Category Archives: space

St. Paddy’s Day: Green Space!

Even though the DC region is covered in white, here are a few “green” space images to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Enjoy!

Space Station Expedition 37: French Polynesia

Space Station Expedition 37: French Polynesia

Earth's surface from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica. Credit: NASA/Robert Schwarz

Earth’s surface from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica. Credit: NASA/Robert Schwarz

Space Station Expedition 34: Northern Lights

Space Station Expedition 34: Northern Lights

Space Station Expedition 37: Aurora Australis

Space Station Expedition 37: Aurora Australis

Expedition 38: Night view inside Space Station

Expedition 38: Night view inside Space Station

Hubble image of supernova.

Hubble image of supernova

Hubble Reveals the Ring Nebula's True Shape

Hubble Reveals the Ring Nebula’s True Shape

Planetary Nebula MyCn18: An Hourglass Pattern Around a Dying Star

Planetary Nebula MyCn18: An Hourglass Pattern Around a Dying Star

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Spacebot Invasion

My Robot 2012 Calendar came equipped with Fold-Your-Own 3-D paper punch-out robots. As I close out this year, I decided to try putting one together. After one, I was hooked. I punched, folded, and glued my way through the week of Christmas. Normally, I wouldn’t take the time to make paper dolls, but who can resist these cute little robots? I truly enjoyed bringing them to life.

Meet the spacebots. Each is unique and has a story to tell.

Radiacto's radiation gauge looks off the chart.

Radiacto’s radiation gauge looks off the chart. Best to wear lead.

Retro Attack dares invaders to touch down on our Blue Planet.

Retro Attack dares invaders to touch down on our Blue Planet. She’s on guard 24-7.

Cyclops is a Universal Guardian

Cyclops is a Universal Guardian keeping an eye on humanity.

I-Spin 3000's Mood Meter monitors human happiness.

I-Spin 3000′s Mood Meter monitors human happiness. Smiling makes her meter spin.

Tock-A-Tron is a time traveler.

Tock-A-Tron is a time traveler. He rolls between the space-time continuum

Don't Panic is an Earth monitor.

Don’t Panic is an Earth monitor. She’s here to keep humanity safe.

Jackpot thinks our Blue Planet in right on the money!

Jackpot thinks our Blue Planet in right on the money!

Raid Invader was once a galactic warrior.

Raid Invader was once a galactic warrior, but after a short vacation on Earth, he quit his job. He opted for a Blue Planet retirement.

Galaxy Ranger travels planet to planet.

Galaxy Ranger travels planet to planet. Earth is his fav stopover.

Heartbreaker has a heart for Earthlings.

Heartbreaker has a heart for Earthlings. She’s a planetary caretaker.

Tank-Tronic keeps the planet safe from enemy invaders.

Tank-Tronic keeps the planet safe from enemy invaders.

Drill Bit is a Planetary Archeologist.

Drill Bit is a Planetary Archeologist. Don’t forget the drilling permits!

Spacebots are hanging out in my library

Spacebots are hanging out in my library, trying to learn about humans.

Spacebots enjoyed their first Blue Planet Christmas.

Spacebots enjoyed their first Blue Planet Christmas.

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5th Dimension: Imagination Space

There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone—Rod Serling

Star Trek: Borg spacecraft

Star Trek: Borg Cube

In physics, the fifth dimension exists outside the space-time continuum, which is the three-dimensional space (up-down, backward-forward, right-left) plus the fourth dimension of time. I’ll stick with Rod Serling’s version of the fifth dimension as the space where imagination lives.

Looking at the fifth dimension from a math point of view, five-dimensional geometry features a 5-cube, part of the hypercube family (which makes me think of the Star Trek Borg connection.) Look at the series of geometric figures below, each generated from a 5-cube. What do you see? I see a visual representation of the 5th Dimension Imagination Space — a constellation of ideas and solutions that can be generated from 5 points of reference.

5-Cube

Idea generation (or…31 uniform polytera generated from 5-cube)

So how can we harness the 5th Dimension Imagination Space?

