Personnel News: March 2020 Archives

NASA Weekly Update from the Administrator - March 23, 2020

Most of the agency remains at Stage 3 of NASA's Response Framework to COVID-19, with mandatory telework for all employees and limited exceptions for on-site work. Ames, Michoud and Stennis are at Stage 4 with personnel on-site to protect life and critical infrastructure. Recently, Glenn Research Center in Ohio and NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City have also been elevated to Stage 4. Every precaution is being taken to safeguard the health of our workforce. Agency leadership is regularly evaluating mission-essential activities and determining what can safely proceed and what should be completed through telework. Please continue to stay in frequent contact with your supervisor and check the NASA People website regularly for updates.

Keith's note: I have been hearing from NASA and contractor employees who are still working and considered to be "essential". "Essential" is a term used by the government and does not mean that other people are not "essential". That said, those people who have been deemed to have an "essential" role face the same risks, stresses, and concerns as the rest of us. This email from someone at KSC speaks very clearly to this issue. Perhaps NASA can respond to those people who cannot telework and must be onsite.

"Hi Keith,

I am a Contractor employee at KSC working on SLS. Could you do the Mission Essential Contractor Team at KSC a favor and ask the NASA Administrator a question. Since we are all concerned about the Corona virus and since every day at work we hear a Safety message why are we still working SLS at KSC. Seems kinda hypocritical. Close the NASA Centers and discontinue all work in an abundance of caution until we as a Country get through this. Safety first.

Thanks"

Keith's update: KSC Worker Confirmed with COVID-19, Talk of Titusville

Al Worden

Keith's note: The other day I posted a note about the passing of Nancy Evans. I got a nice note from Michael Ravine at Malin Space Science Systems about Nancy. She was truly another often unsung hero in the tradition of "Hidden Figures":

"Your story about Nancy made me think about her contribution to something I was involved in: I spent the second half of the eighties working for Ed Danielson at Caltech, building the Mars Observer Camera for Mike Malin, then at ASU. The team was mostly twenty-something kids, smart but inexperienced, but Ed leavened it with a few people had actually worked in the space business before. One of those was Nancy Evans. Ed hired Nancy to run the schedule and deal with the other paperwork tasks that this business demands. None of us kids had much patience for that stuff, and I know it was an ongoing challenge for her to maintain a rational schedule on top of the chaos that was going on at the work level. But she did it, and we eventually got the instrument delivered. The MOC was lost when Mars Observer blew up, but we put together the spare MOC and it was flown on Mars Global Surveyor. That, fortunately, made it to Mars, and made some amazing discoveries. Like many other people, Nancy deserves a slice of credit for that.

One day in 1988, I brought my camera into work and shot pictures of everyone, to try to capture what it was like there, then. I shot this one of Nancy, caught (I see now, squinting at the picture) entering an RFA from our recent instrument CDR into a spreadsheet so she could track it. Now, I'm older than she was in this picture, and I'm the one that gets build spreadsheets to track RFAs."

Larger image

NASA: Reporting Requirements Regarding Findings of Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Other Forms of Harassment, or Sexual Assault

"NASA is publishing, in final form, a new term and condition regarding sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, and sexual assault. ... The many hundreds of U.S. institutions of higher education and other organizations that receive NASA funds are responsible for fully investigating complaints under and for compliance with federal non- discrimination laws, regulations, and executive orders. The implementation of new reporting requirements is necessary to help ensure research environments to which NASA provides funding are free from sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, and sexual assault. Additionally, NASA is bolstering our policies, guidelines, and communications. These requirements are intended, first, to better ensure that organizations funded by NASA clearly understand expectations and requirements. In addition, NASA seeks to ensure that recipients of grants and cooperative agreements respond promptly and appropriately to instances of sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, and sexual assault."

- New NASA Statements on Discrimination and Harassment Policies, earlier post
- NASA Speaks About Harassment in Space Science and Astronomy, earlier post
- New Report On Harassment in Science & Engineering Released, earlier post

Nancy Evans

"Nancy Liggett Evans 11/22/1937 - 1/17/2020 was born to M. Margaret and Dr. Robert Samuel Liggett in Denver Colorado. She was married to E. Wayne Bamford bearing a daughter Megan Ann. She was later married to William J. Evans of Denver. Moving to California in the 70's, she was employed in planetary exploration at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA headquarters and the California Institute of Technology. Known as the "mother" of the Planetary Data System; she later enabled the digitization of the Lunar orbiter images. However, the work of her lifetime was the development, documentation and practice of veterinary acupuncture. She was working on a book about this subject, but it was not completed. She is remembered by her daughter Megan, son in law Mike Flynn, her sister Margaret Ann and many friends and acquaintances."

