Category Archives: NASA

Coming up: My trip to NASA JPL for an Earth Science NASA Social!

Next week I’ll be in Pasadena for a NASA Social at the Jet Propulsion Lab!

This view of Earth comes from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer aboard the Terra satellite. Click the photo for larger image.

This view of Earth comes from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer aboard the Terra satellite. Click to embiggen.

Here are some details from the JPL Press Release about the event:

NASA is inviting its social media followers to apply for participation in a two-day NASA Social on Nov. 4 and 5 at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The event will highlight NASA and JPL’s role in studying Earth and its climate and will preview three Earth-observing missions JPL is preparing for launch in 2014.

The event will offer people who connect with NASA through Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social networks the opportunity to interact with scientists and engineers working on upcoming missions and participate in hands-on demonstrations. Participants will also interact with fellow tweeps, space enthusiasts and members of NASA’s social media team. They will get a behind-the-scenes tour of JPL, including:

— The Spacecraft Assembly Facility, where hardware for two upcoming Earth missions is currently under construction. This clean room is also where NASA’s Voyager and Cassini spacecraft and the Curiosity, Opportunity and Spirit Mars rovers were built and tested.
— The JPL Earth Science Center, where data from many of the agency’s Earth-observing missions are showcased in interactive displays.
— The Mission Control Center of NASA’s Deep Space Network, where engineers “talk to” spacecraft across the solar system and in interstellar space.
— The JPL Mars Yard, where engineers and scientists test engineering models of NASA’s Curiosity rover in a sandy, Mars-like environment.

The two NASA/JPL Earth-observing missions being assembled at JPL are the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) spacecraft and ISS-RapidScat. SMAP will produce global maps of soil moisture for tracking water availability around our planet. ISS-RapidScat is a scatterometer instrument that will be mounted outside the International Space Station to measure ocean surface wind speeds and directions. ISS-RapidScat is scheduled to launch first, in April 2014, with SMAP scheduled to launch in October 2014.

A third NASA/JPL Earth mission, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2), scheduled to launch in July 2014, is in final assembly and testing at an Orbital Sciences Corp. facility in Gilbert, Ariz. The mission will be NASA’s first dedicated Earth remote-sensing satellite to study atmospheric carbon dioxide from space.

To join and track the conversation online during the NASA Socials, follow the hashtag #NASASocial.

More information about connecting and collaborating with NASA is at: NASA Connect
For more on SMAP, visit: SMAP
For more on ISS-RapidScat, visit: ISSRapidScat and RapidScat Mission
For more on OCO-2, visit: OCO-2


360º Panorama of NASA JPL Mission Control

This is a 360º panorama of one of the Mission Control rooms at NASA JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab). I visited JPL in August and was thrilled to be in the rooms where history has been made. Click through and use your mouse to rotate the room to see everything. Notice the Deep Space Network relays (look for the little satellite dishes)? That’s us talking to Mars (and other planets) and getting messages in reply. Pretty cool, huh?

More pics and behind-the-scenes tidbits soon!

Spacecraft 3D App (Augmented Reality)

Doug Ellison, of NASA JPL, gives a demo of the amazing Spacecraft 3D app. This free app allows you to explore 3D augmented reality imagery of the Mars Curiosity rover. The GRAIL spacecraft is also part of the current version of the app. Other spacecraft will be added over the coming months. NOTE: I clipped the video a few seconds BEFORE Doug starts talking about Spacecraft 3D… so first image is of another project. For full video of the MSL landing event see here.

Video streaming by Ustream

Download the app yourself, print out the target page and start exploring!

Maggie explores the Curiosity rover with 3D augmented reality!

For more about Mars Curiosity
On Twitter: Follow @MarsCuriosity and @NASAJPL
On Facebook:
Explore Mars Curiosity online

Mars Curiosity Landing from NASA HQ!

As many of you know, I was at the launch of Mars Curiosity in November 2011 at the #MSL #NASATweetup. So, it was particularly thrilling to have a last minute opportunity to go to NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC for the landing!

I tagged along with the amazing DC Drinkup SpaceTweeps. In addition to games of War with Space Cards and a round of #MSL Bingo that had a Meteorite as a prize, we ate Mars cupcakes and supplied the traditional peanuts for the landing.