That question drives my PhD dissertation research on the topic of Social Intrapreneurship — individuals from the 5th Dimension who leverage the mission and capabilities of their organizations to provide social good. I’m looking at the characteristics  and skills of change-makers, their idea generation/implementation process, and the organizations capacity to allow entrepreneurial activities to exist and flourish. I’m specifically interested in the disruptive thinking process that can shift the status quo and bring about social change.

Here are a few tidbits of wisdom from three books I’ve read recently.

1. “Change By Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation,” by Tim Brown.

Tim Brown, CEO and President of IDEO offers three dimensions to define the creation space:

  1. inspiration space, where insights are harvested;
  2. ideation space, where insights become ideas; and
  3. implementation space, where action plans are created from the best ideas (p. 64).

He divides the creation process into “four mental states” — divergent and convergent thinking, followed by analysis and synthesis (p. 66-70). Divergent thinking is all about creating choices, where convergent thinking leads to making choices (p. 82). The process of brainstorming is a “structured way of breaking out of structure (p. 78).”

 “Every design process cycles through foggy periods of seemingly unstructured experimentation and bursts of intense clarity, periods of grappling with the Big Idea and long stretches during which all attention focuses on the details.” — Tim Brown

My favorite part of the book was his story about working on a kid’s product for NIKE (our LAUNCH.org partner). They asked a group of kids, aged eight to ten, to come up with a product ideas — then divided the girls from the boys. The girls came up with over 200 ideas by leap-frogging each other’s ideas. The boys compiled 50 ideas. Hmmm. Why, you may ask. The author explains that the boys were so busy trying to sell their own ideas that they paid little attention to anyone else’s ideas (p. 79).

2. “How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas,” by David Bornstein

Bornstein explores what makes a social entrepreneur and looks for ways to identify them before they become well known. “Social entrepreneurs rarely announce themselves when they walk in the door.” He points out Ashoka’s criteria — vision, determination, and ethics (p. 120-201). He points to the difference between having an idea and being able to implement it (p. 123).

“What fascinates me most about the social entrepreneurs, at a personal level, is the way they hold to an internal vision no matter how many disruptive forces surround them. Somehow they find ways to construct meanings for themselves and hold to those meanings. On a daily basis, they manage to align their interests, abilities, beliefs, while acting to produce changes that accord with their deepest convictions (p. 288).” — David Bornstein

Bornstein identifies six qualities to look for in social entrepreneurs:

  1. willingness to self-correct,
  2. willingness to share credit,
  3. willingness to break free of established structures,
  4. willingness to cross disciplinary boundaries,
  5. willingness to work quietly, and
  6. strong ethical impetus (p. 238-46).

3. “The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets that Change the World” by John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan

“Being unreasonable is not just a state of mind. It is also a process by which older, outdated forms of reasoning are jettisoned and new ones conceived and evolved (p. 1).” — Elkington and Hartigan

The authors investigated the roots of unreason in successful social entrepreneurs to determine how their bring about change. From the outside, these individuals seek “outlandish goals” by attacking intractable problems. They force others to “look beyond the edge of what is possible.” The authors wanted to understand how they approach value creation, as well as common models of leadership and business.

Social entrepreneurs are in demand from global corporations who are looking for “market intelligence” since entrepreneurs serve as “sensitive barometers for detecting market risk and opportunities (p. 2).” What sets social entrepreneurs apart from their business entrepreneur counterparts is their sense of the long-term solutions to problem, rather than short term gain from selling the idea.

How do we populate the 5th Dimension Imagination Space with divergent, disruptive thinkers, who have the freedom to create the maximum number of choices for optimum implementation?

I’ll let you know when I finish my dissertation. And, I hope I don’t find myself somewhere out in the Twilight Zone. ;)

Twilight Zone

Rod Serling: Twilight Zone

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LAUNCH: Innovation Super Bowl

“Your heart, not your knowledge or skill, is your qualification for leadership.”

A guest pastor at DC Metro church last weekend made this statement above. As I listen to the LAUNCH: Beyond Waste innovators share their passion for making the world a better place, I keep thinking the heart is what draws us together for the common goal of solving the intransigent problems facing humanity — like water, health, energy, and now waste.

After our first day of prep session with the innovators, I’m renewed with hope for what we can do collectively, if we join together with single purpose. Each of us on the LAUNCH team speaks the same passion language for a sustainable existence (both on and OFF this planet).

