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2011-Jul-23, 08:03 PM
I've received and have accepted an invitation to join the NASA Tweetup for the Juno launch in early August. If you want to follow me and make my follow list someone less anemic, you can do so under my real name: kevinwparker (http://twitter.com/#!/kevinwparker).
2011-Jul-23, 08:25 PM
Sweet, or rather tweet. :)
2011-Jul-23, 09:02 PM
Nice! Have fun!
2011-Jul-23, 09:05 PM
OK, now I'm following you, and Ashlee Simpson. August company.
ETA: Since I'm breaking loose, I've added the Dalai Lama, and OK Go.
2011-Jul-23, 09:06 PM
I thought your real name was Evil Mister Spock. :(
2011-Jul-24, 05:56 PM
Hi, Good invitation, Sir. We shall be watching.
2011-Aug-04, 01:22 PM
I'm on-site in the Tweetup tent, just across the parking lot from the VAB. Boy, that's a big building!
Also cool to see the CBS News building right behind us.
2011-Aug-04, 02:11 PM
Just got through introductions. Best anecdote was from a local teacher who said he coordinated with the principal to schedule the school fire drills to coincide with rocket launches.
2011-Aug-04, 02:53 PM
"NASA Planetary Science is driven by 3 big questions: How did we get here? Where are we going? Are we alone?" - Jim Adams, Deputy Director for Planetary Science
2011-Aug-04, 05:30 PM
2011-Aug-05, 01:09 AM
Jim Adams, deputy director, planetary science:*
Using the most powerful Atlas for this launch (still going to take five years to get to Jupiter). Juno first spacecraft to use solar power at Jupiter's distance, may be the last. Panels generate 12,000 watts near Earth but just 400 near Jupiter, and half of that is used to keep the spacecraft warm, so there's just 200 watts for the instruments.
Key weather issue is not the weather at launch but that if they decide to tank up the rocket and have to cancel for some reason, it takes 26 hours to safe the vehicle well enough to put it back inside. Everything looks good for now, though.
Didn't catch the details, but he's got a bet going (involving a steak dinner) about the specific isotopes of methane that are currently on Mars - could differentiate between life or volcanoes as the source, apparently.
Scott Bolton, principal investigator:
After the Sun formed, the planets were formed from what was left over. Jupiter got the biggest share, of course, and because it's so massive it's managed to keep some of the original materials that Earth has lost - it has records of the early solar system. Stuff that Jupiter's enriched in is what we're made of: oxygen.*
Juno going into a very special polar orbit (33 of them in all), skimming only 5000 kilometers above the cloud tops. Want to measure magnetic field precisely. Understanding Jupiter will help us understand giant planets around other stars.
Questioner notes that one of the instruments is named JEDI:*Jupiter Energetic-particle Detector Instrument.*
Mission success criteria:
- Water abundance inside Jupiter
- Gravitational field (core in center)
- Magnetic field (internal structure)
Steve Levin, Juno project scientist:
How do you decide which instruments make it? Short answer: Scott Bolton decides. Long answer: Done by consensus based on resources available. After selection, make changes based on developments.*
Toby Owen, Fran Bagenal, Dave Stevenson, scientists:
A planet is like a book or movie. It has a story, it has a plot. You're looking at the whole history of the solar system. Jupiter in particular, how it formed and evolved. Has affected architecture of entire solar system. Water you're drinking probably came from near Jupiter and Jupiter affected how it came here. Jupiter is the place to look for solar system processes.*Jupiter's winds have changed the shape of Jupiter.
Most exciting things to come out of Juno - as with all previous missions - are the things we can't predict.
Two reasons to fly by Earth: Primary is to get to Jupiter faster, but also to test out the instruments on a target.
Idea for the Juno mission started in the JPL cafeteria.
Steve Matousek, mission design; Jan Chodas, project manager
They have props! (Jupiter globe and Juno model). Steve notes that there was some question about which way to spin the spacecraft (which is spin-stabilized like older missions such as the Pioneers rather than three-axis stabilized like most modern missions). Steve says he's the one to blame for scheduling the launch for August. (Weather report from later in the day: 91 degrees, feels like 116.)*
Jan: Concerns but Emily but still okay for now. 69-minute launch window. 26-day launch period. *Solar arrays 80-feet across.
Steve: Why not extend mission? Orbit deteriorates under Jupiter gravity, exposed to more and more radiation. (Hysterical demo as a tweep holds the Jupiter globe while Fran Bagenal simulates orbits with her fist, complete with the relative velocity changes between perijove and apojove.)
Chris Brosious, Lockheed Martin chief engineer.
Built in Denver. 18,600 solar cells, cherry-picked best ones among those produced. Titanium "vault" reduces radiation hit by a factor of 4000. Solar arrays 19000 watts at Earth, 450 at Jupiter. 3.8 million mpg on 500 gallons of fuel. Juno computers fairly modern PowerPCs, comparable to older Macs. Has to be pretty intelligent to deal with faults itself due to distance from Earth. . (Questioner mentions Skynet, not that bad.)
2011-Aug-05, 01:29 AM
We broke for lunch after hearing from everyone. It wasn't a particular high spot (particularly considering the steamy weather), but it was still pretty cool to walk past the VAB and a couple of the Orbiter Processing Facilities on the way to lunch. There's really no way of comprehending how big that building is - your brain just goes tilt and refuses to accept it, trying to pretend that it's a lot smaller and closer than it really is.*
Attendees were split up among four buses. I somehow cut the tip of my left middle finger and had to go off to get a bandaid for it. By the time I came back, the first three buses were full, so I ended up on the last one.*
The good news was that our bus's first stop was the VAB, and we got to go inside. Again, it's so vast that it's hard to take in. We got to see one of the launch platforms - hard to believe that there's a vehicle that can pick up one of those - complete with spacecraft on top - and haul it three miles to the launch pad. But the real highlight was getting to see Discovery, which was being prepared for its installation at the Smithsonian in one corner of the VAB. (Our tour guide almost forgot about this and was going to take us back to the bus before someone reminded him - he later thanked that person for saving his life as he knew how we'd react if we realized we'd missed it.)*
Anyhow, it's hard to put into words what it's like to stand just a few feet from a vehicle that's flown millions of miles in space, touched the Hubble and the ISS, but is never going anywhere as a spacecraft again. Some people were inspired, some sad, some even angry. Whatever its shortcomings, it's a magnificent machine in many ways, and the world seems a little emptier without it flying.*
Next stop was the Atlas launch control facility, where we got to see the actual Launch Control Center. We also got to see the booster that's going to launch Curiosity to Mars, which was lying on its side inside the building, Unlike the GRAIL rocket, which was poised on the launch pad, yet to be mated to the *payload fairing.
Next stop was Pad 17, where a Delta II sat poised to send GRAIL to the Moon, a launch that's still several weeks away. This may be the last launch from Pad 17 and the next-to-last launch of any Delta. Both have a history going back to 1960.
Best of all, thought, we got to within a few hundred yards of the Juno rocket, which looked pretty impressive. Hard to believe that they used to launch rockets almost twice that height. (The Atlas V is about 200 feet high, while the Saturn V's were 363 feet.)
We drove past Pad 39A, where most of the Apollo missions and all of the later shuttle missions went off, and stopped at a viewpoint between that and pad 39B. *A is still mostly intact, having been recently used, but B is just a shell, not having been used since the test flight of an early Ares rocket a year or two ago.
And that was the end of the day's activities. I have lots of photos, but I won't be able to get them off my camera and share them. until I get back home. If I can find links to some good photos others have taken, I'll post them.
2011-Aug-05, 01:48 AM
Discovery in the VAB (http://instagr.am/p/JXGvZ/)
Wider view (http://touch.lockerz.com/s/126596811)
Different angle (http://twitpic.com/60ygya)
Launch Pad 17 and the Delta II that's going to launch GRAIL (http://yfrog.com/kizr6syj)
Juno rocket on the launch pad (http://instagr.am/p/JWgf7/)
2011-Aug-05, 11:59 AM
Back at the site, this time (we hope) to see the launch. Everything is go at this point.
2011-Aug-05, 01:03 PM
1. Andy Aldrin. Buzz's son, working for United Launch Alliance. Multiple questions about man-rating the Atlas, which he keeps correcting to human-rating. Says it's already about as safe as it could be.
Questioner says he's going to "address the elephant in the room", specifically *his father. Aldrin says, "First time I've heard my father referred to as an elephant." Goes on to say that it was no big deal that his father was an astronaut - all of his friends' fathers were astronauts. What was cool about his dad was that he could pole vault.
2. Waleed Abdalati, NASA chief scientist. "The goal of this mission is to understand the solar system, the universe and our place in it." Mostly encouraging us to appreciate how amazing this is. "As you watch [Juno launch] I encourage to to feel proud, to be amazed. It's okay to yell this is cool!" "Share the experience with your friends - in 140 characters or less." Talks about his work "still learning like crazy."*
"NASA is NOT saving a freshwater reservoir on Mars for the next budget cycle."
Talking about how he got into his job. Was good at math, etc., but went into engineering. Wasn't enthusiastic about it, coming in late, leaving early, taking long lunches. Coworkers talking about how long to retirement. Decided this wasn't it, went back to school, interested in spacecraft.*
"I wanted to wake up in the morning and really WANT to go do whatever I was going to do [for work]." -Waleed Abdalati, NASA Chief Scientist
"If it drains you, it's wrong. If it energizes you, it's right. I sought that which energized me." - Dr. Abdalati #NASATweetup
3. Charlie Bolden, NASA administrator. (Actually gets a bigger hand when announcer mentions that he commanded the mission that took Hubble to space.) Atlantis returned to KSC to stay. New approaches to power, Juno first to go to Jupiter with solar power. Never dreamed of becoming an astronaut, never dreamed of flying airplanes. Knew I wanted to go to the USNA but wanted to be diver. Turned out that's not a path. Admired one officer, Marine, followed him into USMC. Rather than go to Vietnam, went to flight school at his wife's behest. First time he got into a plane fell in love with it. Inspired to become an astronaut by Ron McNair. McNair asked "Are you going to apply?" "No." "Why not?" "There's no way I'd get accepted." "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard - you don't know that."
Question: People here keep getting asked "Is NASA dead"? Answer: Robotics missions will be ongoing and are important. I don't call them robotic missions, I call them precursors. Need to know a lot more about the solar system before we send humans there. For those who think we're reliant on the Russians indefinitely, two private companies are attempting launches next year, more after that. Expect to see American spacecraft going back to ISS in 2015-17 timeframe. On ISS continuously for a decade. New crew going to ISS from Baikonur in September. This is not new - been doing it since 2003.
'What would I say to students who want my job? Be careful what you ask for!'
2011-Aug-05, 03:27 PM
Mike Ravine, JunoCam instrument manager, Malin Space Science Systems
"Fourteen cameras going into space by lunchtime." Camera not essential to Juno science, but hard for people to relate to a spacecraft without a camera. Due to polar orbit and desire to take photos of the poles, comparatively low light levels. Also*has to have fast exposure since spacecraft is rotating. Camera only required to work through orbit 8.*
Bill Nye Plaque commemorating Galileo (the man, not the spacecraft) on Juno. He changed the world.*
First question is about his appearance on Stargate: Atlantis. Goes off on multiple tangents about the "science", etc. Eventually says he had a blast and would do it again in an ins - in an hour-and-a-half after this launch goes off.
Asked about getting kids interested in science, says algebra is key - teach it to girls (who mature faster than boys) starting at age 10. "Science is a human endeavor. Half of the humans are women, so half of the scientists should be women."
Questioner from the Museum of Flight in Seattle has him going off on the history of flight. Talks about his grandmother, who as a little girl met the Wright Brothers in College Park, MD, and wanted to go on a ride on their plane (but her mother - Bill's great-grandmother - wouldn't let her). She lived to see the 747.*
Questioner asks what he'd like us to do. Says to write Congress about James Webb Space Telescope. As an executive, I can understand that someone messed up, someone didn't say no when they should have. Okay, fix the mismanagement, but don't cancel the telescope. Come on, this is the replacement for Hubble - the world's telescope! SSC was cancelled because scientists went to Congress and said, "We're looking for the Higgs boson." No! We're looking for the next secret of the universe! James Webb will be doing the same thing. If the next great discovery is made by someone outside the US, how would you feel about that?
2011-Aug-05, 03:27 PM
Launch to be delayed by at least five minutes while they look at the charge cycle problem.
2011-Aug-05, 05:27 PM
The myriad delays somehow gave me confidence that the launch would actually come off today. From experience, when things are going smoothly something tends to muck them up at the last minute. When there are problems early, it may be stressful but at least it's going to happen.
A bunch of us left the tent just as the count picked up. I put on my sunglasses and hat to deal with the bright sunlight, which we were approximately looking into. I was pleased to see that the big famous countdown clock was finally showing the Juno count - we'd been told that it wasn't going to because it was hooked to the shuttle systems only. Anyhow, I had the time to take a photo of it before heading over to get a view of the launch.
I crossed my fingers internally as the countdown got below one minute. We couldn't actually see the launch vehicle from our position, just the tops of the lightning towers surrounding it. So when the count got to zero we couldn't see anything different at first.
The first direct indication of liftoff was seeing just the tip of the white nosecone of the rocket. Only moments later, we could see the entire rocket as well as the blinding yellow-white light at the base of the spacecraft. That was really the one thing that watching on TV gives you no impression of.*
The Atlas continued to soar in silence for close to fifteen seconds. Then I heard the first hints of rumbling quickly building into a deafening, throbbing roar and then only gradually fading away.*
Soon the rocket disappeared behind the monumental trail of smoke, and I moved to one side to continue to watch it as it turned to a more horizontal course. Before much longer, the rocket disappeared entirely, but I could still follow it just from the contrail. I was briefly concerned as the rocket seemed to be turning slightly in its course one way and then the other, but it was jettisoning the solid rocket booster strap-ons at the time, so that seems to be a side effect.
Shortly after that, it was no longer even possible to follow the smoke trail - and a woman near me with binoculars who had been following it with those gave up as well. There was a round of applause, and an energized crowd returned to the tent to go back to tweeting and to watch the launch replays.
2011-Aug-05, 07:37 PM
You are fantastically lucky. Really, all of it. I can't say how incredible it sounds.
2011-Aug-05, 08:02 PM
Really nice job Tweeting, maybe you should change your forum handle: "ToTweet" instead of "ToSeek" :)
2011-Aug-07, 09:09 AM
Expect to see American spacecraft going back to ISS in 2015-17 timeframe. Just wanted to repeat that.
maybe you should change your forum handle: we'll just change "Twitter" to "Seeker"
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