17 Amazing Reasons to Why We Should Be Excited About Space
Over the years I have been fortunate to meet and talk to such brilliant, passionate, and inspiring space advocates. They’ve all done amazing jobs spreading the excitement of space exploration to the masses. I’ve taken a group of special space advocates that I think everyone needs to know about. I asked them this one question:
Question: What NASA or space project are you most excited about and why?
Also please feel free to leave an answer in the comments below. I would love to see what you’re excited about.
An award winning science and technology journalist, he’s a man who brought us intimate details of the universe right to our door. He’s kept the science community engaged and informed since 1996! Alan is currently a science editor at NBC News Digital, writes for his critically acclaimed blog called the Cosmic Log blogger, and an author of The Case for Pluto.
What I’m Excited About: “Gotta say @NewHorizons2015 – first-ever visit to Pluto, a totally different type of dwarf planet.”
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What can I say about Alyssa Carson that I haven’t already said in my article “5 Reasons Why You Should Know Alyssa Carson.” She’s a 13 year old space prodigy that has visited every NASA facility and the first person to complete all the NASA space camps. Her passion for astronomy and the universe runs deep in her veins and I have no doubt that she has a bright future ahead of her. Alyssa is also quite humble and has given a TED talk as well as inspirational speeches to schools. Remember her name because you’ll surely hear it again, whether she’s going to the ISS, Moon, or Mars!
What I’m Excited About: I am most excited about SLS because it will be the project that will help me get to Mars and for future space exploration. SLS could be what we have been needing for the US to become first in exploration again and continue to get us further then we have ever gone before.
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A caring and deeply passionate space advocate that has contributed an admirable amount to the NASA Social or space community. She’s attended many NASA events and has helped organized wonderful NASA Social dinners to bring the community closer together. If you’re new to the NASA Social or space community scene, Angela knows how to make you feel welcomed and a part of the community. Her following on Twitter grows by the day and you’ll know why after you follow her.
What I’m Excited About: Hello!! I can only choose one?!?! I am really excited about the NASA Climate Change Mission and the recent launch in June of the OCO-2 Orbiting Carbon Observatory This is exciting to me because it involves real time data that will help scientists and Earth science researchers with real time analysis to allow for direct and immediate action to help mitigate the devastating effects of human made climate change! Just here where I live in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia the military has declared climate change a national security threat as rising water levels and higher storm surges are costing precious budget resources. Droughts, super storms, ocean acidification and other issues affect us all. Naturally, I am also very excited about Mars exploration with Curiosity, the Orion spacecraft, and the James Webb Telescope! Further, it is inspiring to see NASA and the space community focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and outreach for children and youth through many programs, communication, as well as through NASA Social opportunities.
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A fantastic author who has literature and storytelling in her veins since she was at least seven years old. Cidney has an array of books she’s written including her wonderful series called “Saving Mars.” She speaks passionately about space exploration and continues to inspire her followers through her books or wonderful tweets. If you love a good science fiction book then I highly recommend checking out her books. It’ll excite your mind and take you on a stellar journey.
What I’m Excited About: “My family will happily tell you that Mom is a bit Mars-crazy. It’s probably the little things I do, like stepping out on the back deck to say, “Goodnight, Mars!” or commenting on how handsome the martial planet is looking this or that evening. I admit it: I’m mad for Mars.
Because of this, I’m super excited as NASA’s Orion gets closer to carrying a human crew to … you guessed it: Mars. But I think I’m even more smitten with Mars One’s mission. Why? Well, partly this came out of chats with a few people who are still in the running for that one way trip. But I think the idea of Mars One really catches me on two levels. Firstly, it’s just so audacious. Mars by 2024? Yes, please! It took some serious audacity to get the Apollo missions off the ground, so I’m all for audacious. Secondly, I love that the search for crews has been so international in scope. I was raised on Star Trek and am still hopeful for international cooperation when it comes to reaching for the stars.”
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An awesome space advocate who started his spectacular podcast show called Talking Space (600 episodes and counting wohoo!). Gene has an ever growing following on Facebook and Twitter and posts such insightful unique posts about space that it’ll amaze you almost on a daily basis. Even for the veteran space advocate, Gene seems to find some really good unique stories that veterans might miss. If you’ve been hanging around the space community for a while now than you probably already know who Gene Mikulka is, and if not then you better start following him now!
What I’m Excited About: “Interesting question, one I gave some significant thought to over the past couple of days. To try to answer your questions I reviewed everything going on currently in my mind, planetary missions, even the ones currently in play, The Webb telescope, aeronautics research, and the human spaceflight program , the research coming out of ISS and so on.
I Even considered some of the new players coming on the field not just in the commercial area but the other nations who have decided to throw their hats over the wall and into the space arena. India is getting involved deeply in space now, the UK is talking about constructing its own space port. The things going on at Reaction Engines, with its SABRE project to hopefully launch the SSTO Vehicle, Skylon. So many things going on and so many players coming on line.
