After 12 years of photographing the space shuttle, and even getting to work for NASA as a photographer for the final three years of the program, I never had the privilege of going inside the cockpit until the program was over.
After NASA Night at the 2012 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, Texas, a group of young scientists (most of us just out of graduate school) met to discuss what we could do both in the near and far term to revive NASA's ability to continue the flagship mission program we would all like to see in our future.
The President's proposed 2013 NASA budget calls for deep cuts to the nation's very successful planetary science program. These cuts not only threaten the future of planetary science, but also impact our ability to conduct deep space missions. As the next generation of planetary scientists, the graduate student community is deeply concerned about the ramifications of these budget cuts, and we must voice our concerns to policymakers in Washington, D.C.
NASA's Mars science exploration budget is being decimated, we are not going back to the Moon, and plans for astronauts to visit Mars are delayed until the 2030s -- on funding not yet allocated, overseen by a congress and president to be named later.
We explore space for the noblest goals of science and exploration, and we often persevere in spite of challenges. But space exploration is fraught with bad things happening, or, to use the technical term, ouchies. The Planetary Society's Phobos LIFE biomodule will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere in the next few days with the rest of the Phobos-Grunt mission.
Bill Nye, the Executive Director of the Planetary Society will be at his alma mater, Cornell University, this Saturday, August 27, for the dedication of a remarkable Solar Noon Clock that has been installed on the front face of Rhodes Hall on the Cornell campus.
I have to admit it: three months ago I did not understand why space science is important. This is a pretty bold statement coming from a practicing aerospace engineer, but recent events have corrected this lack of understanding, and I am not embarrassed to correct myself in this blog. But let us not get ahead of the story.
Meteorites hit Earth all the time, but they almost never score direct hits on human-built structures (or humans, for that matter). Once in a while, though, direct hits do happen, and it looks like this recent event in Poland was the real thing.
The Planetary Society's Shuttle LIFE experiment is now go for launch on Endeavour's STS-134 mission. I came down to Florida for the loading of our tiny sample tubes into the CREST-1 (Commercial Reusable Experiments for Science & Technology) payload block.
I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity today for a face-to-face visit with one of the biggest celebrities in my world: Curiosity, the next Mars rover. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory gave members of the media a chance to suit up in the white coveralls known as "bunny suits" and enter the Spacecraft Assembly Facility, the clean room in which Curiosity is being assembled and prepared for launch.
I was heading south to Tokyo with Seiko and Ishi, two students from the conference. We were planning a dinner together, maybe catching the nighttime skyline from the top of Tokyo Tower. I dozed off as the train flew silently through the countryside. Next thing I knew, Seiko was shaking me awake saying "Earthquake! Earthquake."