The LAUNCH forum is our Innovation Super Bowl.

We work for months to source and gather the right mix of expertise, experience, and influence for the LAUNCH Council and a balanced set of innovations to tackle complex issues. Once we get to this point in the process, we recharge off the collective genius of the minds gathered together for the forum.

Here are a few snapshots from Pasadena so far.

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LAUNCH: Collective Genius for Better World!

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LAUNCH: Time to Stop Wasting

I’m flying high today. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy website hosted our LAUNCH: Beyond Waste blogpost authored by LAUNCH: Water Innovator and Astronaut Ron Garan: LAUNCHing Ideas for a Waste-less Tomorrow.

We’ve been refining LAUNCH over the last few years. This will be our fourth sustainability innovation forum. We’ve hosted LAUNCH: Water, LAUNCH: Health, and most recently, LAUNCH: Energy — all at the Kennedy Space Center. Now we’re moving from the east coast to the west coast. We’ll gather 35-ish thought leaders to hear and discuss ten game-changing solutions to the problem of waste at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory this July.

Waste is a huge issue for humans living on the planet, as well as those who live beyond the borders of Earth. In the developed world, we live in a throw-away society. We use a product (and sadly people, sometimes) and toss it when the newest model comes along. In the developing world, citizens take discarded objects, and give them new life. My daughter bought this soda can art from a market in South Africa.

South African Art: Plane from Recycled Fanta Can

South African Art: Plane from Recycled Fanta Can

To travel in space long distances, humans must take what they need for the journey. At $10,000/lb, we need to think long and hard about the essentials we send off the planet in our rocket-propelled biospheres.

We need creative minds to help think about designing a future with zero waste, and re-think waste in creative new ways to add redundant value.

LAUNCH: Beyond Waste is accepting proposals until May 15th. Be the change we need for a better tomorrow. Apply now at  http://challenge.launch.org.

Stop wasting time! It’s time to stop wasting.  

Let’s create a future with zero waste. I’ll leave you with a little Steve Miller Band….

Time Keeps on Slipping: Steve Miller Band

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2011: My Top 10 iPhone Travel Fotos

In days gone by, I never left home without my camera bag stocked with film and lenses. With an iPhone, I travel so much lighter. I’m totally hooked on the hipstamatic app, which allows me to create a funky style without a darkroom or chemicals. With a simple shake of my iPhone, I can change camera lenses and film, though my favorite is the Hipstamatic John S lens and Kodot XGrizzled film.

Here are a few shots from my 2011 travels to the Space Tweetups in Germany and Italy, and the NASA tweetups at the Kennedy Space Center. The final two are from Washington DC, where I work and play. Enjoy!

Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany

Space Tweetup: German Space Day train

Space Tweetup: German Space Day train

Frankfort Airport

Frankfort Airport

Roma Colosseo

Roma Colosseo

Rome: Santa Maria Maggiore

Rome: Santa Maria Maggiore

ESA/ESRIN facility in Frascati, Italy

ESA/ESRIN facility in Frascati, Italy

Cocoa Beach Sand Castles

Cocoa Beach Sand Castles

Space Coast Space Melons

Space Coast Space Melons

White House

White House

Washington Monument

Taxi window view of Washington Monument

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2011 My Space: Top 10 Off-Planet Pics

View from Space Station: 16 Moonrises Each Day. Photo by Astronaut Ron Garan

View from Space Station: 16 Moonrises Each Day. Photo by Astronaut Ron Garan.

STS-134 Endeavour docked to Space Station

STS-134 Endeavour docked to Space Station.

Astronauts Mike Fincke reflected in Greg Chamitoff's visor. Final spacewalk by Space Shuttle crew.

Astronauts Mike Fincke reflected in Greg Chamitoff's visor. Final spacewalk by Space Shuttle crew.

STS-134 Space Shuttle Endeavor docked to Space Station: Photo by ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli

STS-134 Space Shuttle Endeavor docked to Space Station: Photo by ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli

Mosaic of 48 Saturn images from the Cassini spacecraft

Mosaic of 48 Saturn images from the Cassini spacecraft.

