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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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)
What are those billowy clouds coming out from the rocket? It’s not smoke!
Why are the booster rockets on the side asymetrical? There are four. Why aren’t they evenly placed around the main rocket?
What are those towers around the rocket? Why are they taller than the rocket?
What is that “train” track in the foreground?
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.
I am very excited to have been asked to do a post on the Scientific American Guest Blog about my recent participation in the #GRAIL #NASATweetup. It went live yesterday (9/21/2011). Click on the screen capture below to go to the original location to read the entire post!
I’m back, and it hardly seems fair that over a week has transpired since I left Florida and Kennedy Space Center. This is the first of several posts that will be a photo travelogue of my adventures during the #GRAIL #NASATweetup (for some background info about the NASATweetup and my participation, go here). My traveling companion is Gnoome, the stuffed (or plush, if you prefer) Moon. He is a traveling gnome wanna-be, hence, his name (which, pronounced in reverse is the object of the GRAIL mission).
If you want details of the science and rocketry (which are really pretty amazing), you should check out the references page on the wiki that I helped to administrate for our tweetup group. NASA does a wonderful job explaining the mission and, frankly, I couldn’t do it better.
The #GRAIL #NASATweetup was scheduled to begin on the morning of September 7, 2011. In order to arrive in time (and pick up my credentials early), I left at 2:30 AM on Tuesday, September 6th.
Gnoome and I headed out in the dark of night, armed with snack food, map, and plenty of coffee for the 10+ hour drive.
Our trip progressed quite well. No other travelers in the car, so we could just keep moving along (read: no extra long rest stops, food stops, etc). Before we knew it, we were in Florida. It's hard to tell from this photo, but it was actually raining. An ironic greeting to the Sunshine State!
There are some very, very good videos about NASA, the space program, and the Space Shuttles. But this one captures so much of the behind-the-scenes (and especially the myriad of unsung heroes behind the program–down to the people who make sandwiches for the astronauts) that it is well worth the hour to watch it.