Reading Challenge 2016

There is nothing I love more than reading. I have always been a voracious reader, consistently being the top reader throughout my elementary and middle school years. When I got to college, however, my reading for pleasure really dwindled.

Now that I have graduated, Matt and I have both really gotten into reading again. I’ve even centered most of my resolutions this year around reading.

For one, I want to build a Little Free Library. I own tons of books and want to give others the chance to read them or add them to their collection.

Secondly, I have issued reading challenges to myself! I plan on doing the entire shorter list (shown below), and part, if not all, of the longer list as well. To help with this, I’ve also joined Emma Watson’s feminist book club on Goodreads! The first book in that club is “My Life on the Road” by Gloria Steinem, and I am really enjoying it so far!

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Other books I am currently reading include:
“Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee
“Girls of Atomic City” by Denise Kiernan
“The Martian Race” by Gregory Bedford
“The Tales of Beedle the Bard” by JK Rowling

Books I am intermittently reading are:
“Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy
“Dragon’s Egg” by Robert L. Forward
“Skywalking” by Tom Jones
“Moonshot” by Deke Slayton and Alan Shepherd

Thirdly, I want to keep track of all the books I read this year, and which books I don’t finish (and why I didn’t finish them).

What are your reading goals this year? Are you interested in joining me in my reading challenges? Do you have any books that you recommend I read this year? Let me know! Maybe we can start a book exchange!

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Water found on the surface of Mars!

http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/2015/09/28/nasa-confirms-evidence-that-liquid-water-flows-on-todays-mars

If you haven’t heard the incredible discovery announced today about Mars, stop what you’re doing and read the above article.

Researchers at Georgia Tech have discovered seasonal salt water flow on Mars! Such an incredible discovery! This definitely will change where we explore the red planet and how future research will be conducted on Mars.

Research findings like these are so exciting to me! This is what motivates me to work hard and do what I do.

Antares Launch “Anomaly”

Last night, Orbital Sciences launched Orb-3, an ISS resupply mission, from NASA’s Wallops flight facility in Virginia. Shortly after liftoff, a currently unidentified anomaly occurred and the rocket exploded. Thankfully, it was an unmanned mission and nobody on the ground was hurt.

A lot of people have been freaking out about this incident. I just wanted to comment and give a few of my thoughts on the general incident.

Unfortunately, as cool as rocket science is, going to space and building a successful rocket is hard. Anomalies happen. There has never been an entity in the US that has a perfect launch record. Accordingly, when it comes to spaceflight, it is not a matter of if something is going to fail, but when. We are talking about extremely complex vehicles that leave the planet; if they were easy to engineer and launch, the world would be very different. That being said, I do not know what caused the rocket to fail and if it was a sort of complacency or unknown problem to cause the failure. Regardless, mishaps happen and Orbital will recover. This is just a reminder of how hard spaceflight is and how we must always remember this fact.

How the Rosetta Spacecraft Will Land on a Comet (Infographic)

NASA Social: Apollo 45

On Monday, July 12, I got to attend my first NASA Social, #Apollo45. It was a special event, celebrating the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11. The Operations and Checkouts building at Kennedy Space Center was also being renamed that day to the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkouts building, and a special renaming ceremony was being hosted. 

I arrived on center that morning and drove to the press site, across from the iconic VAB. The press site, sadly, did not seem to be bustling like it used to before a launch or special event. I met with the other NASA Social attendees, many of them having attended at least one social or tweetup before this. I met a few familiar faces that I had previously only known through twitter, which was really fantastic! We introduced ourselves and then hopped on a bus and rode to the O&C for the ceremony. 

We walked into the O&C, which has gotten a nice facelift in recent years! We came inside to see rockets and historical space objects, like Neil Armstrong’s moonsuit. We had the chance to sign a sign commemorating the event, alongside signatures of Neil’s family, Buzz Aldrin, and other space celebs. 

Then we entered the Orion high bay, where the ceremony was being held. It was already very full, but to my surprise, we were escorted to the front, across from the stage, with the professional media. Even more to my surprise, a few of us (myself included), were allowed to actually stand on a side stage to ourselves during the ceremony! (It was one of the best views in the place). 