This may seem like a sad answer, but right now, I don’t think I can single out just one thing that gets me excited. I applaud the MOM mission as much as I do Curiosity or New Horizons. I applaud the innovation going on at companies like SNC, Orbital, Boeing and SpaceX. I applaud NASA for its work on Orion and SLS. So the whole sphere is exciting and well slightly depressing too, since we here in the US lack consensus as to what we should do with these grand tools we are constructing. Once we do achieve that consensus (and I don’t see that happening until after the 2016 election here in the US) and have a clear, well funded and sustainable direction, think things will begin to crystallize nicely.”
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Is a lab assistant and a great writer who writes passionately about NASA for http://Examiner.com and The Spaceflight Group-http://spaceflightinsider.com. He’s always tweeting really cool stories that vary from io9, his own articles, updates on NASA, or just some good ol’ fashion science stories! He’s definitely one to put on your list for all the fun and interesting space/science stories.
What I’m Excited About: “The New Horizons mission to Pluto. So little is known about the ‘dwarf planet’ and so much can be learned just a year from now!”
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One of the most intriguing and wonderful theoretical physicists I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Jonah has several publications under his belt and is associated with the Premier Institute. If you have a burning question about physics or want to pick Jonah’s brain on differential geometry, general and special relativity, or even quantum gravity then Jonah is a fantastic person to go to. If you want to hear more about the awesome knowledge Jonah is waiting to share then I highly recommend his blog called The Physics Mill. Consider Jonah to be your guide to crazy side of science!
What I’m Excited About: Where to start? I suppose I’d say I’m excited by a number of things in two broad tracks: New technology for getting into space, and new scientific experiments to learn about space.
Getting into space: 3D printers in space. A major challenge in space exploration is that it’s so incredibly costly to get things INTO space. I think a space elevator is still unfeasible, so 3d printers, which are as close to star trek replicators as we can get, are ideal.
The plan to use moon dust as printing “ink” is especially exciting because we won’t even have to transport materials, just one printer.
I’m also very excited by Advanced LIGO, (aLIGO) which should be turning on this year. The motion of large objects creates “ripples” in spacetime which we perceive as distance itself oscillating in time. With a big enough ruler we should be able to detect it. This will open up a whole new “wavelength” with which we can observe objects in space. For example, It should help us learn about what neutron stars are made of and it should help us understand black holes. Of course, I’m biased towards LIGO because I’m a gravitational physicist and it uses general relativity.
Finally, I’m excited about IceCube, the Neutrino observatory at the south pole (http://icecube.wisc.edu/). Very high energy astrophysical events shouldn’t just emit light and gravitational waves or even X-rays. They should also emit high energy subatomic particles like neutrinos. Specifically, we believe that core-collapse supernovae (stars that explode when they run out of nuclear fuel) lose most of their energy to neutrinos that they radiate away. If we could observe the neutrinos from a core-collapse supernova, that would go a long way to explaining and understanding how the darn things work.
Neutrinos are tricky little things, though. They have a very small wavelength, so small that they pass through almost everything (like how x-rays pass through walls but even more so). And they’re also uncharged, so they’re not stopped by charged objects like electrons are. Thus, if we make a neutrino detector, the probability that we’ll stop and detect a given neutrino passing through our detector is very small. To catch even one Neutrino, then, we need to cast a very wide net. In the case of IceCube, that is one cubic kilometer of detector dug into the ice of the south pole. IceCube is cool partly because it’s a staggering feat of engineering. It’s 2.5km tall, after all. But it’s also cool because we usually think of astronomers looking into the sky using light. But more and more we’re trying to look into the sky using gravitational waves (a la aLIGO) or with subatomic particles.
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BONUS! Check out Jonah’s extended answer to this question here!
Is a graduate student at Youngstown State University in American studies who is well known among the NASA Social community and of course #NASATweetup’s. Within meeting or reading her lovely blog Kat has a tenacious attitude towards her passion. It can be about the benefit of space exploration for humankind or her love for poetry and what she see’s in the world. Whether you’re a space advocate or someone who just admires a cool person you should check out Kat on G+, Twitter, or her website.
What I’m Excited About: “Obvious reasons to love Orion aside, I would have to say OSIRIS-REx. Sample return missions are always very exciting because we get to study extraterrestrial material, but this particular mission PI is at my alma mater (The University of Arizona), also, it’s looking at the origin of life which I am fascinated by.”
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A passionate space advocate that has been an active community member for years. He shares his excitement for space exploration on Twitter and always welcomes new advocates to the scene. He’s been gaining a good following just in the last year alone and will most likely keep growing. If you’re trying to keep up with space news or pictures then definitely follow Kyle on Twitter.
