Monday, September 20, 2010

Carnival of Space #170

I've been a Very Bad Blogger recently. Aside from work and a doggie health crisis, I'm still pretty infatuated with HDTV/Blu-Ray and all the cool stuff streaming through our Netflix "Instant Queue." Things like the 2008 PBS documentary Carrier (10 episodes about the USS Nimitz), In Search of Beethoven, Imagine: John Lennon, and It Might Get Loud (musical conversations with guitarists Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White). Not much space stuff unless you count The Iron Giant (an animated favorite that looks great in HD). I also have the 2009 Sam Rockwell movie Moon in my queue. I saw it once on an airplane and although I didn't love it, I'd like to see it on a bigger screen. 

So no wonder there's no time for blogging! But space blogging by other people marches on, as you will quickly see from this week's Carnival of Space #170, hosted by National Geographic's Breaking Orbit blog.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

JPL Solar System Ambassadors: Sign-up Time

The JPL Solar System Ambassador program is for volunteers (non-NASA employees) who wish to be involved in educational and community outreach related to space exploration. Provided materials (mostly web-based) and telephone briefings tend to be mostly related to JPL programs, but ambassadors are free to define their own presentation subjects and styles. I've been in this program since 2007, and I have really enjoyed doing presentations at schools, libraries, museums, and scouting events. I personally tend to use a lot of simulation software (especially Orbiter and Stellarium) in my presentations, which is purely my choice based on my interests and skills. Other ambassadors may focus more on PowerPoint, video, hands-on activities, and sky observations.

If you live in the United States and are interested in becoming a JPL Solar System Ambassador, September is the only time you can apply, so act now! You certainly don't have to be an engineer, scientist, or teacher, though many ambassadors do have such backgrounds (many are also amateur astronomers). The main thing is that you have an active interest in space exploration and that you enjoy sharing your interests with other people, often but not always children.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

NASA Historical Photo Collection

NASA has a huge collection of photos related to space exploration and history - perhaps too many to conveniently explore considering the many NASA web sites, although there are some "greatest hits" sites such as Great Images in NASA (GRIN). But these days photo galleries are also social media, since people like to share and comment on photos. So NASA has been putting photos out on Flickr (e.g., JWST, JPL, and GSFC). Here's a cool new one, "NASA On the Commons." It's only 180 photos right now, a really random-seeming collection of historical photos, from Freedom 7 to space center construction photos to a "Moon fest" at NASA Ames in 2009. There are also some pre-NASA photos of people for whom NASA centers have been named, including one of my local heroes, Dr. Robert Goddard (GSFC). The one shown here shows Goddard in 1925 with his first liquid-fueled rocket.