Wednesday, August 10, 2011

NASA Juno Tweetup: day 1 - arrival and guest speakers

Read my previous blog entry in the "NASA Juno Tweetup" series: "Preparation and travel"
Jump back to my first blog entry in the series:  "Preview of my report"

The first day of the NASA Juno Tweetup had finally arrived.  After a few wrong turns, and finding myself at a Kennedy Space Center security checkpoint without a badge, I found my way to the Press Accreditation Building to get my Tweetup badge.  I was also given a bag of NASA goodies that included a space station calendar, mission pins and patch, stickers, and plenty of reading material about Juno and the NASA Launch Services Program.

NASA goodies

Now that I could actually get through the security checkpoint, I was directed to park next to the Vehicle Assembly Building.  The Tweetup tent (our home for the next two days) was located at the Launch Complex 39 Press Site.  I immediately decided that I had to take my picture with the Vehicle Assembly Building.  You know how Neil Armstrong immediately grabbed some samples of moon rocks before he did anything else, so in case anything happened he would at least have the samples to bring back?  Well, I felt the same way about getting my picture with the VAB.

After I stepped foot on the LC-39 Press Site, I started thinking about the history that people witnessed standing on the same ground I was standing on.  The excitement of the first Saturn V rocket shaking the ground as it left the launch pad.  Three men leaving earth on the tip of a Saturn V, not sure if they'll return from walking on the moon.  The horror of watching STS-51-L Challenger, the first shuttle to launch from LC-39B, break apart only 73 seconds after launch.  Less than one month earlier, on July 8th, 2011, those standing at the LC-39 Press Site witnessed the final launch of a space shuttle.

Here's a quick video tour of the LC-39 Press Site that I created.  I shot this video on day 2 (launch day):

NASA provided us with a large, air conditioned tent, equipped with a stage for the guest speakers and Wi-Fi for all of us nerds to use.  After all, you can't expect us to yack about the event on social media sites without decent network connections.  Adrenaline and excitement levels were at an all time high, but the NASA Tweetup organizers somehow quieted down 150 pumped up nerds so we could go around the tent and introduce ourselves.  Talk about a diverse and interesting crowd!  I was pretty excited to connect with many of my fellow Tweetup participants and keep in touch after our two days together were over.  

Tweetup participants connecting to the tent's Wi-Fi

After introductions, Trent Perrotto and Stephanie Schierholz got the speaking portion of our day started.  This event was televised by NASA TV on their Education Channel.  Even though I was at a NASA event, I'm still a video production nerd, so of course I checked out their equipment.

NASA TV's Panasonic HPX2000 cameras with a Telecast fiber system

The Tweetup organizers really put together a wonderful group of guest speakers for us.  We had a great mix of those who work on the Juno team and the Atlas V launch team.  Here's the list of speakers we heard from:

I'm really drawn to the engineering aspect of space exploration, so I was concerned that the scientific talks would be over my head.  Either I comprehend more than I think, the speakers dumbed it down for us, or it was a combination of both, but I really enjoyed the talks about the scientific aspects of the Juno mission.  Looking back at my Tweets during the talks, I had a few that stood out to me:
"@NASAJim tells us that it will take 48 minutes for data signals to get from back to Earth when it's orbiting Jupiter"
"Jupiter's winds are so strong they change the shape and magnetic fields of the planet. The "eye" must be one heck of a storm!"
" will eventually (5 years from now) make 33 orbits of Jupiter. The orbits will get as close as "skimming the clouds"
"The equipment on is protected from Jupiter's super high radiation levels by a 1/2" thick casing of titanium."
"Chris Brosious, from Lockheed Martin, says dust and small particles in space will destroy 5-10% of solar cells."
The thought that really came to my mind during the talks is something that I also Tweeted that day:
"All the speakers they have for us are the kind of lucky people that get paid to do what they absolutely love to do."
These were some really amazing people that were utterly enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge with us.  I found it very motivating to be around so many people that had such deep passion for what they did.  I also couldn't overlook the fact that they are all geniuses!  If someone came to me and said that I had to design a spacecraft that can study a planet that's 365 million miles away, I wouldn't have the first clue where to start!  Well, don't take my word for it.  Here's the complete video from the NASA TV shoot that day:

After the speaking portion of the day wrapped up, we walked over to the NASA employee cafeteria for lunch.  The food was nothing to write home about, but it was still neat to be eating in the shadow of the Vehicle Assembly Building.

If you haven't figured it out from this blog post, the morning of day one was a blast.  Stimulating guest speakers really built up the excitement level for the launch of Juno, and the tent was buzzing with anticipation for our Kennedy Space Center tour that afternoon.

Read my next blog entry in the "NASA Juno Tweetup" series:  "Day 1 - Launch Complex 17 tour"
See all my pictures from the NASA Juno Tweetup


  1. Finally!, I found your day1 in NASA. I've been looking for almost an hour.

  2. Hi Mike. Thanks for reading. Check out this link for a list of all my NASA Juno Tweetup blog posts: