Monthly Archives: March 2011

NASA Tweetup: Rocket Star @Astro_Wheels

After seeing Doug Wheelock in action this week in Washington DC, I’d like to give him a new title: Space Ambassador! Doug, aka @Astro_Wheels, shared heartfelt stories of his time in space during our latest NASA Tweetup, March 16, 2011.

@Astro_Wheels Living the Dream

Doug and Tracy Caldwell Dyson came to DC to debrief NASA employees on their Space Station Expedition missions, visit with Members of Congress and Hill staffers, and talk with space tweeps. We haven’t convinced Tracy about tweeting yet, but we might just wear her down after all — now that Doug is a fervent social media convert.

Astronauts Tracy Caldwell Dyson & Doug Wheelock

Astronauts Tracy Caldwell Dyson & Doug Wheelock at Capitol Visitor Center.

Doug joined an auditorium-full of space tweeps at the NASA tweetup. He shared stories and answered questions for several hours. Then he stayed to sign autographs and pose for pictures until the last tweep left the building. Wow. What a guy!

Tweetup Crowd Surrounds Astro_Wheels

Space Tweeps Surrounds Astro_Wheels

Tweetup Line for Astro_Wheels autograph

Doug gave them reason to stand in a long line for one-on-one time. During the Tweetup, he shared his awe and wonder about the vastness of space and the beauty of our home planet. He said that if he’d lived on another planet in the universe, Earth would have been the place he would most want to travel to.

Astro_Wheels describes Earth's ColorIn order to share his experience with those of us who will never leave this planet, he asked Mission Control for a camera lens and setting that most mimics what the human eye can see — so that he could let us see space through his eyes.  But, he told us, no photo does the Cupola views any justice. The broad brush strokes of auroras captivated his attention, and many photos as well. I’m obsessed with auroras, so I’m glad he shared so many with us.

@Astro_Wheels describes Auroras

@Astro_Wheels describes Earth@Astro_Wheels describes EarthWe learned details about life in space, like the violent ride to space on the Space Shuttle and the explosive return from space inside a Russian Soyuz. He described the smells of space: a musty odor like a wine cellar in the Russian modules, sterile computer-fan smell of the U.S. modules, and the burnt match smell of space that lingers on spacesuits for days. When asked how he felt after coming back to a gravity-filled life, he said he felt it most in his neck — from having to hold his head up.

@Astro_Wheels describes space smell

@Astro_Wheels describes Soyuz landing

@Astro_Wheels describes sore neckThings break on Station, making life “interesting” off planet. Tracy told NASA employees earlier in the day that residents of Space Station don’t have the luxury of zipping over to Home Depot for supplies. Doug recounted the experience on July 31st when the Space Station ammonia pump shut down, and life slowly drained from the orbiting spacecraft. Working closely with Mission Control on a fix, Doug and Tracy saved Station through a series of unplanned space walks. Space walks are are extremely physically challenging. Even though everything floats in space, Newton’s Laws of Motion still apply. Doug told us the hardest part of working is space is learning to maneuver with a light touch, rather than a push.

@Astro_Wheels describes ammonia pump repair

@Astro_Wheels describes ammonia leakDoug told us how his dreams changed using social media. Twitter allowed him to enter into a global conversation about space. Though he can’t take us all with him to space, social media tools allow him to bring us along for the virtual ride.

@Astro_Wheels describes hugeness of space

Describing Space, Astro_Wheels is speechless

Doug encouraged all of us to nurture the dreams of our children. They are our future, after all.

@Astro_Wheels talking to a future Mars-onaut at the NASA tweetup

@Astro_Wheels talking to a future Mars-onaut at the NASA tweetup

Thanks Doug for caring enough to share your amazing experiences in space. You ROCKet!

Tweet stats from @astro_wheels tweetupLast thought: who thinks the Space Station Expedition patch looks like Darth Vader’s helmet? ;)

Expedition 24 Mission Patch

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Filed under Earth, NASA, OpenNASA, social media

Space Wonder from Earthling Eyes

French photographer Thierry Legault takes some amazing photographs of our spacecraft. See what I mean?

STS-133 Space Shuttle Discovery approaching Space Station to dock. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

STS-133 Space Shuttle Discovery approaching Space Station to dock. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

STS-133 Spacewalk as seen from Earth. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

STS-133 Spacewalk as seen from Earth. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

Goosebumps!

You are looking at images of Space Shuttle Discovery’s final mission to Space Station. Soak in the significance of these images. We are closing out the final chapter in our nation’s Space Shuttle program. (But you already knew that, right?) So cool that we have photographers like Thierry out there caring enough to record this journey for us.

Let me share the back story of our NASA relationship with Thierry.

It all began back in September 2006, when Space Shuttle Atlantis launched to orbit for STS-115, a 11 day-19 hour-6 minute mission to Space Station and back. Thierry captured this image.

STS-115 Atlantis & Station in front of the sun. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

STS-115 Atlantis & Station in front of the sun. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

Note: Space Station had a totally different shape then. We were only six years into the decade-long construction project.

