As I am a space geek with a sizable social media presence, I put my name in.
On April 16, I received an invitation by email for the Hubble NASA Social.
On Thursday, April 23, I embarked on my trip, driving to Philadelphia's 30th St Station and taking the Amtrak 6:05am train to Washington DC, then walked from Union Station to the Newseum, where we would watch a press conference hosted by NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate John Grunsfeld, and others, who talked about Hubble and unveil the official 25th Anniversary Hubble Image, which can be seen HERE. Video below.
After the presser we had about an hour to walk around Newseum, then convene at 11:00am for the bus trip to the NASA Goddard Space Fight Center in Greenbelt, MD, for various guided tours.
Our first stop was the building that houses the clean room in which the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the successor to Hubble, is being built, scheduled to launch October 2018. The clean room - the largest in the world - was the room used to build Hubble and is now being used to build the JWST.
We were then bused to other locations to learn about the various activities at the Goddard Center, including:
- ICESat-2: Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite: The second generation Earth Observing System mission for measuring ice sheet mass balance, cloud and aerosol heights, as well as land topography and vegetation characteristics.
- OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (OVIRIS): a scanning LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), similar to a RADAR, but uses light instead of radio waves to measure distance.
- James Webb Space Telescope's Helium Shroud.
- Space Environment Simulation (SES) Facility 290.
- The Acoustic Test Zone.
- Remote Robotics Maintenance lab: A joint effort between NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), an external station experiment designed to demonstrate the technologies, tools, and techniques needed to robotically service and refuel satellites in orbit, especially those not built with servicing in mind.
Finally, we were brought to the building which houses the Hubble Mission Operations Room and Command Center, including a demonstration by NASA engineers of the various modules and tools that were used in Hubble repair and maintenance missions and the challenges in developing the hardware and procedures.
Throughout the day I provided live updates on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
After that, a group photo and bus ride back to DC, where I walked to Union Station for the train ride back to Philly.
CLICK HERE for photos.
I left with my enthusiasm for NASA affirmed with this crash course in the inner workings of the Goddard Center.
About the Author:
Jeff Pickens is a New Jersey based blogger and host of the recently launched The Pick’s Place Radio Hour webcast on BlogTalkRadio. An accountant by trade, Jeff’s outside interests include cooking (both outdoors and indoors), photography, writing, fundraising, and volunteering. Every year Jeff puts his passions for cycling, BBQ, and photography to work by participating in the Philadelphia American Cancer Society Bikeathon, the Garry Maddox BBQ Challenge benefitting Compete 360, and Philadelphia Help Portrait.
In addition to his own blog, Pick's Place, Jeff has contributed to other platforms, including OpenSalon, where his account of a counter-protest against the Westboro Baptist Church's attempt to disrupt a soldier's funeral in Bordentown, NJ earned a front page "Editor's Pick”.
Jeff has a Bachelor's degree in Accounting from Thomas Edison State College, Trenton NJ and is active with the Alumni Association as as an advocate for the school, having appeared before the NJ State Assembly Budget Committee successfully leading the fight against merging the college with Rutgers University. He has appeared in radio, print and internet banner ads for the college.
A Bergen County, NJ native and lifelong resident and self-proclaimed expert on all things New Jersey, Jeff currently lives in Southern NJ with his wife Lori.