NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
March 17, 2009
NASA Moon Mission Brings Divergent Passions Together
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. – Growing up in the rural Appalachian foothills of the Ohio Valley, John Marmie developed a passion for music. When he combined that passion with his enthusiasm for space exploration, he was inspired to write an original song, 'Water on the Moon.'
As the deputy project manager for the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., Marmie is helping spearhead America's return to the moon. Scheduled to launch later this year, the LCROSS mission is designed to search for water by impacting one of the moon's permanently shadowed craters. Marmie's goal is to not only help write history with LCROSS, but also to inspire others.
"I learned in my early 20s about the power of music," said Marmie. "It entertained, it opened social doors, it inspired and music allowed me to relax, escape and to dream."
Knowing a career in music might be financially unstable, Marmie wanted a career path where he could be creative and still support his passion for music. Higher education opened doors and guided his path.
Marmie set out on his journey at the University of Ohio where he earned a Bachelors degree in electrical and computer engineering and a masters in electrical engineering with a concentration in computational electromagnetics. His hard work got him noticed by NASA. Contemplating a move to the home of country music, Nashville, Tenn., Marmie’s plans changed when he received an offer to work at NASA's Ames Research Center in Northern California. A new passion was born.
"When the opportunity to work for NASA was presented, I just couldn’t turn it down," he said "To this day, I still ask myself, 'how did I end up at NASA?’ It must have been divine guidance."
Marmie began his NASA career working on the X-36 project. The project was developing a new tailless fighter aircraft design that could be considered one of the first unmanned aerial vehicle and stealth aircraft designs. After the X-36 project, Marmie strengthened his software skills with projects such as ARGUS and OPTIMA that developed instruments to sample tracer gasses in the atmosphere.
His next opportunity came with the Personal Satellite Assistant or PSA. Appearing more like a red volleyball than a robot, the PSA was intended to be a robotic astronaut assistant akin to the R2 units in Star Wars, but much smaller and less sophisticated. During this project, Marmies' project management skills became evident and his career headed into a new direction.
Marmie's biggest opportunity to date came in 2006 when NASA asked for proposals for a companion mission to NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Marmie joined his old PSA partner, Daniel Andrews and others to propose the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite. After a rigorous selection process, the mission was selected and Marmie assumed the role of deputy project manager.
During a trip to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., the idea of writing a song for LCROSS first crossed his mind after receiving inspiration from a Walt Disney quote about curiosity moving people forward. Excited, Marmie saw an opportunity to combine his two passions.
"I asked someone from NASA headquarters if a song had ever been written for a space mission," said Marmie. "The answer was I’m not sure, but if you did write one, I know someone that knows Jon Bon Jovi."
Five months later, Marmie sat down one afternoon in his small home studio and wrote 'Water on the Moon'. With the help of his friend, Jeff Petro, they produced and released the song to the project three months later.
"The response has been phenomenal from team members, friends and family," said Marmie. "It by far has already received more attention than all my other songs combined. It’s actually a refreshing change after 17 years of rejection from Nashville and L.A. publishers!" Marmie has written more than 100 songs.
Marmie said his dream is to write a song that would be professionally recorded by a well-known artist and played on the radio. It is still a dream but LCROSS may help break down those doors.
For more information about the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing satellite and to listen to 'Water on the Moon,' visit: http://www.nasa.gov/lcross
To watch a video about the LCROSS mission and John Marmie, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/multimedia/podcasting/2009/lcross_launchpad.html
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