NASA Deputy Director Charlie Bolden and KSC Center Director Bob Cabana, both former astronauts, started the ceremony. Then astronauts on board the ISS tuned in via video in realtime and had a Q&A/speaking time. Then, Neil’s two sons, Mark and Rick, spoke about their father. Following the Armstrongs, former astronaut Jim Lovell, backup commander for Apollo 11 and commander of Apollo 13, spoke about Neil and their adventures back in the day. Next, Neil’s Apollo 11 crew spoke. Second man on the moon, science advocate, and celebrity Buzz Aldrin, spoke about Neil. Mike Collins, an unsung and often forgotten member of the Apollo 11 flight, spoke. (Mike flew the capsule and did not get to go to the moon; rather, he orbited by himself while Neil and Buzz were on the lunar surface). 

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Rick Armstrong

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Mark Armstrong

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After the speaking ended, the event moved into a side room for cake and socializing, and the NASA Social attendees and I went off to lunch. 

After lunch, we had an awesome tour of the VAB. We went to a couple of different floors and saw platforms for both the space shuttle and the Saturn V. It was pretty neat! Overall, my first NASA Social was an awesome experience and I hope to do it again. 

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Motivational Monday

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(Image Credit: From Quarks to Quasars).

Today’s motivation comes from one of my heroes and idols, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and one of my favorite non-profits, From Quarks to Quasars. For those of you who don’t NDT, Dr. Tyson is an amazing person, and is a brilliant physicist and speaker. His books are also wonderful and easy to read; I strongly encourage them to any interested in science, space, and the cosmos.

I also highly recommend checking out From Quarks to Quasars. There website and their Facebook page are fantastic venues for keeping up with the latest news in science, as they try to educate the masses. They are a really fantastic organization, so check them out! Links are provided below for you convenience.

http://www.fromquarkstoquasars.com/

https://www.facebook.com/fromquarkstoquasars

 

The final space shuttle launch: Three years ago today

The anticipation that morning was high.

Everyone arrived early with a bittersweet excitement. The entire space center was abuzz. This was the last launch. The last launch. After today, never again would the space shuttle spread her wings and soar into the cosmos.

We were a part of history.

Many people there who witnessed the last launch had worked on or in support of the magnificent space shuttle for years, for entire careers. Others, like myself, only worked on it for a summer or two. The vast majority, the rest of the world, watched it with a different perspective of awe and sadness. But everyone watching was amazed. And everyone watching was sad.

I can’t believe this launch was three years ago today. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I remember the entire day as if it were a movie I just watched. I remember the sights and the feelings and everyone around me. It was one of the most bittersweet days of my entire life.

It was a day I’ll never forget.

Where were you this day three years ago? Did you watch the launch? Share your stories in the comments!

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Houston, we’re ready for takeoff!

We are currently EN ROUTE to Houston to fly on a zero gravity flight with NASA!!!!!! We have our 12 passenger van loaded; our bags are packed, our experiment is ready and loaded, and we have money for lots of Texas BBQ! We are ridiculously excited to represent our university, perform great research, swoop in zero-g…but most importantly, we are ready to #DefyGravity

Although I will be updating my blog upon return, the best way to follow our updates is through facebook and twitter! Be sure to follow our adventures at NASA and in zero-g in real time by following us at our respective Orbital Ospreys social media sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/orbitalospreys

Twitter: https://twitter.com/OrbitalOspreys

You can also learn more about the exact flight week process and what it is like to fly in zero gravity here:

3…2…1…We’re ready to blast off!

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Summer has come at last!

Hey everyone!!!!!

I know I have been MIA for pretty much this entire spring semester, but I have conquered my hardest semester yet! Therefore, I am back, ready to blog again!

This semester has truly been rough, but I survived, and did much better than I had anticipated (but I will probably write a separate post about this later). Now, it is summer!!

My summer will be pretty busy though. I fly with NASA is less than a month, and I still have a lot to worry about on that end. But it’s one of the most awesome opportunities of my life, so I don’t mind the extra work or worry. I also start interning at GE Aviation this upcoming Monday! I have no idea what I will be doing there, but it will surely be interesting to find out.

My Science Saturday outreach will also “boom” this summer. The nation’s summer reading theme this year is actually STEM-related, so I am ready to have a fantastically awesome summer inspiring kids to think critically and explore science. It’s going to be marvelous.

And of course, I will be blogging again! I plan to start blogging frequently, but it will probably pick up after flight week.

I hope you all will join me here as I blog about my adventures in space and science this summer!