That’s me coming through the door! The pic was taken & tweeted by Alan Ladwig, Deputy Associate Administrator for Communications – Public Outreach (NASA HQ).

The blog Tea With Lemon liveblogged the night from our NASA HQ location and did a fantastic job catching the flavor of the evening. We were so excited to be with NASA folks for the landing! Check out the post yourself!

Here’s a pic of the audience (I’ve enlarged the part with me in it, third row, but highly engrossed in the landing coverage).

We all received some great Mars Curiosity mission information & goodies–stickers, pins, comic book, and more!

Mars Curiosity: 7 Minutes of Terror (or How to Land a Rover)

This video is amazing. For those who have been following the adventures and challenges of getting the Mars Science Lab (Curiosity) to Mars, this is the next big step. I was thrilled to watch the launch of Curiosity in November during a NASATweetup (see NASAsocial for info on how you can get inside NASA).

But there is more than a mission to Mars here. This video is a window to the science, creativity, problem-solving, and incredible human team (men AND women) who work at NASA — especially NASA JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, CA).

Mark your calendars for Aug 5/6 (depending on which time zone you live in). The landing is anticipated at approximately 10:31 p.m. PDT Aug. 5 (1:31 a.m. EDT Aug. 6)

Curious to learn more? The Curiosity Mission page and Mars Science Lab website will get you started!

NASA includes Social Media with Traditional Media for Budget Briefing

There we sat. Twitter users. No special badges saying we were “tweeps,” No special seating gallery. No instructions to just “observe” the “real” media.

The New Media Corp

NASA decided that this time, from the get-to of the FY2013 budget briefing at NASA HQ (2/13/2012), everyone in the room was media and was important. From the podium, Bob Jacobs (@bnjacobs), NASA’s deputy associate administrator for Communications and the moderator for the event, explained:

This year we’re trying something a little different, as well as traditional media representatives, for the first time we have invited members of the social media community to be a part of today’s presentation and we’ll be taking questions via Twitter using the hashtag #askNASA.

NASA's Bob Jacobs

Bob Jacobs (@bnjacobs), NASA's deputy associate administrator for Communications tweets a pic of the Media Corp at beginning of the Budget Briefing.

NASA acknowledged that social media is a valid means of media communication and should be included in briefings alongside the AP, Nature, Orlando Sentinel, and the other traditional media outlets represented. We were allowed to ask questions, to talk to Administrator Charles Bolden, Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Robinson, and the other NASA officials just like anyone else in the room. In short: no second-class citizens in the media corp.

It was a very special time–not just for those of us in the room–but for the army of social media journalists who have waited for recognition and validation of their status as “real” media.

Lindsey Mastis recorded Bob Jacobs’ thoughts on the relationship between NASA and social media. You can read her report of the briefing here.

Ice, Rockets, and Steam

Check out this photo from Chase Clark. He’s got a series of photos from the initial 1.6 seconds of the Atlas V rocket launch (Nov 26, 2011) that is propelling the Mars Curiosity rover to Mars.

Notice the ice on the rocket. Why is there ice? Why does it break off like that? What happens after it breaks off? Be curious and find out!

Why this NASA photo of Atlas V rocket should make you Curious

I am always trying to encourage people to Stay Curious. Sure, I can give you information (and will be happy to), but often it is better for people to be curious about something and discover answers for themselves. However, many folks are out of the habit of being curious, so I will help prod you a bit. I ask you, why should this NASA photo of the Atlas V rocket which launched on Sat., 11/26, make you curious?

Curiosity Rover Lifts Off for Mars (Image Credit: NASA)

  1. What are those billowy clouds coming out from the rocket? It’s not smoke!
  2. Why are the booster rockets on the side asymetrical? There are four. Why aren’t they evenly placed around the main rocket?
  3. What are those towers around the rocket? Why are they taller than the rocket?
  4. What is that “train” track in the foreground?
  5. Do you know what is inside the rocket? Where is the payload? How does it get out?

Hints to help you:
This rocket launched off SLC 41 (that may help you get information about the launchpad configurations)
The group responsible for the rocket was the United Launch Alliance

Here’s a link to the Astronomy Picture of the Day, where the photo was highlighted on Wed, Nov 30th. Read the caption there and you will find links to several aspects of the launch and mission.

Now, go get curious. And stay that way!