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The NASA Effect

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Due to its high visibility, NASA has a far greater impact than what its budget might suggest. Fully funding NASA will stoke a pipeline of scientists and engineers as never before, and stimulate an entire nation to dream about tomorrow. Question: How would you advise NASA moving forward?DeGrasse Tyson:    My advice is not to NASA, my advice is to the general public and congress.  That there is no greater force of nature than NASA in stoking a pipeline of interested students who, one day, want to become scientists and engineers.  It's that simple.  You walk into an 8th grade classroom and the kids, 8th grade science class, not one of them will ever say to you, when I grow up, I want to be an NIH researcher or I want to be an NSF researcher.  They may, one day, be that but those 2 agencies, as important is the science that they do, do not have a force.  They don't come along with a force that operates on the ambitions of students.  NASA does because NASA is visible far beyond the budget is allocated.  You know this because if you ask people who'd say, why we're spending money up there and not down here, asking how much you think we're spending up there... Here's your tax dollar, how much?  The same 10%, 15%, maybe only 5%.  And then, you say, we spend six-tenths of one penny out of your tax dollar up there.  They say, I didn't know that.  That's the visibility factor.  This much money buys this much visibility.  And it's that visibility that operates on students within the educational pipeline.  And what you need is not NASA doing the same ol' same ol', all right?  You want NASA with a grand vision in front of it.  That everybody can look at [IB] that'll help stimulate an entire nation to dream about tomorrow as we all once did but, now, no longer do.  Nobody makes that happen the way NASA does.  So I would say I want to fully funded NASA.  Every... All the dreams we have put on its plate that, now, can't accomplish because the funding is incommensurate with the mission statement.  You fully flush out the mission statement with the money as well.  You will stoke a pipeline of engineers and scientists as never before.  Question: What space initiatives most excite you?DeGrasse Tyson:    Normally, we think of NASA as what is your mission today, where you're going.  And I think, well, I don't want to make the same mistake we made in the Apollo era where Kennedy said, "We're going to the moon."  Well, then we got to the moon.  And then, you say, okay, what's next?  And there is no other plan.  There was... will stay on the moon for... Where else we're going?  Well, no one thought about that because all of the hardware, the engineering, the science streamlined the moon as a target.  So, to do this right, what you want is not a target, what you want is an enterprise.  An enterprise is we are space fairing.  And if we're space fairing, then all these destinations are in the portfolio.  First, with robots... First, telescopically, then with robots.  And then, if necessary or if there's some value to it, we send people after the robot.  But don't include the moon, Mars, asteroids.  Some asteroids have us in their sights.  Be nice to sort of go near them and find out what they're made of, possibly tag their ears so they're always broadcasting to us their location.  In case one of their trajectories head straight for us, we'll know well in advance to do something about it.  There's a lot to do in space.  I want to learn more about the greenhouse effect on Venus, about whether there was life on Mars, about the environment in which Earth and the Sun is immersed, the behavior of the Sun.  We still can't predict the day-to-day behavior of the Sun.  We have something called space weather now, which monitors particles that stream off from the Sun.  That's a whole frontier, didn't exist a few decades ago.  We knew about it but we couldn't measure it, couldn't do anything about it.  So I see NASA as our... the extension of our senses into space.  'Cause Earth is not an island, Earth is a participant in our cosmic environment.  And the more you think... I only have to look down, the more doom you are because of the environment in which we're embedded.  You look down, all the asteroids coming behind you and you miss it.  By the way, NASA and its programs includes, now, astrobiology, astrochemistry, planetary geology.  Look at that.  In our space frontier, we have geologist, chemist, and biologist, 3 of the 4 traditional sciences all represented in the NASA portfolio.  So you're going to get all the scientists there are, that there can be coming out of school.  You're going to get the best ones... In fact, because NASA will have the coolest projects and the best students are attracted to the coolest projects.
40:44
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Since 1998, NASA's Near Earth Object Observation (NEOO) Program has led the global effort to find potentially hazardous asteroids, and has successfully found 95 percent of the potentially devastating 1 km wide near-Earth asteroids. More needs to be done; asteroid impacts and explosions from objects much smaller than 1 km, have the capability of rendering massive devastation. It will take a global effort with innovative solutions to accelerate the search for all of these potentially hazardous asteroids. Earlier this summer, NASA announced the Asteroid Grand Challenge to: Find All Asteroid Threats to Human Populations and Know What to Do About Them. Recognizing the power of traditional and innovative collaboration -- including the use of public private partnerships, citizen science, crowdsourcing, and incentive prizes, in addition to international and other cooperative partnerships -- NASA will lead a dialogue addressing how to best use these methods to aid in solving this global problem, together. Come join the conversation! Jason Kessler, NASA's Asteroid Grand Challenge Program Executive, began his professional career at NASA back in 1994. After graduating with a degree in Chemistry, Jason earned a position in NASA's Legislative office and spent the following six years in various positions at NASA, culminating with the position of Deputy Chief of Staff to the NASA Administrator. Jason's entrepreneurial spirit eventually led him back to school, earning his MBA. Several businesses later, Jason returned to NASA to join the SERVIR program office combining his private and public sector experience into one venture bringing decision-support information for climate change adaptation to those in the developing world.