Image: From 2008: Lunar Orbiter Program Manager Lee Scherer and Nancy Evans in front of the restored and operational FR-900 tape drive used to retrieve Lunar Orbiter images. There was not a dry eye in the house when they both visited. Link

The Hackers Who Recovered NASA's Lost Lunar Photos, Wired

"When they learned through a Usenet group that former NASA employee Nancy Evans might have both the tapes and the super-rare Ampex FR-900 drives needed to read them, they jumped into action. They drove to Los Angeles, where the refrigerator-sized drives were being stored in a backyard shed surrounded by chickens. At the same time, they retrieved the tapes from a storage unit in nearby Moorpark, and things gradually began to take shape. Funding the project out of pocket at first, they were consumed with figuring out how to release the images trapped in the tapes."

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2020/earthise.old.new.med.2.jpg

Keith's note: Nancy Evans saw the undiscovered value in the Lunar Orbiter tapes when no one else did. NASA usually likes new, shiny things - not old, dusty things. Nancy put her money where her mouth was and fought to save these tapes as best she could - as well as the drives needed to read them. As a result the world now has an archive of ultra-high lunar imagery from the mid-1960s which can often exceed contemporary imagery and can be used to study changes in the lunar surface over the span of half a century. That imagery is now online in the Planetary Data System - which Nancy lead the development of - where it belongs, along side data from other NASA missions.

Sometimes being a true space pioneer can be as simple as not throwing things out when you are told to throw them out. History is an inexhaustible resource for new discoveries. Nancy Evans did a diving catch and saved some of that NASA history. NASA would do well to take a fresh look at its old data. Who knows what lies within that data awaiting discovery.

Ad Astra Nancy.

- Memorial information (21 March 2022).
- Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, official (archived) website
- Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, Wikipedia
- Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) Online Data Volumes, NASA PDS

Message From the Associate NASA Administrator: Coronavirus Update

"As the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation continues to evolve, I am updating you on behalf of the NASA leadership team regarding actions we are taking to respond to this serious and evolving situation. As always, the protection and care of our NASA team is the top priority and critical to the success of our mission.

. Friday, March 6, will be an agencywide telework day. The purpose of this exercise is to test our capabilities, resources, and preparedness for large-scale teleworking. Participation is optional and highly encouraged. Remember to take home your government-furnished computer, if you have one.

. A separate email will be sent later in the week with additional information about the agencywide telework day. The email will include guidance on use of the Virtual Private Network (VPN) and virtual collaboration tools, and other helpful information. This is also an opportunity to ensure your home internet connection can support teleworking.

. Contractors should speak with their program manager and/or COR regarding telework eligibility and then they are required to follow company guidance/policy regarding telework, travel, and all other work activities. NASA will remain OPEN throughout this exercise."

Chuck Berry, M.D.

Charles Berry, an early NASA physician, dies at 96, Huston Chronicle

"Dr. Charles "Chuck" A. Berry, a NASA physician who helped select the country's first astronauts and devised tests to see if they could survive the demands of space, died in his sleep Saturday night in his Houston home. He was 96 years old. Berry is considered a pioneer in aviation medicine, with a 68-year career in which he served as a flight surgeon for the U.S. Air Force, director of life sciences for NASA, an aviation medical examiner for the Federal Aviation Administration and an aerospace medicine consultant."

NASA Johnson Space Center Oral History Project Edited Oral History Transcript: Charles A. Berry

"I have a deep and abiding faith in the human capability to adapt to almost--the human body is set up in a way that it will adapt to most anything within reason, within some reason. It's going to go through adaptive changes. Of course, then the big question, in my mind, is, is what we're seeing an adaptive change and how far can it go and still be adaptive and not interfere with the performance of the individual involved. That was the real crux of everything that we were going to do. When we got the people to go for those time periods and saw that they could perform and things weren't getting worse, we still didn't know at the end of the Gemini Program, we didn't know which way things were going to go. Had we reached a point where things weren't going to get worse? We certainly didn't know."


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This page is an archive of entries in the Personnel News category from March 2020.

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