STS-135 final mission to Space Station with US flag flown on STS-1.

STS-135 final mission to Space Station with US flag flown on STS-1.

Atlantis docked to Space Station

STS-135 Atlantis docked to Space Station.

STS-135 Space Shuttle Atlantis leaving Space Station. Photo by Expediton 28 crew.

STS-135 Space Shuttle Atlantis leaving Space Station. Photo by Expediton 28 crew.

NASA's Spitzer space telescope shows "stellar nursery" around Orion's sword.

NASA's Spitzer space telescope shows "stellar nursery" around Orion's sword.

Comet Lovejoy: Photo by Space Station Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank.

Comet Lovejoy: Photo by Space Station Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank.

TOO many images to choose from — which is a good thing. I hope these give you a flavor for space.

A special 2011 space thanks to Expedition 27/28 Astronaut Ron Garan for your visionary leadership for Fragile Oasis. Your willingness to share  your Space Station experience made space seem closer for those of us who are gravity-challenged. Elyse David, you are amazing. Thanks for keeping Fragile Oasis going 24/7. Donna Connell, you juggled all our requirements for LAUNCH and Fragile Oasis, and ensured we were totally covered contractually. You ROCKet! Ben Slavin, you’re my hero. I’m so glad you’re on the team. We wouldn’t have made it through the year without you.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to host several tweetups at our last Space Shuttle launches. I gained so many new friendships with space tweeps from around the world. I will treasure my time with the ESA/DLR colleagues at the two Space Tweetups across the ocean. Getting to know ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti was a highlight for 2011. I look forward to the time when she’s telling her stories from space.

Though we’ve closed out the Space Shuttle program, we continue to support a crew of six humans onboard Space Station 240 miles overhead, orbiting Earth every 91 minutes at a speed of 17,500 miles per hour. We have much work ahead in 2012. I’m eager to get started.

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LAUNCH:Energy Super-Charged!

Sparks fly when innovative thinkers join together to address critical issues — like solving the world’s sustainability problems. LAUNCH gives us a unique opportunity to expand the Fellowship of Innovation with  ten new LAUNCH innovators, several dozen new LAUNCH Council Members, and new members of the LAUNCH team. What a privilege to recharge my creative batteries in this unique creative power source.

LAUNCH: Energy view of Vehicle Assembly Building

LAUNCH: Energy. Space Shuttle Endeavour waits for us over at the VAB.

It was only one week ago when NASA hosted LAUNCH: Energy at the Kennedy Space Center. Quick summary: ten innovators presented TED-like presentations to thought leaders in their various disciplines. Presentations are followed by high impact round table discussions with each innovator to probe, question, and evaluate the potential of each innovation.

LAUNCH: Energy is our third sustainability forum, following LAUNCH: Water and LAUNCH: Health. This was our first without a Space Shuttle launch to plan around. We’ve never hosted an event at the Kennedy Space Center during a holiday weekend. A government facility on a long weekend feels like a ghost town — eerily deserted. On the flip side, we had the place to ourselves. We FINally snagged the Mission Management Team meeting room, which was always our first choice. Planning events during Space Shuttle launches means prime real estate is already spoken for, and rightly so.

Press site

The press site looks so empty without a Space Shuttle launch.

We were fortunate to tour the Vehicle Assembly Building where post-retirement Space Shuttle Endeavour takes shelter. I have to admit, seeing her without her eyes, nose, and engines made me heartsick. How strange to stare in the face of history.

Space Shuttle Endeavour in her twilight years.

Space Shuttle Endeavour in her twilight years.

Many ask us: Why LAUNCH?

LAUNCH is our opportunity to problem-solve for an entire weekend with a group of innovative thinkers who care deeply about saving the world — social entrepreneurship at its best. As a bonus, we hopefully infect participants with our “Yes We Can” space virus that they, in turn, spread to their colleagues, friends and families.

Personally, LAUNCH is an intellectual treat. Brain candy!