02:03
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NASA's funding goes into exploration, science and aeronautics, explains Heidi Hammel. Question: How is NASA's shrinking budget affecting your work?   Heidi Hammel: Well, NASA's budget has not really been declining. It's been stable, and it's been a very, very tiny but, you know, stable fraction of our government's budget. I think that there's a lot we can do with the NASA funding now. Certainly it could be more if we had more, but we've got a lot of things going on in our country. I don't think I could advocate for increasing NASA's budget by a factor of two or ten, because I want us to have good roads in our country. I want us to have good education in our country. And NASA's budget is part of a discretionary budget, and we can't make that bigger without taking away other things. And so I try to be pragmatic about that and, you know, we just have to do with what we've got. What that does mean is that those of us who are space scientists need to be very realistic about what our expectations are. We need to be very thoughtful about how we propose to spend the money that NASA does have for space exploration. And we need to be clear that there's the human spaceflight part of NASA, and there's the science space part of NASA, and there's also aeronautics. Those are all very different things that NASA does. The space-science part of NASA, the part that's launched the Hubble Space Telescope, and put the rovers on Mars, that's about one-third of what NASA does. And it's been a really productive one-third of what NASA does. Should it be a bigger part? Should it be half? I don't know. Maybe the third is the right amount. But we need to be very thoughtful about what we propose to do and recognize we've got limited resources. We can't do everything, so be careful.     Question: How is NASA's shrinking budget affecting your work?   Heidi Hammel: Well, NASA's budget has not really been declining. It's been stable, and it's been a very, very tiny but, you know, stable fraction of our government's budget. I think that there's a lot we can do with the NASA funding now. Certainly it could be more if we had more, but we've got a lot of things going on in our country. I don't think I could advocate for increasing NASA's budget by a factor of two or ten, because I want us to have good roads in our country. I want us to have good education in our country. And NASA's budget is part of a discretionary budget, and we can't make that bigger without taking away other things. And so I try to be pragmatic about that and, you know, we just have to do with what we've got. What that does mean is that those of us who are space scientists need to be very realistic about what our expectations are. We need to be very thoughtful about how we propose to spend the money that NASA does have for space exploration. And we need to be clear that there's the human spaceflight part of NASA, and there's the science space part of NASA, and there's also aeronautics. Those are all very different things that NASA does. The space-science part of NASA, the part that's launched the Hubble Space Telescope, and put the rovers on Mars, that's about one-third of what NASA does. And it's been a really productive one-third of what NASA does. Should it be a bigger part? Should it be half? I don't know. Maybe the third is the right amount. But we need to be very thoughtful about what we propose to do and recognize we've got limited resources. We can't do everything, so be careful.
56:52
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Dr. Simon P. Worden (Brig. Gen., USAF, ret.) is the center director at NASA Ames Research Center where he leads a staff of nearly 2500 civil servants and contractors and oversees an annual budget of approx. $800 million providing the critical R&D support that makes NASA's and the nation's aeronautics and space missions possible. Worden has completely transformed Ames, reinvigorating the center's workforce and taking a leadership role in important, cost-effective small satellite missions. Worden has also put Ames on the critical path for all major NASA space exploration missions through effective use of the center's unique wind tunnels, arc jets, intelligent systems and supercomputer facilities and capabilities. Worden's 'GreenSpace' initiative has brought Ames remote sensing capabilities to bear on air traffic safety, fighting forest fires, and the study of climate change. And Ames' new Sustainability Base facility will serve as a model for future eco-friendly, high-performance federal buildings. Worden was named the Federal laboratory Consortium's Laboratory Director the Year for 2009
55:44
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Calling technical support is always a frustrating experience. Imagine how much more frustrating it would be if the other party answered each question you asked with ever increasing delay. During a future NASA mission to Mars, this is exactly what will happen when astronauts call Mission Control ... and the delays grow up to 40 minutes! In this talk, I will describe the business of human spaceflight mission operations, and how time delay impacts these operations. I will then give an overview of NASA's Autonomous Mission Operations (AMO) project, which is investigating how to mitigate the impact of time delay on operations. Doing so requires a combination of operations protocols (for instance, who is allowed to make an ""interplanetary tech support call"") and technologies. Many of these technologies are familiar to us Earthlings (Web browsers, calendars, and chat tools) while others are less so (diagnostics tools, displays for procedures, and automation). Dr. Jeremy Frank is Group Lead of the NASA Ames Planning and Scheduling Group, which designs and builds space mission operations tools. Dr. Frank has an MS and a PhD in Computer Science from the University of California (Davis). He also has a BA in Mathematics from Pomona College. Dr. Frank is the Principal Investigator of the Autonomous Mission Operations (AMO) Project, a NASA Advanced Exploration Systems Program project that develops advanced technology prototypes for mission operations in the presence of large time delays. He has received over twenty NASA awards, including a Silver Snoopy (the Astronaut's Personal Award).
55:24
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Google Tech Talk March 12, 2013 NASA: The Exploration Ground Data System (xGDS). Reusable Software Tools for Human and Robotic Missions Presented by Matt Deans, Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA Ames ABSTRACT Did you know that NASA uses Google Earth for mission planning and real-time mission operations? Are you curious about the software NASA is developing to carry out future human and robot missions? Would you like to know how modern Web frameworks can be used for data-driven field science? The Exploration Ground Data System (xGDS) is a suite of reusable software tools for human and robotic missions. xGDS supports mission planning, ingesting and managing geo-referenced and time-series data, and visualization/analysis. xGDS is highly modular, Web-based and makes extensive use of Apache, Django, the Google Earth plug-in, JQuery, and MySQL. In this talk, I will discuss the use cases that xGDS was designed to support and describe how it is implemented. I will show how the Intelligent Robotics Group has used xGDS for exploration missions involving astronauts (Arizona), planetary rovers (Canada and Hawaii), and personal submarines (British Columbia and Florida). And, I'll briefly talk about how xGDS can be used for other applications, such as crisis and disaster response.
50:03
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Google Tech Talk April 9, 2009 ABSTRACT "Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of NASA: The Giants on Whose Shoulders We Stood" Why explore? Among the many reasons, we explore because it fuels a useful scientific and technological foundation that enables a flourishing economy. Taking humans to the edge of their known world both requires new technology, and returns radical new insights into the world. Without exploration, science and engineering became routine and uninteresting. The NASA Ames Research Center, which is nearly 70 years old, has contributed scientific and engineering expertise to the exploration missions at the heart of NASA over its 50 year history. Ames has made major contributions to the manned and unmanned space programs, including Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, the Space Shuttle, aeronautics, lunar science, planetary exploration, Mars, and the prospects of life in the universe. Ames' most significant contribution to science and technology, though, has been in developing the careers of masterful researchers. This presentation will emphasize the aerospace giants who fundamentally shaped the history of NASA Ames. Presented by John W. Boyd: John W. Boyd serves as Senior Advisor to the Center Director, the Senior Advisor for History and the Center Ombuds. Jack maintains his Virginia lilt. He is a graduate of George Washington High School in Danville, Virginia; of the aeronautical engineering program at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech); and the Sloan executive master of business administration program at Stanford University. Jack started at Ames in 1947, when it was the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory and still part of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). He first worked in Building N207, elbow to elbow with some of the greatest aerodynamicists of his generation. His own work as an aeronautical research engineer involved wind tunnel studies of supersonic and subsonic aircraft and included major contributions to theories of conical camber. He later did early research on the design of unpiloted planetary probes to explore Mars and Venus, and he helped develop early configurations for the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules. Beginning in the mid-1960s, Jack increasingly served in managerial positions at NASA Ames. He served as Executive Assistant to the Ames Center Director, Deputy Director of Dryden Flight Research Center, Deputy and Associate Director of Ames Research Center and Associate Administrator for Management at NASA Headquarters. Additionally, he has served as Chancellor for Research for the University of Texas System. He has also been an adjunct professor at the University of Texas (Austin, El Paso, and Pan American campuses), teaching courses in aerodynamics, introductions to engineering, and the history of spaceflight. He is also a member of the Hertz Foundation Board of Directors founded by Dr. Edward Teller. Jack has earned many awards, including the Stanford Sloan Fellowship, the NASA Exceptional Service Award, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Award, the NASA Equal Employment Opportunity Medal, the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the Army Command Medal and the NASA Headquarters History Award. He is also a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). Following his eight years in the University of Texas System, Jack returned to Ames to establish its Aerospace Encounter, an educational program for middle school students. In 2003 Jack retired from the Ames Director's Office to two full-time jobs, both of which are essentially educational in nature. As Center Ombuds, Jack hears privately about problems and tries to illuminate how the problem can be solved within the Ames culture. As Senior Advisor for History, he continues to lecture frequently about the culture of Ames and how its leadership has evolved to fit the needs of the time. In addition, he has his own research and writing projects and ensures that the work of the Ames History Office continues to explore how the Center's past is relevant to its future. He returned to the Director's Office as Senior Advisor in February 2006. Jack is married to Winifred G. Boyd, and has five children and nine grandchildren. The Silicon Valley History Series is hosted by Boris Debic