Education: February 2010 Archives

Fake Mars Mission Befallen By Real Drama, Gizmodo

"The Mars Society is a group that prepares for man's eventual exploration of Mars with simulations in the Utahan desert. But their mission logs, posted regularly on the group's website, reveal a tension that is very real--and very funny. ... According to their "Mission Info" page, they are the first team comprised entirely of Belgians. In the wake of the trouble they've been having, it now seems ominous that the last line of their statement reads, "the media is following our project very closely."

- Live webcams
- Crew 90
- Log Book for February 15, 2010 Commander's Report

"Veteran space journalist and NASA Advisory Council member Miles O'Brien will testify on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Feb. 24, regarding what the public thinks of President Obama's space plan and NASA in general. What do you think? We appreciate your participation in this short survey. Thank you." Go here to participate in the survey.

Keith's note: If you'd like to suggest some comments for Miles, post them here. Brevity is encouraged.

Keith's update: Expected to testify are Miles O'Brien, Hoot Gibson, Mike Snyder, Tom Young - and Charlie Bolden.

And The Children Shall Lead

Embry-Riddle Speech, Homer Hickam

"So, I say to you students of Embry-Riddle, don't be afraid and please don't walk away from a career in aerospace. The nation is depending on you to pry from the tiller of space the hands of those who don't understand what its promise means. The nation is depending on you to rebuild from the wreckage that our present leaders may cause. The nation is depending on you to bring the vigor of youth to aging bureaucracies and to make them all new and bright again. This you can do, this you must do, and this old rocket boy is certain you will do. Now go forth and make me proud."

"Inspired by NASA's Constellation Program, iRover is a fun way to tour the Lunar surface and see some of the elements that make up NASA's Lunar architecture.

Description: Drive your Lunar Electric Rover (LER) over the Lunar surface to conduct missions. Rescue stranded crew members, transport crewmembers, and launch and recover other Landers. Avoid being caught on the surface unprotected during Solar Particle Events (SPEs)."

Buy it at the iTunes Apps store

NASA Advisory Council Education and Public Outreach Subcommittee Meeting (17 Feb 2010)


"- Associate Administrator for Public Affairs Briefing.
- Discussion of Social Media Opportunities and Challenges.
- Associate Administrator for Education Briefing.
- Discussion of Opportunities and Challenges to Reach K-12 Students.
- Discussion of how to Organize the Committee Work Plan."

Keith's note: All of these NAC committee and subcommittee meetings are almost always held in a windowless conference room inside NASA HQ. If you can get to them then you can sit and listen - if you happen to read the Federal Register or NASA Watch and even know that they are happening. Otherwise, you are out of luck since NASA never records them for later viewing by taxpayers. Given the tremendous changes that have been proposed for the agency, employees and the public have a vested interest in these discussions - now more than at any time in recent years.

The NASA people who supported the Augustine Committee's activities set a new standard for how social media can be used to relay policy information to the public. Indeed, they often had things online before the media covering these events did. There is no reason why that standard of quality should not be applied to all public meetings concerning NASA policy.

Given that the Obama Administration is all about openness, transparency and all that good public participation stuff - and that this meeting is about "Education and Public Outreach" perhaps PAO AA Morrie Goodman (a scheduled speaker) can start with this subcommittee and provide a live webcast of this event on NASA's USTREAM.TV account. The webcast can be archived for later viewing.

It is very easy to do. All it takes is a laptop, a webcam, and an Internet connection. I have done these things on an EVDO modem live at Desert RATS from the middle of an Arizona desert, from the basement of Rayburn House Office Building, and from Everest Base Camp in Nepal at 17,500 feet over a satellite phone.

Photo: Keith addressing a session at a broadcasters convention in Atlanta in April 2009 via laptop webcam live over a BGAN satellite phone from a field outside the monastery in Tengboche, Nepal. Note the very, very dense fog - yaks lurked in the mist a few feet away. Larger image

NASA and GM Create Cutting Edge Robotic Technology

"NASA and General Motors are working together to accelerate development of the next generation of robots and related technologies for use in the automotive and aerospace industries. Engineers and scientists from NASA and GM worked together through a Space Act Agreement at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston to build a new humanoid robot capable of working side by side with people. Using leading edge control, sensor and vision technologies, future robots could assist astronauts during hazardous space missions and help GM build safer cars and plants."

Keith's note: I certainly hope that NASA and GM are going to create a road show for these cool-looking robots. Once you have built one or two then building multiple copies starts to get cheaper. NASA and GM should put them on display and then invite the public into GM plants across the U.S. to see them in action. Show how NASA technology is going to help the U.S. auto industry thrive and rebound as well as explore space. Take the robots to local schools and local chamber of commerce events and let people try them out for a drive, so to speak. Make certain that flyers and other promotional materials are in EVERY GM dealership in America and that very new GM car has something in the drivers sear about these robots to go with it. Put the robots in a GM TV commercial. Work with Mattel or other toy companies to make action figures. Work with Legos to make small hobby versions of the robot - indeed have school competitions where kids are encouraged to make their own copies.

This is a Education and Public Outreach activity that is just begging to be implemented. If NASA can lavish lots of attention on a fake robot like Buzz Lightyear one would hope that they could do the same for the real thing.

Keith's note: Now that NASA has been directed by the White House to cancel Constellation, and with it, all of NASA's big time lunar ambitions, I wonder when they will start to yank things like this sad dancing Moon walker animation offline. Seriously - this is not an insignificant task since there is an immense amount of VSE-related material that NASA has put online since 2004 that will now need to be modified or deleted. In addition, many third party websites contain large amounts of this material as well. And when do you start? Now? When Congress gives up trying to stop this cancellation?

Imagine that there was an Internet in 1967 and you had to erase the Apollo program.

Keith's note: I asked NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver "While NASA has certainly been at the forefront of using new media - social media etc. - to connect with the public it still has a long way to go to catch up with how people actually learn and communicate in the real world. As you well know Education and Public Outreach at NASA is all too often an afterthought or a "nice to have" activity. Yet it is often the only way that the public really comes to understand what NASA does since press releases are aimed at the media - not real people. There has been a lot of talk about something NASA calls "participatory exploration". Can you elaborate on the new ways that NASA will engage the public and describe the priority for such efforts from an overall agency perspective."

Lori replied "The budget has $5 million to do this sort of thing. When we look at robotic prcursor missions - not only will we land - but we will have milions of people travelling along with us - with robots that can be controlled from Earth by students. This will be an oportunity for the taxpaying public who owns this program to participate. We hope to take take a page from DARPA and allow people to utilizing the science we develop. This is the people's program and we are giving it back to them."



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This page is an archive of entries in the Education category from February 2010.

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