LAUNCH is all about three things for NASA:

  1. sharing the sustainability story of how life off this planet mirrors Earth — we have no natural resources in space which forces us to generate, collect, store, conserve, recycle, and manage our resources wisely — just like Earth but more extreme;
  2. offering our problem-solving expertise and convening power of the NASA brand to host a crucial conversation with innovative problem solvers from around the world, and
  3. promoting the emergence of transformative technology to solve problems that we share as global citizens of this planet, which may also address issues of long-duration life in the extremes of space.
Inspirational setting for LAUNCH:Energy

Can you think of a more "problem-solving" setting?

Fellowship of Innovation

The ten innovators, who are now part of our innovation fellowship (and FAMILY) offer a variety of solutions to address energy sustainability challenges. The innovations include an economical fuel cell that can be recharged in a cooking fire, a thin flexible electrochromic film that can be applied to windows or surfaces to manage energy use, a low temperature heat activated fluid motion pump, a hydrokinetic turbine, a 96% efficient wood combustion cookstove process, a thermal energy battery for economical refrigeration in remote locations, a next generation fast-charging, long-lasting ultracapacitor battery, an integrated smart microgrid, a lightweight energy management system, and a solar-powered lantern/charger.

Solantern light, charging station, and solar charger.

Solantern light, charging station, and solar charger.

Social Entrepreneurship

At its essence, LAUNCH is an enterprise grounded in social entrepreneurship — the effort to target large-scale transformational outcomes to make life better for a segment of the underserved populations on our planet.

Side Note: Social entrepreneurship is near and dear to my heart and the topic of my PhD research. Thanks to two separate bus rides from Kennedy Space Center back to our hotel in Orlando, I refined my research proposal — which was due immediately following LAUNCH: Energy. Council members Carrie Freeman of Intel and James Parr, formerly of IDEO and founder of Imaginals, introduced me to new concepts and potential research paths. I came home and rewrote my proposal.

LAUNCH is the innovation soup we create by pulling together just the right ingredients and turning up the heat — like a long bus ride at the end of a long day.

Hatching new ideas on ride to and from Kennedy Space Center

Hatching new ideas on ride to and from Kennedy Space Center.

Accelerator

And now, the real work begins. The Accelerator process, the next phase, is the critical follow-through leg of the LAUNCH journey, where our LAUNCH team 1) walks the Innovators through recommendations and insights shared by the Council, 2) refines and crafts a forward strategy, and 3) helps make connections necessary to solidify future support for each innovation. This process can last from four-six months, depending on the wishes of the innovator and the maturity of the innovation.

Thanks to all the LAUNCH team for all the long hours in planning, preparation, and execution. Thanks to all the Council Members for giving so generously of your time. Thanks especially to all our LAUNCH Innovators for caring enough about the future of our human race to create transformative solutions. You guys ROCKet!!

To borrow from Innovator Frank Wang, “Let’s get super-charged. BOOM!”

LAUNCH Innovator Frank Wang, "Boom! Super-charged!!"

LAUNCH Innovator Frank Wang, "Boom! Super-charged!!"

Resources:

LAUNCH:Energy Flickr photos by LAUNCH team member Dennis Bonilla.

LAUNCH:Energy photos by LAUNCH Council Member Michael Catalano.

Forum Concludes with LAUNCH of New Ideas to Generage, Store and Distribute Energy by LAUNCH Council and team member Rebecca Taylor

LAUNCH: Energy Forum — An Update from Mission Control  by Department of State team member Vy Manthripragada.

LAUNCH: Energy Forum — Fueling Ideas, Propelling Innovation by Department of State team member Vy Manthripragada.

LAUNCHing an Energized Future by LAUNCH team member Lena Delchad.

Collective Genius for a Better World by NASA’s Open Gov team member Ali Llewellyn.

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SpaceTweetup: #Awesome

I keep trying to post my thoughts and photos about the first-ever European tweetup in Cologne, Germany and a smaller tweetup with @Astro_Paolo Nespoli, @Astro_Cady Coleman, and  @AstroSamantha Cristoforetti at the ESA/ESRIN facility in Frascati, Italy. Way too many great conversations and experiences to slow down and write. Now that I’m back home in DC, I have no more excuses.

One word sums up the week: AWESOME!