What I’m Excited About: “James Webb Space Telescope because it will change the way we see space. The evolving human species will expand our life and strength of our DNA.”
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A space advocate who has an amazing ability to inspire the public with gorgeous images paired with beautifully written content or quotes. Actually, you’ve probably have already seen Matt’s images floating around the web at some point. He created the famous web presence called Oh Star Stuff. If you’re on Instagram then you definitely want to follow Oh Star Stuff. The instagram account alone has already soared 21 thousand followers all in just under a year. It’s truly astounding. By just reading the comments you’ll see how inspired people feel and love being educated on what’s out there in space. He’s someone to definitely keep on eye on and you won’t regret getting your daily dose of the universe from Oh Star Stuff!
What I’m Excited About: “Like many others, I am drawn to the biggest mysteries of the universe. For years, I have been captivated by the spectacular images and discoveries produced by Hubble that shifted the perspective of our place in the cosmos.
Yet we’re learning Hubble can’t see everything. As more discoveries were made, more questions arose. How did the first galaxies form? Why do many feature supermassive black holes at the center? What is dark matter? What is happening within massive dust clouds of nebulae? What exoplanets may be hospitable to life?
The key to unlocking some of these mysteries could be uncovered by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). In 2018, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer infrared telescope will be launched with an emphasis on scanning the skies in the infrared in order to see deeper into the cosmos than ever before. In fact, JWST will far surpass both of those telescopes, being able to see some of the oldest stars and galaxies. Observing in the infrared is a key technique for achieving this because it better penetrates obscuring dust and gas, allowing observations of dim, cooler objects.
JWST is expected see beyond the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field all the way to the very first galaxies forming just a few hundred million years after the big bang. It will study the formation and evolution of galaxies, stars and planetary systems.
Beyond answering the mysteries about the origin of the Universe, JWST may be able to uncover something that hits much closer to home: our search for exoplanets and more importantly those located in habitable zones like our own Earth. JWST will be able to tell us the composition of the atmospheres of exoplanets, perhaps even find the building blocks of life elsewhere in the universe.
My excitement is best summed up by Ross Andersen is his fantastic essay Golden Eye:
“The Hubble has given us nothing less than an ontological awakening, a forceful reckoning with what is. The telescope compels the mind to contemplate space and time on a scale just shy of the infinite. With luck, the James Webb will stretch it further and faster still.”
Learn more about the JWST
James Webb Space Telescope site http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/
“Golden Eye” by Ross Andersen http://lareviewofbooks.org/essay/golden-eye
“Seeing Beyond: James Webb Space Telescope” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ah6KrqABzmk
“How Can We Directly Image Exoplanets?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWZ7JhJeLRM“
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Dr. Michael De Robertis
One of the best astronomy professor not only at York University but in general. A passionate astronomer who does a very good job of explaining the very complex nature of astronomy in simpler terms while maintaining the poetry of it all. Dr. De Robertis studies Active Galactic Nuclei, how galaxies form, or galactic structure academically. He’s very humble and you may experience leaving a conversation with more wonder than you began with. Highly recommended professor if you’re thinking about taking an astronomy or physics course at York University.
What I’m Excited About: I am most excited by ESA’s Gaia satellite:http://sci.esa.int/gaia/. As the website indicates: “Gaia is an ambitious mission to chart a three-dimensional map of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, in the process revealing the composition, formation and evolution of the Galaxy. Gaia will provide unprecedented positional and radial velocity measurements with the accuracies needed to produce a stereoscopic and kinematic census of about one billion stars in our Galaxy and throughout the Local Group. This amounts to about 1 per cent of the Galactic stellar population. Gaia may not discover the secrets of the Big Bang or dark matter/dark energy, but it will tell us a great deal about our local neighbourhood about which we’ve been rather ignorant to this point. An accurate stellar census and the establishment of the first few rungs of the extragalactic distance ladder will really help astronomers make progress in understanding the entire universe.
Read Michael’s publications here
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A charismatic and awesome astronomer who also goes by the famous name called the “Noisy Astronomer.” She’s a postdoctoral researcher in astronomy at Southern Illinois University who works for the ever popular CosmosQuest. You can tell right away Nicole is in love with all things astronomy and has made it a mission to understand as much of it as she can. You may find some of her written work on such places like Discovery Space News, Skepchick, School of Doubt, and of course her personal site NoisyAstronomer.com. Definitely check this celebrity astronomer out!
What I’m Excited About: “I am so terribly torn between Dawn arriving at Ceres and New Horizons arriving at Pluto next year. Two unique dwarf planets seen for 1st time!”
