Behind-The-Scenes at NASA Ames Research Center
This past Thursday I had the pleasure of being invited to a tweetup at NASA Ames. For the uninitiated, a tweetup is a meetup, where those interested meet and tweet. NASA has embraced social media with a force, and offers tweetups at its various locations to encourage the public to learn more about NASA initiatives.
For 100 space nerds this was a dream come true. While I've been a fan of NASA all my life, this was a unique opportunity to interact with scientists working on Kepler, SOFIA and aeronautics. Fellow tweetup participant, Chris Hammond posted this fun, fast paced video of how to day unfolded. I've also posted photos of NASA Ames on Flickr.
NASA Ames is at the heart of the Kepler mission, NASA's project devoted to finding habitable planets. As you may have read on the QUEST blog, NASA's Kepler mission discovered its first Earth-size planet in a habitable zone, a region where liquid water could exist on a planet's surface. We heard from Natalie Batalha, deputy science team lead for the NASA Kepler mission who explained the challenges facing Kepler and the huge opportunities we may reap from such a mission.
According to Ms. Batalha, the data we are recovering from Kepler will keep scientists busy for decades as they search for habitable planets. She was careful distinguish that Kepler's mission was not about finding life, but about finding planets in ecosystems not dissimilar to our own that could hold the possibility of being habitable. The search for actual life on those planets will likely be up to a future NASA team dedicated to that purpose.
If you'd like to join a future tweetup, the best place to find information is by following @NASATweetup on Twitter. The next event is scheduled for March 19th at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
If you prefer to stay closer to the Bay Area, I would highly recommend going to see Natalie Batalha speak at San Jose State University on February 16th. You can get more information on that speaking engagement here.