SpaceTweetup stage

SpaceTweetup stage. Cologne, Germany

Just so you know, I was informed by my European tweeps that they were making a bit of fun at our American enthusiasm by using the word awesome. As it turned out, awesome became the catch-word of the event — with it’s own hashtag. I think enthusiasm is actually contagious, if given the proper petri dish. Right @twISSt? ;)

Kudos to Marco Trovatello and Henning Krause of the Germany Space Agency DLR and Fulvio DriganiErica Rolfe, Daniel Scuka, Andreas Schepers of the European Space Agency ESA. You guys ROCKet!

Here are some highlights of the Space Day Tweetup in Cologne:

Enthusiast tweeps waiting to board the bus.

Enthusiast tweeps waiting to board the bus.

Cat herder ESA's Erica Rolfe

ESA's FABulous tweep-herder @EricaRolfe

ESA/DLR SpaceTweetup Welcome

ESA/DLR SpaceTweetup Welcome by Marco, Andreas, and Fulvio.

ESA's @DanielScuka is tweeting for @ESAoperations.

ESA's @DanielScuka tweeting for @ESAoperations.

We headed out to the tarmac to see the A380, the largest passenger airliner in the world, and Sofia aircraft, or Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. We got a glimpse of the German version of Air Force One for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (What is it with wet tweetups lately? Did Stephanie Schierholz and I bring the STS-135 rain with us?)

German version of the Air Force 1

German version of the Air Force 1

Sofia telescope

Sofia telescope

We headed back to the tweetup tent to meet the Expedition 26-27 and STS-134 astronauts. One problem, we separated from the group somehow. Here are my LostMates!

Lost with me on the grounds of German Space Day: @SpaceMike @Timmermansr @JohnnyMojo

Lost with me on the grounds of German Space Day: @SpaceMike @Timmermansr @JohnnieMojo

This little train came by to give us a lift.

This little train came by to give us a lift. Well, not exactly...

This little magic train appeared. I thought maybe it would lead us back to basecamp, but no dice. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure how we found our way back to the tweetup tent. Perhaps it was the huge inflatable astronaut that guided us home. (Or the smell of coffee and pastries back in the TWent!)

Large inflatable Spacewalker at German Space Day

Large inflatable Spacewalker at German Space Day

SpaceTweetup Coffee Bar

SpaceTweetup Coffee Bar

Before starting the program again, we assembled at the stage for a group photo. Just then, @Astro_Paolo appeared in the tent, followed by @Astro_Cady, @Astro_Box, @AstroIronMike, @Astro_Taz, and Drew Feustel. One by one, they plopped down in the middle of the chaos to pose with us for the group photo. Totally unscripted. Totally AWEsome!

SpaceTweetup Portrait with Astronauts Sprinkled in. Photo: ESA

SpaceTweetup Portrait with Astronauts Sprinkled in. Photo: ESA

Here is a list of the speakers from the agenda. As you can see, the DLR/ESA folks kept us hopping — in a wonderful way.

SpaceTweetup speakers

SpaceTweetup speakers

I lost track of the number of astronauts who visited the tent during the day. Ten or more, maybe? ESA astronauts train at a facility on site, which made it easy for them to drop by. I was thrilled to meet new ESA astronauts Alexander Gerst, @Astro_Luca Parmitano, and @AstroSamantha Cristoforetti, as well as veteran astronauts like Thomas Reiter, ESA’s Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations.

And, you know how it goes…when astronauts show up, tweeps leap into action…as in Lights, Camera, Action!

ESA/DLR SpaceTweetup TWaparazzi!

TWaparazzi!

New ESA astronaut @AstroSamantha

New ESA astronaut @AstroSamantha

@DataChick brought @VenusBarbie and friends

@DataChick's @VenusBarbie and friends listen to @Astro_Luca

NASA's Stephanie Schierholz encourages ESA Astronaut Alexander Gerst to tweet

NASA's Stephanie Schierholz encourages ESA Astronaut Alexander Gerst to tweet

I loved hearing new ESA astronaut @AstroSamantha tell the crowd that her inspiration has been @Astro_Paolo, @Astro_Ron, and his brainchild @FragileOasis. WooHoo for Fragile Oasis!! AND, if we can work out an agreement with our ESA colleagues, we hope to include ESA bloggernauts on the site. Shhhh. That’s just between us…. 