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Dr. Philip Metzger
I like to think of Dr. Philip Metzger a NASA celebrity because almost anyone who loves NASA knows Dr. Metzger. He’s one of the most humble guys who is very active on social media and interacts with the community frequently. He has worked for NASA for over 20 years and is continuing to work in the Space industry. He’s received the Astronaut’s Silver Snoopy award as well as NASA’s KSC Scientist of the Year in 2011. There could be an entire blog post about Dr. Philip Metzger on how he’s been a huge influence and inspiration in the community as well as to the younger generation of future scientists. For now, I highly recommend following him on Twitter or read his blog to be exposed to some excellent space stories and information.
What I’m Excited About: “I’m most excited about the Resource Prospector Mission, which is currently being developed to rove on the Moon studying the water deposits near the poles. Lunar water can be revolutionary as a resource to help humanity extend beyond a single planet.”
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A phenomenal U.S astronaut and educator who flew on STS-119 and delivered the final solar arrays to the international space station. He’s participated in two space walks and served as an aquanaut for the NEEMO 15 mission. When Ricky isn’t in space or underwater testing out future Space Exploration Vehicle’s that might someday be used on an asteroid, he’s teaching in various schools around the world! He’s taught in places like Casablanca, Riyadh, Indonesia and many others. Arnold is active in the Twittersphere and is often seen interacting among space advocates and inspiring many with his amazing tweets. Highly recommended astronaut that deserves every bit of recognition. Make sure to follow him on Twitter.
What I’m Excited About: @NASA_Orion ‘s test flight in Dec & @NewHorizons2015 mission to Pluto….for starters!
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You may have already seen or heard Sophia through various outlets. She’s a writer for All Science All the Time, Science That, and of course the occasional guest post from time to time. Don’t be fooled by this gorgeous astronomer Sophia has been studying astrophysics at York University where she is the President of the Astronomy Club as well as a researcher where she gets to use YorkU’s famous observatory. Sophia has quite the following on Twitter where you’ll see her interact with all her fans as well as some very influential astronomers. I highly suggest following her as she posts lots of amazing pieces that are not just about space but the wonderful world of science!
What I’m Excited About: I am most excited about the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018. It will have the power to detect life on exoplanets via their atmospheres. The JWST will also be peering deep into the history of the Universe and reveal more about how it all began—the Big Bang. It will be a gigantic leap forward from the Hubble, which has already provided us with a fabulous look at our universe. I have been waiting for the JWST to be launched into space for years, and can’t wait to see what it uncovers!
Coming very soon is the arrival of New Horizons to the Plutonian system in July 2015. Yet another mission I have been awaiting for years, New Horizons will give us our first ever look at a dwarf planet and its moons. After its flyby of Pluto, New Horizons will continue on to another object in the Kuiper Belt. We will get our first up close look of objects that reside in the far outskirts of the solar system! How cool is that?!
Something further down the road that has me very excited is a manned mission to Mars. While there are complications with landing humans on Mars (including exposing them to extreme doses of UV radiation), scientists and engineers are working on finding ways to safely set the first humans ever on the red planet. These are very exciting times for the world of space exploration. We will see many frontiers being broken in our time!
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A STEM program designer and curriculum creator, who has been a shining example of what a passionate space or science advocate is all about. Her goal is making sure Space and STEM program is open to all kids, all genders, or socioeconomic levels. Sophie has been doing a lot of speaking, and it’s why she’s starting this site to help connect STEM program providers with parents and kids. She’s also attended NASA Social events and is very well connected with the community. Whenever I see a tweet from Sophie it has in some way or shape inspired me a little or get me as excited as her for space exploration or a new development. If you’re looking for a little inspiration and STEM updates in your day then be sure to follow Sohpie on Twitter!
What I’m Excited About: Most excited for 3D Printing in Zero-G because it is an application that has the ability to lead to independence as we continue to explore deep space. At ISSRDC, I heard a lot of reasons for introducing the printers. Everything from the capability to expand on existing research projects as issues or results were noticed, recreating things that were lost or broken and then of course, building components in space. All of these things are severely limited, relying on resupplying missions– imagine how much faster the ISS itself could’ve been built with printers in space.
Plastic printing will be tested first and if that works, metal is next! MISSE has tested the durability of a lot of different materials that are exposed to LEO environment, and these materials have been a great indicator as to what materials will last and what we definitely should not use.
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What can you say about Tanya that you probably don’t already know about. She blogs for the infamous Planetary Society and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Tanya, a P.H.D student at the University of Western Ontario, has been very busy contributing to science by working on such projects like NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Context Camera (CTX) and Mars Color Imager (MARCI) at Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS). Her presence in the community is widely known for being a Mars lover and provides the coolest updates and photos that’ll make you feel excited. You can find her doing public outreach through numerous channels such as Expanding Your Horizons, Girl Scouts, Norwescon, The Mars Society, and the National Space Society. If you’ve read this whole description then you probably already know following Tanya is well worth it!