I saw this picture in a magazine and tracked Thierry down through his photography service in France. On April 24, 2007, I wrote him this email:

Thierry,
Your image of Station and Shuttle in front of the sun is absolutely FABULOUS! May we have permission to use the photo with our NASA exhibits?  We would give you credit, of course! Your image is the most striking I’ve ever seen, and the fact that the Shuttle and Station are in the same shot from Earth is incredible. The general public has trouble getting excited about Station because we’ve built it in orbit. They’ve never seen it, except in our images from space. Your image allows them to touch space from home.

He contacted me almost immediately and agreed to let us use his photo. We were thrilled! For me, the story this image tells is that humans (and the things we create) are SO tiny against the awesome backdrop of the universe we live in. Wow! Plus, we can allow folks at home a glimpse of of the incredible engineering marvel we’re building UP IN SPACE.

Fast forward to August 2008, we received an email from Thierry that he was interested in taking pics of his beloved Atlantis during the STS-125 Hubble servicing mission. The only problem was, Hubble orbits 35o miles over Earth. Space Station orbits 220 miles overhead. He couldn’t afford the special lens required to capture the image – an additional 130 miles UP in the sky. He wanted to know if we had one, or were willing to buy one, so that he could record such an historic event — the final Space Shuttle repair mission to Hubble.

Intrigued, we did a bit of research to see if we had any NASA camera equipment that met the specs. Nope. Our next option was to look into purchasing the lens, but we needed to find other uses of the equipment after Thierry borrowed it for the mission. NASA photographer, Bill Ingalls, raised his hand (or more accurately, jumped up and down with glee) at the opportunity to get his hands on the lens. Done. (And, just so you know, the price of the lens dropped significantly by the time we purchased it. We snagged a great lens at a great price.)

Thierry traveled from France to Florida for the STS-125 mission. Our own excellent Bill took Thierry along with him for all his official duties, giving Thierry access to the best NASA locations to photograph the mission.

What did we get out of the deal? Incredible images of Space Shuttle Atlantis and Hubble in front of the Sun, that’s what!

STS-125 Atlantis and Hubble Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault

STS-125 Atlantis and Hubble Solar Transit

The images went viral. Newspapers, websites, blogs, tweets around the world gushed about Thierry’s images of our spacecraft. What’s not to love?

STS-125 Atlantis and Hubble Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault.

STS-125 Atlantis and Hubble Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault.

STS-125 Atlantis Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault.

STS-125 Atlantis Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault.

STS-125 Atlantis Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault.

STS-125 Atlantis Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault.

STS-125 Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault.

STS-125 Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault.

STS-125 Atlantis Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault.

STS-125 Atlantis Solar Transit. Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault.

Thank you Thierry for sharing your photos (and your amazing talent) with us. You’ve perfectly captured the drama and awe and wonder of space.

What an out-of-this-world sight!

Hot off the presses (or email): After posting this morning, Thierry sent me more images to share with you. How many times can I say WOW!!! Simply breathtaking!

Space Station during Lunar Eclipse 12/20/2010. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

Space Station during Lunar Eclipse 12/20/2010. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

STS-132 Space Shuttle Atlantis docking with Space Station 05/16/2010. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

STS-132 Space Shuttle Atlantis docking with Space Station 05/16/2010. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

STS-132 Space Shuttle Atlantis docked to Station 05/22/2010. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

STS-132 Space Shuttle Atlantis docked to Station 05/22/2010. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

Space Station during Solar Eclipse 01/04/2011. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

Space Station during Solar Eclipse 01/04/2011. Permission granted by Thierry Legault.

Thierry, keep ‘em coming!

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Filed under Earth, NASA, space, technology

Tips for Anthony Rotolo’s Students

Professor Anthony Rotolo asked me to skype with his social media class. They want to talk about how students can be effective out in the workforce through the use of social media. I’m not sure social media will be the coolest, hippest thing around town by the time they get established in new jobs. It might be. Or the next coolest thing might be what they offer to their new employers.

So instead, I offer a few tips on how to affect change in organizations, which I think is the real question.

Get to know your new organization’s culture.

Ask questions:

  • What do you want to see changed?
  • What does change look like?
  • What does success look like?
  • What stands in your way?

Sometimes knowledge stands between status quo and success. Sometimes technology stands in the gap. Most of the time, culture creates the divide.

Explore your organization to understand its culture:

  • Status quo.
  • Incremental change.
  • Innovation.
  • Some combination of the above.

Your recommendations should reflect the organization’s ability to receive them.

For instance, if the organization is conservative and status quo-oriented, your eagerness to offer change may overwhelm them, causing the organization to shut down the conversation, or worse, shut you out and keep talking with other like-minded folks.

Your goal should be to keep the conversation alive, and to expose them to small doses of change at a time, if that’s all they can absorb.

Always give options:

  • Option 1: looks and feels familiar.
  • Option 2: feels like home but offers new capabilities.
  • Option 3: new look and feel.

Let the organization pick and choose among the options to craft what makes them happy.

Always offer something uncomfortable. If you offer a range from 1-3, the most they can stretch to is #3. If you offer #1-10, #10 may seem so outrageous that they actually pick #6 because it feels so much safer than #10.  But they’ve moved twice as far as they would have had the options been safer.

And now, we can talk specifically about social media. Fire away with questions.

:)

Update:

Maren Gause from Professor Rotolo’s class posted this blog after class: Social Media in SPAAAACE.

Professor Rotolo’s Blog: @Rotolo Blog: Galactic Guest Appearance

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Filed under culture, federal government, innovation, NASA, social media