Stephanie Schierholz and I had an opportunity to share insights from our NASA tweetup experience. Here’s what tweeps look like via my iPhone Hipstamatic app Helga lens. Quite surreal and grainy. Or maybe it was all a dream.

Our very own TWaparazzi!

Our very own TWaparazzi! @mfrissen @gravinaut @hollandSpaceCen

With Space Day in full swing, we shared the facility with 80,000 visitors — adding to the excitement and frenzy.

DLR balloon in the crowd outside the SpaceTweetup Tent.

DLR balloon in the crowd outside the SpaceTweetup Tent.

Jeff Wallace @RocketMan528 carried @Camilla_SDO to Europe with him. Camilla is quite the cult hero. Space groupies rushed to take photos with her (including my Star Wars buddies and me). I don’t know if you can tell, but the woman in this photo is crying. I’ve never seen anything like it. Crying, just because she got to hold a rubber chicken (a very lovable rubber chicken, I might add).

SpaceTweetup @Camilla_SDO Fan

SpaceTweetup @Camilla_SDO Fan (They even dressed alike!)

Star Wars characters invaded the tweetup tent!

Magnet @Camilla_SDO collects Star Wars + NASA

I have so much more to share. Time and space get in my way. I’m still processing and absorbing. I have so many new tweeps to connect with. Without social media, I would never have met any of you out in the virtual universe — like my long-time Twitter buddies @Cosmo4U and @Amoroso, whom I met in person for the first time.

Our world is getting smaller, but our connections are limitless!

@SpaceRaceKids + @Timmermansr sharing the space luv!!

@SpaceRaceKids + @Timmermansr sharing the space luv!!

For more information about the tweetup, you can read ESA’s excellent blog and their Flickr stream.

I leave you with a few iconic pics of Germany.

Church next to my hotel.

Church next to my hotel.

The view outside the train station!

The view outside the train station!

Yummy Pretzels!

Yummy Pretzels!

Very Matrix-y: Remember to look UP inside the Frankfurt Airport

Very Matrix-y: Make sure you look UP inside the Frankfurt Airport

Next post: ESA/ESRIN tweetup in Frascati, Italy.

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Moon Shadows

Now that I’ve started the PhD program at Virginia Tech, I drive to the Blacksburg campus one day a week for classes. In order to get to my 9:00 a.m. class, I leave my house at 4:00 a.m. Needless to say, much of the drive is illuminated by artificial light — street lights and headlights from my car. Once I get into the hills and mountains outside the Washington, D.C. area, street lights disappear, as well as the light pollution from the metroplex. An amazingly bright moon (and BBC news on XM radio) kept me company.

Moon from Space

Moon from Space

As I drove, I thought about the disparity between people who live without power around the world — even today — and the hi-tech culture that sends humans to space. Technology enables me to look at photos of moonrises from space in near realtime. Some cultures may never see those pictures.

Lost in thought, I noticed something odd. Light kept flashing on and off the road in front of me and bounced off the hood of my car — like a pulsating flood light from a helicopter, but engulfing too great a distance to be manmade. I looked up through my sunroof to see the source.

The trees on top on the mountain cutaway created a filter pattern, blocking and revealing the moon, strobe-light fashion, as I drove through. It dawned on me:

Moon Shadows!

I’d never seen them before, that I can recall. What a cool experience in the black of night to have the heavenly light-dance in front of and all around me. A song from my distant past flooded into my memory: Cat Stevens’ Moonshadow.

“Yes, I’m being followed by a moonshadow

Moonshadow, moonshadow

Leaping and hopping on a moonshadow

Moonshadow, moonshadow…”

In my case, I was embraced by a moon shadow.

What is the significance of any of this? I’m not sure. I just felt the need to share the wonder and awe I felt driving through moon shadows, even just for a few minutes. I felt connected, in some strange way, to humans who walked on the surface of that huge reflecting orb in the sky. I felt sad for Astronaut Ron Garan who leaves behind, probably forever, the magnificent view he has of the moon and stars from Space Station.

Moon Rise over Earth. Photo by @Astro_Ron

Moon Rise over Earth. Photo by @Astro_Ron

Thank you, Moon, for inviting me to your shadow-dance performance. You made my day!

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