While doing my daily reading today I was struck by the awesomeness of two recent blog posts. Both were composed not by professional bloggers like me but by professional space explorers, one a scientist and the other an engineer.
I was not trained as a journalist, so before I started working for the Planetary Society I had no understanding of how much news reporters depend upon press releases to generate story ideas. Did you know that most of the news that you read on the Web or in a newspaper or hear on the radio probably originated as a press release or an arranged press event from somewhere?
When a spacecraft has visited a new body for the first time, the usual answer to any scientific question is "it's too early to know; we need to study the data more." Scientists are usually very careful to avoid speculation while they're on press panels. But today's press briefing wasn't like that at all.
I was driving home from the Mars Science Laboratory site selection workshop yesterday when I got a thrilling call informing me that I've been awarded the 2011 Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award.
Science is all about asking questions, coming up with ideas that might explain the answers, and then poking at those ideas to see if they work. Scientists spend much of their time in solitary research working out those ideas. But they also devote big chunks of time to meetings where they pitch their ideas and see what their peers think of them.
The stories I write about originate in space, of course, but as I was wrestling with what to write about in the couple of weeks before my vacation, it occurred to me that a lot of you might not know what tends to trigger space writers to choose what to write about.