Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Returning to the Moon
Hi everyone, sorry for the extended hiatus. I took a new job at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center at the end of the summer and moved to Huntsville, AL in October. Wow! I can hardly believe it myself.
Initially, I'm here to support the Lunar Precursor Robotics Program. We'll have a new website soon that I'll point you to. We are currently serving as a conduit to understand what data the engineers need to get back to the Moon, and come up with some solutions to get them those data. We are the managers for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) missions, due to launch next year and return gobs of new data that will help address some engineering design issues (as well as new science of course). We are also developing an application called Lunar Mapping and Modeling, which will rapidly deliver these great new data to the users (engineers and scientists). I'm also here as a resource to other MSFC lunar activities, of which there are surprisingly many - the lunar impact monitoring group, the lunar simulant development effort, lunar dust and its effects work, and an interesting partnership with students in the UAH Mech E program to spend a semester designing a lunar lander mission. As if all that weren't enough, I'll also be working to build a lunar & planetary science group to do some great science in partnership with the opportunities afforded by exploration activities. You all know that the Moon is near and dear to my heart, so this is a very exciting opportunity for me to combine lunar science with my spacecraft experience and boundless enthusiasm to move lunar exploration forward!
Huntsville, AL is a completely pleasant community. It is powered by the Army's missile systems and Marshall's rocket propulsion, so it is full of aerospace industry branches, software and electronics companies, and other high-tech employers. It is a small town but populated by international and well-educated people. I'm already a member of a great NPR radio affiliate, the Huntsville Museum of Art, the Huntsville Botanical Gardens, a fantastic little pottery studio, and the amazing U.S. Space and Rocket Center (no, I never went to Space Camp). The photo above is the first one I took in Huntsville. It's a Saturn V rocket (replica) and the Moon. How cool is that ?! We also have a real Saturn V, but it is now exclosed in a protected building at the lower right of this photo. One of the greatest things about moving here is that the whole community is jazzed about the space program and going to the moon. When I meed people and tell them I am a lunar scientist, they are wowed and happy that I am here helping the program. It's pretty amazing support for me, my science, and my career actually. Let's go to the Moon!!!!!!!