook the impactor

Check out "Deep Impact-A Smashing Success!

The Deep Space Operations panel is now up--

Deep Impact had more operations issues than anticipated..basically learning to operate the s/c and testing all of the command sequences

Genesis Sample return had the challenge of targeting away from earth til the last possible moment...they had 12 reviews that year

panelist: many of these missions underestimated the operations requirements at the proposal stage

Discovery @ 15 meeting has adjourned!

don't forget to check out the blog

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tweeting from NASA's Discovery at 15 Conference

I'm at the Discovery@15 Conference in Huntsville, AL. From the NASA Discovery website:

In space exploration, the possibilities for discovery are without limits. Even with the vast amount of knowledge gained since exploration of our solar system began, there are still more questions than answers.

NASA's Discovery Program gives scientists the opportunity to dig deep into their imaginations and find innovative ways to unlock the mysteries of the solar system. It represents a breakthrough in the way NASA explores space, with lower-cost, highly focused planetary science investigations designed to enhance our understanding of the solar system.

All completed Discovery missions have achieved ground-breaking science within strict cost and schedule limitations, each taking a unique approach to space exploration.

Reaching into the unknown, doing what's never been done before, and driving new technology innovations that may also improve life on Earth - this is NASA's Discovery Program.

I'll be adding my twitter comments throughout the meeting

is now in work mode tweeting from the Discover @ 15 meeting

just announced that all presentations will be video taped and podcast on the website eventually!

First up Bob Farquhar who worked on 3 Discovery missions including NEAR, Contour and MESSENGER

or more info about the Discovery missions check out ... I'm the education and out reach lead for MESSENGER

more on Bob Farquhar

Now Discovery Sample return missions: 1st up flew through the tail of a comet

read about aerogel: 99.8% air used to collect comet tail dust

If you want to find comet dust in aerogel check out Stardust at home

30,000 volunteers are already participating in Stardust @ home perk-you get to name the grains you find

Next up the Genesis mission that returned samples of the solar wind

The speaker for Genesis is Don Burnett

Genesis sampled high speed, low speed and Coronal Mass Ejections see mission gallery

Don is discussing some of the challenges related to the Genesis hard landing

amazing results are coming from research on the Genesis solar wind samples
Next up-- Technology Innovation thru the Discovery Missions--enabling technologies in a cost-capped program

Bill Borucki is talking about Kepler the mission to search for habitable planets outside of the Solar System

Kepler uses 42 CCDs covered in sapphire

"How can you quantify science? Its of infinite value" Bill Bourcki when asked quantify science value when Kepler was faced w/ budget cuts

Next up MESSENGER "How can you not like the planet Mercury?" MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon

The challenges to a Mercury orbiter....Mercury is very close to the sun...only spacecraft to visit Mercury is Mariner 10 in 1974- a flyby


Technology infusion for MESSENGER-46% of the mass of the spacecraft is fuel..needed to integrate structure and propulsion system.

....including specially designed tank on of 17 thrusters-given 1 Earth, 2 Venus and 3 Mercury flybys before orbit insertion

The sun is 11 times brighter at Mercury than earth...lead to ceramic cloth sunshade..behind the sunshade MESSENGER is room temperature

don't forget first Mercury flyby is Jan 14 2008 the first spacecraft results from Mercury in more than 32 years

The Dawn Mission technology infusion is Ion Propulsion-learn more at

Dawn is scheduled to launch Sept will visit two asteroids, Ceres and Vesta
now Discovery "Missions of Opportunity

The Discovery program supports international cooperation through Missions of Opportunity with international space agencies

ASPERA-3 is a suite of instruments on the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft

Moon Mineralogy Mapper will fly on the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft-- India' s first mission to moon

This official launch date of Chandyayann-1 is April 2008

M-cubed is a spectrometer with 260 spectral channels and 70 m resolution. So we will have high resolution maps of the elements on the moon

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Spreading the word

I have tried several strategies to bring people to "Adventures in Earth and Space". I post on Twitter when we update, and I have included the link in both my work and home email accounts as well as on facebook. Today Len Edgerly pointed me in a new direction with a post on twitter about Blog Rush, a widget to designed to promote blogs by subject area, based on traffic to a site. I'm going to give it a try. I would love to have others who are interested in earth and space science education find the site. So check out the "From the Blogsphere" box on this page to see other education-related blogs.